Scrap happens

My study doesn't really know what't hit it recently. There's been a flurry of scrap activity the likes of which hasn't been seen in many months. Pages are being completed, memories are being safely documented for future generations and supplies are actually being used (leaving unacceptable gaps which must surely be filled with more pretty stuff soon!)Alas, I can't quite get my scanner to connect to the laptop to share what I've made, but I did photograph one little number from today which I completed as part of a challenge on the Basic Grey blog a few days ago. It would be rude not to take part in a challenge that might lead to winning some supplies, would it not?! The challenge was to use just Basic Grey solid papers, and being a big fan of all things BG I thought I'd give it a go.The idea for the page came from the growing number of photos I seem to be taking of my cup of tea alongside whatever I'm reading at the time. There is clearly a theme developing here - one I think should be continued and championed at every occasion. And so was born my 'cup of me time'.I'm pretty pleased with how this turned out, especially my fancy dancy tag I invented all by my lonesome, and those pretty butterflies! And scooting around a few scrapbook blogs has really inspired me this past week - I have ideas brewing left, right and centre. Maybe I'll share a bit more of my creating over the next few days. So what's inspiring you right now? Do share - it'd be rude not to!!

making stuff = happy me :)

I am such a procrastinator. I'm sure that statement instantly has my mother on the floor laughing as I admit out loud what I've been told pretty regularly since I was a child! And the most frustrating part of it is that I know I procrastinate, but I persist with whatever mundane or fruitless activity I'm engaged in (most likely browsing online or watching tv) instead of making myself get up and go and do whatever it is that I should be doing. Or in most cases, really want to be doing but lack the motivation to just get started.But yesterday, spurred on by a delivery of new scrap loveliness, I decided enough was enough and cleared some space on the work desk in my study and got down to some serious creating. It seems like an absolute age since I've shared any layouts on the blog. I have been creating a couple a month, mostly as commissions for the Scrapbook Magazine, but I have to wait until they are published before I can put them online. Yesterday, though, I created purely for me and the sheer enjoyment I get out of cutting paper up and sticking it on a sheet of card with photographs was immense! And I made two, yes, two layouts! Let me talk you through them.I love this picture of Patrick, taken last year during mini rugby. I love that he's playing with his bite guard which is pretty much how he spends most of the time on the pitch! I love how happy he looks and the way the sun makes his hair look all surfy and fabulous. The layout itself I'm not sure about! A tad busier than I like things, but I'm trying to break out of safe mode and do things I wouldn't normally do so I'm going to run with it. Things I do love about it are.....super cute button and stars on the photo, and ......little strips of journalling that I made more effort with than I usually would, adding a bit of ink around the edges to make it stand out.After I did that layout I did something else I never do (I know, shocking!) and scrapped 2 inanimate objects! Obviously it needs to be a pretty special object to have a layout created, but I think you'll agree these are worthy subjects.Now this layout I completely love! It's everything I love on one piece of cardstock! Pictures of pretty things made by apple, a lovely rub on, some buttons, a few strips of paper and a bit of stitching.... {sigh}....! You want to see some of that loveliness close up? Oh, ok then!It never ceases to amaze me once I get going just how good creating something from nothing makes me feel. I'd have to confess to having dragged the sewing machine out for a couple of (very small) projects lately as well. And in doing so I have laid my borrowed pair of knitting needles to rest and accepted that I'm a sewer, not a knitter. There's just something I love about the feel of fabric in a pile all ready and waiting to be made into something useful or pretty. And it's so much faster which means the gratification comes that much quicker! And there are so many amazing fabric shops on Etsy it would be rude not to buy some, right?So I plan on making and creating a whole lot more this Easter holiday. And I'm going to drag the kids down with me! I have all sorts of plans going on in my head - if any of them come to fruition I'll be sure to share them with you here! On the subject of creating, if you're in the slightest bit creative and fancy getting stuck into some new and inspiring ideas, you absolutely have to check out Maegan's Creativity Bootcamp: Spring Training. Check out the website for details and I'll keep you updated here as well. Registration opens this Monday along with some further details of the course - I'm definitely up for it and it would be great if some of you joined me for the ride! Until then I'm going to leave you with a couple of layouts that I did for the magazine this month based on the ideas of the great escape and favourite places. No big surprises with what I chose to scrap!Don't forget to check out Bootcamp, since I've left you all these lovely links to it! Have a great weekend x

a bit of tradition

One of my favourite things about Christmas is the sense of tradition that goes with it. There are books and music that only come out at this time of year. There is the choosing of the tree and the dressing of it - lights first, then beads and finally the decorations. There is the word 'decanations' that we have embraced since Patrick first uttered it about 5 years ago and the giggles we all share every time someone says it. My childhood Christmases are bound in lots of little traditions that my parents built up for us, and we're gradually creating our own little traditions with the boys as they get older.

