Thursday, 29 December 2011

My Christmas Crafting 2011

For my handmade Christmas cards this year, I bought some new material over the summer despite still having some of last years Kanban kits left (which I'd bought from QVC last summer), but I didn't think it was enough and sometimes it's nice to actually get the pens and inks out rather than just use a paperkit - having said that, amongst the new stuff I got for this years Christmas crafting I bought another kit which was the new Christmas blockbuster kit from Kanban when they moved over to Create and Craft.  I also bought: Humphreys Corner Christmas CD and Stamp collection; Me to You CD ROM which had a Christmas collection on from Docrafts (for their new Digital Designer software); Papermania Christmas collections from the Digital Designer CD; Me to You clear stamp collections (x2 different sets); a Hero Arts Christmas stamp set; My Craft Studio Papercraft Library 'Winter Whimsies'; several free gifts of stamps from craft magazines plus a Christmas paperstack from another, and of course my Funky Hand Papercraft Factory '12 Crafters Crafting' collection (I believe there is a 50% discount sale on at the moment).

In my stash, I already had fair collection of Christmas digi stamps from various resources - both freebies and purchases; I have my gorgeous Anna Griffin Christmas stamps which have some great vintage images amongst them; The original Forever Friends CD which has a massive resource of Christmas images for that much needed dose of cute (essential); a large resource of Funky Hand Christmas papers, as well as freebies collected over time and other digi collections bought in the past from Pink Petticoat. 

Despite having all that resourse, and when I finally got round to it following numerous speights of bedrest, my chosen medium for my Christmas cards, was Funky Hand's '12 Crafters Crafting'.

I'd spent some time getting stuff ready to make my Christmas cards by pre-making the embellishments bit by bit using the MCS die cut Christmas embellishments kit which included the Christmas roses, poinsettias, mistletoe and holly and individual ivy leaves.  I also printed out a lot of the pre-coloured digi images from the 12 crafters crafting CD and printed some papers out too.  However, following my bedrest I seemed to have the crafting version of writers block...aaaarrrrgggh!  I thought I'd better have a look round blogland for some inspiration then I remembered that my crafting friend Ruth (Tip Top Toppers Things)  actually ran a challenge blog for Christmas cards called  'Crimbo Crackers'.  I noticed that the challange at that time was a sketch... I made a card to fit the sketch but didn't end up putting the card into  the actual challenge because I literally felt like I didn't have the time to write the blog post and link it up, but was thankful that I'd looked to see the challenge in the first place as it was something I felt was doable enough to ease me into the Christmas craft frenzy I was about to commence; it certainly gave me the kick start I needed... here is that card: 

Made following a sketch from Crimbo Crackers.

Anyway, because I liked the look of this, I did a great deal of my cards on a variation of this.  These ready coloured images from the 12 Crafters Crafting CD were great and a godsend.  I did go around the image with a grey Promarker to make it pop from the page, then I added some glitter to the rim of the hat and the pom pom on the end.  I really liked the look of this card - some of my crafting friends might recognise that their card would look something like this card.

On the 12 Crafters Crafting CD there are 12 collections of 20 papers - each collection being a different set of colours.  There is one collection called "all I want...".  When I first saw this collection, it was my least favourite - but do you know what?  In the end it was the collection that I used the most of and just simply fell in love with it.  The collection is based on red, black, white and two tones of grey.  Also fantastic for the male cards - although it looked great with a robin on the front... Here is another card actually made using this collection:

picture taken before snowflake embellishment and glitter added

Because I started my Christmas crafting so late, I knew that I had to work hard to make the deadline of getting all my cards in the post in order to get them delivered in time for Christmas.  While I'd finished the majority of the cards, I still needed to write in them - and some of my greetings ran into the realms of small letters (not like me eh?).  Because of this, I ended up missing the post for the last day for gauranteed Christmas delivery.  I soldiered through and got them in the post the very next day, sending each and every one by first class.  Some of them slipped into the large letter catagory so in all, my small pile totalled over £17.50.  Some where regular shop-bought cards for non-crafting friends, but for my crafting friends, each and everyone of them were freshly handmade.