This was the third year we visited Santa at Mountstewart and every year it is utterly magical. I'll admit there was nothing magical or festive about our allocated time slot of 9.15 on a Sunday morning, but this particular Sunday morning was a perfect frosty, sunny morning. So everyone was happy. The boys didn't know that we were going to see Santa, so once they found out the magic really kicked in.

The experience starts with some craft - this year a homemade calendar with instructions from some kindly elves, followed by some very neat colouring in.



(I love how intent they are on their colouring and drawing - it makes me very happy that they got the creative gene from me if nothing else!)

Craft is followed by a short journey (literally a circle around the entrance to the house, but no one even slightly cares!) in a fabulous horse drawn carriage and then another very short journey on foot to the winter wonderland that is Santa's home. Silly photos at this point are entirely optional!


Next, Mrs Claus greets us and leads us through to where the jolly old man is waiting for us. Usually at this point Conor hides behind a parental leg and refuses to speak to Santa, but at almost 5 years old it turns out he is ready for a chat with him. It was completely magical watching him look with total wonder at this man with the beard and furry red hat. I could almost hear the little cogs in his mind working overtime trying to take it all in.


I love that Patrick is still in awe of Santa - he was so polite when he was talking to him about what was on his list!


By the end of our visit both the boys were on cloud 9, especially after they opened their presents! We finished with a wintery quiz trail around the lake which was frozen solid, but I will share the frosty pictures in another post. A cup of tea and treat rounded off our perfect morning. And it really was just that. Perfect. I am going to make a note to self on my new calendar to book earlier for next year so that we can swap the trauma of the early start for a more festive late afternoon time! And I will look forward to it eagerly. I am only too aware that there are a limited number of times we can enjoy this experience and I want to savour them while I can.

In other news, my creative mojo has momentarily come out of hibernation and I have created my first completely digital layout! I know, it was as much of a shock to me as I imagine it is to you. But I very much enjoyed it and may even do it again! So I wll leave you with my creation and await your thoughts on this humble offering!

Letters to Santa 

working on it


I have a lot going on in my head most of the time. To the people who live with me and who know me best this will come as no great shock - I constantly have a mental list of things to do, things I want to do, blogs to check out, gifts to buy, layouts I want to create, photos I want to take. You get the idea. The noise inside my head is often so loud it honestly surprises me that no one else can hear it. It comes in cycles, this busyness, and at this time of year it seems to step up a gear. Currently in my mind I am..

:: trying to remember all the other things I mean to do while I'm online;

:: planning some big changes to my photography website and business plan;

:: making a list of the little things the boys might want to ask Santa for (the phone Patrick mentioned is not on that list!)

:: resisting the urge to go and get the half bar of Dairy Milk from the fridge;

:: squashing down the list of things I have to do in school this week;

:: wondering where on earth I'm going to get a gum shield for Patrick before tomorrow's mini rugby game;

:: planning tomorrow's dinner;

:: thinking about all the layouts I'd love to be creating but just never get around to.

I know I'm no different from most of my friends and that we're all juggling a multitude of seemingly (and actually) vital balls at one time, but I can't help but feel that somehow all this mental busyness is holding me back from just being present in, and enjoying life as it happens. I want to slow things down and focus on the good stuff while still making headway on all the stuff that I really want to get cracking on.


So I'm working on it. A little bit at a time. Trying to take at least one picture a day because I want to work on being a better photographer. Setting a doable list of jobs to move the business forward a bit more. Trying to take a deep breath and not panic because Christmas is a whole quarter of a year away. Accepting that the fight against the chocolate in the fridge was lost before it began! And knowing that if even some of those layouts make it to reality then a little bit more of who we are and what we did will be preserved just a little bit longer.