With the relief of getting those in the post, I could now concentrate on friends and family close to home - and not all of them got a handmade card...  Of course, in the middle of it all I had another printer nightmare where the blue ink just packed up on me - even though it was coming out of the ink wells and into the CISS pipes, it just wasn't coming through the print heads.  Depsite my best efforts to carry out numerous nozzle cleaning it wasn't happening, so I had to swap the printhead for the coloured inks.  Eventually, it all came good (thank goodness) as getting a replacement in time for Christmas was highly unlikely.  Not long after that - I ran out of black ink.  I couldn't believe it.  I'd gone below the minimum line so it stopped coming through.  Thankfully my sister came to the rescue and lent me a new bottle she hadn't used.  I'll just replace it after the holidays when everyone is back to normal and open for business again... I think I should buy a bottle of each of the colours while I'm at it.  They have lasted me a year so I can't complain - and when you see the volume of printing I do, I think I've done really well.  It should cost me less than £25 to buy 4 bottles of ink which should last me another year - not bad eh?

I will show you some more of my cards over the next few posts, but first of all, I'm going to check out to see whether I can enter any of them into any Christmas challenges.  If I post them before I check, I won't be able to enter them because no back links are allowed usually.

Do you work to the wire or do you like to get things done as early as possible.  In my former life as a Governance Officer where one of my jobs was to co-ordinate everything to do with the company's board meetings, learning to prioritise was key to my role, so with so much stuff on usually, we were all working to the wire - and there was no bigger flaunter of the report submission deadlines as the Chief Executive!  She'd be putting in and changing reports minutes before the meeting - and if it went pear-shaped - she blamed me!!!!

Hey ho.  Card making is supposed to be for fun so while we all have deadlines for challenges,  the post, someone's birthday etc. - I'm pretty sure that no one ever died from a late hand made card!

Sending crafty hugs

Paula x x x

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Being a Bad Blogger!

This is a very wordy post with few pictures, so if you don't want to read on, I'd click off right now.  I tried to find some good clip art, but couldn't find quite the right depiction of the message i'm trying to get across.  Anyway, if that doesn't bother you (that there are a lot of words without pictures), you are more than welcome to read on.......

Quite often, I will think about writing a blog post on a subject then by the time I've actually remembered I was going to do it - the moment has gone.  I also feel like I need a reason or a card to blog - not sure if that bothered me when I first started blogging as I was uber-excited about talking which brought many new followers.

When I started to write this post, it was way before Christmas - in fact it was at the end of November, and for a few days prior, I'd been on a bit of bedrest - exhaustion had been and still is a bit of a problem - and the most frustrating part is, I've not exactly done anything that might tire me out - apart from sleeping lol.. well that's what it feels like.  You know, if I'd run a marathon or taken the dogs for a nice long walk (I wish), I wouldn't mind it so much, but when it's just a regular part of your everyday - then it can be frustrating.  Also - I could understand it if I just sat there for hours on end doing absolutely nothing, being all moronic, but that's not the case either - I try and do as much as my body will physically let me before the pains start.  

If I gave you a couple of examples, it might set the scene a little better. At the beginning of November I went to the NEC Hobbycrafts show with my husband and sister (another post started and not finished).  We spent a good few hours there (as you do) walking round.  We went for lunch out in the main concourse to Wetherspoons, and the sit down was heavenly.  I found that I could barely get up let alone walk when I got back up.  By the time we had finished near to the end, I could barely put one foot in front of the other.  I was dragging my right leg almost because when in a lot of stress or pain, I get a real bad pain in my right groin/top of my leg in the inner joint.  As happens often, I find myself having to literally lift my leg into the car to get in.  Thankfully I had taken my walking stick with me and used it from the offset.  By the time we were making our way back to the car - I could have done with a walking frame.  My lower back had also gone - something that can happen by just standing still for a short length of time - or even if I have to bend.  Bending over the bath to bathe the dog is leaves me with excruciating pains across my lower back (straight across the back of my pelvis (or so it feels) and then I have to walk around the house with my stick (sorry, I digress)...  