So happy to have you


I'll be surprised if the amount of stuff going on in my head suddenly diminishes anytime soon, and with the wedding coming up in just 4 weeks I can only imagine there'll be more going on in there than ever! But I shall keep working on it. And of course, do my best to turn my mental blogging into actual posts which will hopefully let you see just how well I'm doing with that list up there. (The chocolate is no longer in the fridge, but at least that's one thing ticked off!)

Making me happy

In this summer of damp days and hyperactive children it isn't really taking much to make me happy! Just thought I'd share a couple of things that have put a smile on my face the past few days.


:: Mmmm, lovely newness from Basic Grey! What's not to love, I ask you?

:: My friend Janet's fabulous sciorta - you must check this out and read the blog!

:: A night of giggles, chocolate, pretty paper goods and my friend Sheila which resulted in this (and another that I'm too lazy to photograph - 12x12 layouts are such hard work!!)

Professor Goggles

:: A bit of romance - albeit not mine, but you have to love a wedding!



(There will be more of these in a week or so if you fancy coming back for a peek.)

:: Vicarious summer living through the ever lovely SouleMama's blog.

:: A weekend up north with my fabulous boys. Lots of tacky seaside activities like WaterWorld (where I believe the rest of my tan now resides!) and Barry's amusements where parents pretty much haemorrhage money as they go!

:: Some new programs for my super slow computer to ease my processing pain, and a few new tricks to go along with them! 




All those pretty coastal flowers were making me happy as we waited for ages to go across Carrick-a-rede rope bridge last week!

:: My happiness will be complete in mere moments when I indulge in a living room with only me in it and Countryfile on Sky+. Like I said, it doesn't take much these days! Do share what's making you happy :)


I've been procrastinating a lot lately. About absolutely everything. Let me give you an idea of just how much procrastination has been going on in my life of late. I have been putting off...

:: school work - like finishing schemes of work, completing reports, sorting out piles of paper etc...

:: ordering a bikini or swimsuit for our holiday. Somehow purchasing something that is going to expose my least favourite body parts to the world at large just doesn't sound like a fun activity!

:: scrapbooking. Which is shocking as it's one of my most favourite things to do in the entire world.

:: taking pictures, which again is rather alarming to a photo junkie like myself.

:: making phonecalls - there are so many friends and family I haven't actually spoken to in person and who I miss dreadfully and would love to chat to, but here it is on the list.

:: housework. Not that this is in any way a new item here on the list of procrastination. I am a firm believer that housework is why procrastination was originally developed and it is where it firmly belongs!

:: dealing with piles of paper all over the house.

And so, you may ask, what have I been doing with my time instead of doing all the things I need to do or even just want to do more than I have been?  Well, that in itself is a bit of a mystery. I'm not really sure at all. I confess we have been watching series 7 of '24' on dvd which can become a bit addictive, but so far we haven't gone over the 2 episodes a night rule. So it can't just be that. My absence here and on other blogs I love to follow has been noticeable so it can't be that either. Which leads me to the rather disappointing conclusion that I've spent an enormous amount of time doing absolutely nothing constructive with my time at all. I must hang my head in shame and do something about this immediately before I allow guilt to take over and make me feel so bad about all this procrastinating that I wallow in it and end up doing nothing at all. Again!

I don't know about you but I find this such a difficult cycle to break out of. There is so much that I want to do and that needs to be done but I don't know where to start. And as my mother will no doubt proclaim in the comments later, I've never been one for using time wisely and having things done on time! No, I'm more of a last minute girl, a trait I believe I inherited from her mother and my aunt and so is not entirely my fault either and yet a trait that goes entirely against my inner control freak and her need to be organised. So you can see the dilemma I'm in! It's such a to-do.

I even spent a bit of time earlier looking up sayings and quotes about procrastination which you might find amusing or even, dare I say it, wise and challenging!

"Procrastination is the thief of time - Edward Young" - I knew that one and it amazingly sums up how I feel at the minute, like time is running away from me.

"Procrastination is opportunity's assasin - Victor Kiam" - see, now I feel like I may have missed out on an opportunity somewhere along the line because I couldn't be bothered doing something at the time. This one isn't helping my feelings of guilt!

"To think too long about doing a thing often becomes its undoing - Eva Young" - now this is the one I think most applies to me. Too much thinking and not enough doing.

I am hopeful that I may be on my way out of this cycle of not doing rather than doing, and so I'm going to just post a few layouts I did last week and then I'm going to go online and order me some swimwear quick

Life is good
I completely adore this photo I took of the boys for the A Moment in Time event in May. If you haven't been to the website to see what was going on around the world at one particular moment you should go visit soon. It's so amazing to see how different people's lives are and what a vast place we live in. I'm also completely in love with the latest ranges from My Mind's Eye!

Patrick was reading me "Greyfriar's Bobby" for his homework a few weeks ago and the light bouncing up onto his face from the book was incredible. Plus the camera was a good foil in this case since it's such a sad story and it has always made me cry (I know some of you will find this incredibly hard to believe hehe!) And I've been wanting to document just how much he enjoys learing. It all came together beautifully, don't you think?

Finally, a quick show of a few photos I took of Michael's cousin's daughter a few weeks ago. We had been waiting for months to meet her and she was just the cutest wee thing.

18 bw



Like I said, just too cute! And now, finally finally, another in my series of funny pictures for a reason I'm not sharing. This one has been posted before but it definitely merits another moment of blog glory!


* If you build it, they will come *


2557 days

That's how many days it's been since Patrick was born (well 2558 if we're being picky since his birthday was yesterday). When I look at the number like that it seems impossible that that's the number of days I've been a mum. You'd think with that amount of time I'd feel a bit more of a pro at it than I do, but that's not really where this post is heading so let's move on! What it really amounts to is 7 years. 7 years during which he has grown from a tiny baby into an amazing boy who lives his life to the full and makes us so proud in so many different ways. I could easily ramble on for pages about his humour, his ability to make any type of clothing look cool, his love of music, his absolute belief that God is in charge, his clever little mind, his cheeky smile and contagious laugh, his squeezy hugs, his sensitivity and so on but you've probably got the picture by now.

He was ecstatic that this year his birthday fell on a Saturday so he was able to have his party on his actual birthday. He's all about football at the minute so a football party it was. 16 small boys on an indoor 5-a-side pitch followed by hotdogs and cake at home. Lots of noise, a bit of squabbling (hand ball was a bit of an issue!) a lot of rubbishy food and presents galore. Our boy was in birthday heaven! Please note in the collage below the birthday cake which I baked and decorated with my own 2 hands in a very Jane Asher fashion. So much effort for something which was literally decimated in a matter of minutes!


I don't think I need to add anything to the pictures except to add - for the purpose of any international readers - that he's sporting the new Liverpool kit with the name of his favourite player, Torres, on the back. We are now hoping and praying that Liverpool don't sell him over the summer or we're scuppered!

As I was planning the party I started thinking about all the fads and crazes that Patrick has gone through over the past few years. He's always really into something and it's pretty obvious to those of us who live with him or spend any amount of time with him. It prompted a layout featuring some of his most obsessive crazes.

The latest craze

I'm so pleased with how this turned out, and with my cunning use of the new Star Wars paper I recently added to my stash. It's funny looking back at how the things lying around the house have changed over the years.

So after all the party preparation and the birthday celebrations yesterday I am well and truly exhausted and I can't believe it's Monday again tomorrow! I am planning a whole lot of nothing this week, apart from maybe some blog hopping and magazine browsing. What will you be up to?

A busy head

I suffer terribly from this, just ask my husband. Symptoms generally include having too many thoughts for the relatively small space that is my mind, flitting from one thing to the next and having a semi-permanent frown between my eyebrows. I'm fairly certain it's hereditary and that it's my mum's fault for passing on that gene! Things which are fighting for space in my head right now include:

:: coursework folders - although today was the deadline for those so that should free up a good 10% of brain space I should think!

:: ways to lose a smidgen of weight before our summer holiday and my sister's wedding. I'm trying to work out a way to do it without giving up chocolate which makes the task all the more difficult!

:: a ton of layout ideas which I just can't seem to get around to doing.

:: decorating ideas for the playroom which we just painted last week - how does one make a 6'x4' train set smaller?

:: Patrick's birthday - present ideas, party ideas, cake ideas......  Although I have created some fab invitations for him to give out. I'll share them later as I don't want to give the game away just yet :)

:: building myself up for buying new jeans. I used to be able to lift my size in Fat Face and just know they would fit, but they recently changed all their sizing without consulting me and it's causing a jean disaster. I know you know the feeling!