Anyway, after dragging myself back to the car - which was parked in the blue badge area (and not nearly near enough to the event), I knew it had been the right decision not to have driven myself there - even though I had to put up with my OH rolling his eyes when random people told him he looked fed up (which he could have tried to hide), I knew I couldn't have done it without him.  My sister took her trolley on wheels for all our goodies - which was also another plus because I couldn't have carried a thing.  Anyway, once we were on the road home, I think about 10 minutes into the journey, I fell to sleep and slept almost all the way home.  I was then 'out of it' and in my bed asleep for the following 5 days.  That was one example - and while it sounds extreme, it is a very typical scenario for me - although walking around something like the NEC is definately not a regular occurance and one I know that, unfortunately, I won't be able to repeat until everything is under control.

Another example is when i've been out to lunch with a friend - It's taken so much out of me that I've ended up dropping to sleep when I return which might also affect the next day too. 

The feeling of 'exhaustion' can even be present when I've just woken up - which might be early - in that I really didn't get a decent sleep so I get up anyway or it might be late, in which case my OH might leave me there to sleep - after all, he figures that my body needs it if I'm still sleeping.  Either way, I feel like I could go straight back and sleep right through to the next day and find myself dropping off all the time.  One of the worse things I can do is read - 2 lines and I'm gone... my OH says if he didn't know better, he'd say I had sleep apnea because he can be talking to me one minute and the next, I'll have dropped of.  And no, he's not really that boring, it's just that he's the one that's there when it happens.

I appreciate that the amount of medication I am currently taking, along with the pain patches, may have a big part to play in all this, but I am informed that the Fibromyalgia itself has a very big part too and is often associated with other chronic fatigue syndromes or disorders.  In the New Year I will be starting on a programme through the hospitals Health Psychology department which is called 'building blocks' (I think) - the programme is supposed to help me come to terms and help me to manage my 'long term chronic health condition'... It's run by other sufferers who have been on the programme too, so I'm looking forward to that because I want to learn about 'pacing' myself so that it's not all or nothing each day.  With the pains and exhaustion, I calculate to have only one to two good days per month - maybe three.  There is always something that sets it off, or its just there when I get up (if I get up).  

So, what do I do when I'm on bed rest (and not asleep)?  Well, the laptop of course is almost a constant companion and I have a plethora of magazines by my side.  I read for a bit, fall to sleep, wake up, have a look round the net, have a look on Facebook - see what is happening in the world of craft looking at all those pages that I 'Like'!  Follow a couple of links and end up in a maze of blogs and websites I didn't know existed as a regular card maker.  I SKYPE my sister a lot while she shows me what she's been up to on her Craft Artist and Silhouette Cameo, then drop to sleep again.

This pattern repeats itself - often.

At the moment, as well as getting re-acquainted with blogger dashboard and google reader (both of which I am still pants at keeping up with - bad blogger (me that is, not!  No. I've been trying to catch up with everyone but I don't seem to make it very far from the top!  Google reader recons I've got 1000+ posts to read.... I don't think so.  I apologise to all those mutual followers that will be reading this - all I can say is that I will try harder at reading stuff from hereon in.

Also, added to that - at this precise moment in time (at the time of typing that is) - I have 277 emails to sift through... That's one of the reasons I'm pretty slow at getting back to my lovely crafting friends who often send me lovely emails.  Thing is, I like to sift through the rubbish first (you know, the stuff I thought I'd quite like to read so subscribed to the newsletter - times by too many)!!!  Once I feel that I have nothing to distract me, I can sit and reply to said emails - and if you know me by now - they never stop at a couple of paragraphs!!! (another NY resolution perhaps?)!!!

On that note, I've deleted everything hereafter that I'd written so that I can make further and hopefully shorter posts.  No point in telling all my news in one go, then not blogging for a while and then doing a massive one again!  That seems to be the cycle I'm in, so we're on to perhaps NY resolution number 2 then????!!!

Before I 'sign-off' this post, I've decided it's time I had a little candy give away - afterall, it will be 2 years since the PaperPlayground was 'born'.  On 4th January to be precise... 4 days before my tumour was discovered and I shared the rest with blogworld!  Anyhow, i'm not at all sure what it will be yet but I know that I want to do it because it's important to me to give something back.  I am so grateful for every single one of my followers but not sure who actually reads my posts out of them all - so it would be great if you are reading this and just say 'hi' so I know you're still around.  I'll be back with another post later and more  news of my bloggaversary giveaway in due course...

Crafty hugs to all.

Paula x x x


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