:: wanting to sew something but not really knowing what. I'd love a summer skirt and I also love this pattern at Sew Liberated.

When my head gets busy like this I tend to procrastinate, which makes the problem even worse. But this weekend I managed, with the help of a friend, to complete at least one layout. We challenged ourselves to use some products we got in our recent order and this is what I came up with. I've fallen into my old grid habit, but it works and I love seeing 8 photos of our holiday last summer on one page.

The good life

I'm hoping that the busyness in my head will ease soon and that I can motivate myself to do more creating and less thinking! What's going on in your head? 

Simple pleasures

When the sun shines in these parts you have to make the most of it before it disappears again. So that's exactly what we've been doing this past week or so. It's been so lovely waking up to a bright room and having that feeling of hope that maybe, just maybe the boys might get outside to play and you might get to sit on the garden bench with a cup of tea and a magazine. After weeks of constant rain there is something so refreshing about being outside. The extra space to run around, the freedom to shout at the top of your lungs (the boys, not me!), the fun of the cute little kitten who thinks she lives here and the smell of the sea when the wind blows our way. Outside rocks! I've even cracked the camera out just for fun - it hardly knows what to make of being out of its bag so much.

:: cherry blossom at the bottom of our road. So pretty.


:: amazing sunset, made all the redder by the volcanic ash, so I'm led to believe!


:: cutest 4 year old on the planet who is in his glory squirting his hose :)


:: lots and LOTS of football, thanks to a new net. Cricket has been temporarily blown out!


:: last few weeks of mini rugby - they've been learning to tackle! It's the cutest thing (I know, rugby isn't cute, but he is!)



I've also been thinking a lot about how the boys are changing at the minute, especially as Patrick will be 7 in a couple of weeks. In my head he's still my little boy, but in reality he's not! All this football and collecting football cards, fixing his school tie so it looks just how he wants it to look, choosing green Converse as his summer shoes. He's his own man, no doubts about it! So I decided to do a layout about what I love most about each of them right now - time really is so fleeting and I don't want to forget this bit. I really love how they both turned out.

Top 10 Patrick

Top 10

Check me and my not white cardstock! Next thing you know I'll be posting 2 page spreads! Ok, probably not, but given the lovely box of goodies that arrived just a few days ago, I'm pretty sure I'll be making a few more layouts very soon. 

So tell me, how have you been spending the lovely sunshiney days?

Scrap happy

So this is what happens to me when I'm off school and have a bit of time for some blog hopping:

1. Find a blog I'm relatively new to and read backwards through some of the posts. Generally be amazed at the creativity and stunning photography.

2. Follow that blog's links to other blogs and repeat step 1 several times over, jealousy at new and fun photo processing techniques building all the time.

3. Progress from the blogs to the flickr photostreams of bloggers I am now practically stalking.

4. Lose countless hours of my life looking through photos, joining flickr groups, checking out new techniques.

5. Begin to feel like my own photography is rubbish in comparison. Who wants a timeless photo of a newborn with his smitten parents when you can have a lovely polaroid of cupcakes or a still life of vintage notions?

6. Spend more hours on Photoshop trying out techniques to make my photos look like the ones I've seen online, wondering constantly why photos of lego and grubby boys don't have the same vintage vibe.

7. Wander away from the computer for a few days, enjoying the days with my boys and feeling no pressure to blog or take pictures for anyone but me.

8. Potter around my study during which time I am alerted to bits and pieces of scrap stash I had forgotten about (don't tell Michael or he might hijack the parcel of goodies I ordered earlier hehe!) Enjoy the newly organised space and newly discovered stash and make some layouts.

9. Run around texting photos of said layouts to my scrap chums and finally remember why I started my blog in the first place - to share silly stories from our lives and the layouts I made to document them.

10. Promise myself not to be so silly next time we're on school holiday, all the while realising that it will happen all over again in approximately 12 weeks!

It's always a bit of a surprise to me just how happy a couple of photographs, some patterned paper and pretty bits and pieces can make me. I must write it down on a sticky note somewhere I can see it and then do it more often.

Spring 09

Just beachy

Game boy 
So I am entering my weekend feeling scrap happy and, with any luck, I might just make a few more of these. What about you?