Saturday, 31 October 2009


Monday, 26 October 2009

Bits and bobs (and a sad farewell)

It has been such a busy few days, with Jamie's brother staying over the weekend for the NFL game at Wembley between the New England Patriots and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday (which was incredible!). In the meantime, I have been tracking down books and doing LOTS of preparation for my lectures/seminars this week. So, not much time for scrapbooking or finishing my neglected Halloween projects...Just hoping that I get them finished by Saturday!

Anyway, I thought I would share with you some pictures from the football game on Sunday. I can pretty much say with conviction that I won't have a career in sports phototgraphy, but I can't help but love the colours and the drama of American football! I do not partake in sports (which is a good thing) and I generally do not watch sports (I tend to irritate my boyfriend) but I make an exception for football and baseball. I love the atmosphere and the 'performance,' and, most importantly of all, the food. Funnel cake is quite possibly the yummiest thing in the world!

I heard that about 80,000 people watched the game at Wembley, and there were people everywhere! They even had policemen doing crowd management at the tube station (which in hindsight was a good idea). Also, the weather was beautiful - such a contrast to the year before.

This was the only good photo of Wembley Stadium that I managed to take - a combination of the crowd and the position of the sun made it very difficult to photograph!

These floating helmets were amazing! Before the game started they were just suspended in mid-air, floating around the stadium....such an awesome idea!

During the 'Star-Spangled Banner' (sung by Toni Braxton), one section of the stadium held up the colours of the Stars and Stripes....

And, during 'God Save the Queen' (sung by Katherine Jenkins) another section of the stadium held up the colours of the Union Jack, which were both such impressive sights!

The Buccaneers were the home team, and we were sitting right behind them! Sadly they lost (7-35), which means that they have lost every game so far this season (!). I was really hoping to get a picture of Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady, but my zoom just wasn't co-operating.

On a crafty note, I thought I would include a photo of my 'procrastination project' from last week. I was setting up our Halloween display and thought that the photo collage from a couple of posts ago would add a festive touch to the whole thing. I also had a spare frame, so I printed off the collage in A4 and slipped it inside. It looked horrible! The frame wasn't especially nice and the photo paper that I have been using has an odd sheen which made it look 100% tacky. So, to further postpone my reading, I searched on Google for some autumnal digital elements. The maple leaf (or at least I think it's a maple leaf) was free from an article on and you can find it here. The other elements are all from Shimelle's lovely 'Autumn Apples Embellishments' DigiKit over at Two Peas, which you can download for a very reasonable $4! The whole thing isn't very sophisticated - I just printed off the elements onto white cardstock and cut them out whilst watching Running in Heels re-runs. I attached them using a glue gun, and then used some co-ordinating buttons from my stash to fill in the gaps! This was actually my first foray into the world of digital scrapbooking and I was so excited by how easy it was. I don't have PhotoShop Elements or a similar program ordinarily used by digital/hybrid scrapbookers and I was a little nervous that I wouldn't be able to use the elements on my laptop. As it happens, I downloaded them, opened them up in Windows Explorer and then pasted them into Word! So easy.

* I should also apologise for the poor quality of these photos - there is either too much or too little light in this flat and it is impossible to take good photos. A definite problem!

And finally, I just wanted to say how completely gutted I was to find out that Scrapbook Inspirations magazine will cease publication after the December issue. I only discovered Scrapbook Inspirations earlier this year, and it is largely due to this magazine that I returned to scrapbooking over the summer. I was so thrilled to find something on our shores which in many ways 'legitimised' scrapbooking in the UK - by featuring new products and techniques, by advertising retailers and by showcasing readers' submissions in a very unpretentious way. It is a misunderstood hobby in Britain, where I have found that people are generally apathetic - even derisive - about the idea of celebrating and preserving memories. Sadly scrapbooking is either a 'waste of time', a 'waste of money', or people just think that you're completely insane. I am so sad for the staff and the wonderful design team, which had recently expanded to include some hugely talented people - I can only imagine their disappointment. I am so going to miss the thrill of excitement each month when the latest issue falls through the letter box. You can read about the news here, here and here. So sad to hear that “Scrapbook Inspirations catered to a very specialist market which has unfortunately declined significantly during the last year." Scrapbooking in the UK is already such a nascent hobby - I truly hope that this is just a minor setback.

Friday, 23 October 2009

To imitate or innovate?

I have to admit that most of the time I imitate rather than innovate when it comes to craft projects. I think that in part this stems from a little bit of performance anxiety combined with 'project envy' and a more general lack of inspiration from within. Sometimes I have days when I am well and truly inspired, but I spend many others sifting through back issues of Scrapbook Inspirations and Creating Keepsakes looking for layout ideas and sketches. More often than not I try to adapt ideas that I particularly like so that the end result bears my own little stamp of creativity, but I would love to channel my inner creative flair so that I can create some of the innovative and amazingly original ideas that appear every month in these magazines (and others). I say this because for Halloween this year I have decided to make my own decorations, and after browsing the internet for a good many hours I have found four projects which I really want to recreate. So, although I did the cutting and the sticking, the credit for these projects definitely lies elsewhere!

This Halloween frame was inspired by Carole Janson over at the Bo Bunny Blog. Ironically I can't find the original post, but you can view Carole's own Halloween frame here. It is made almost entirely out of the super cute Bo Bunny Boo Crew collection (Stripe, Here's Looking at U, Ghoul Friends, Dot and Boo Crew) which I bought online from Crafts U Love. The fence, cat, bats, 'Booooo' writing and spiders/spider's web stickers are by Stampendous, which I bought locally along with the googly eyes. I used some 3D foam pads to give the montage along the bottom of the frame a little bit of dimension, and I distressed some of the grass with a black ink pad to make it pop.

I was also so excited to receive a great big pizza box of new stash from the Craft Emporium and an EK Success punch from Art Cards which I have been coveting for the last few months. I have banned myself from buying patterned paper for the foreseeable future, but I did get the Pink Paislee Twilight collection and the Spooky Town collection by Imaginisce for my next three Halloween projects. The Prima flowers and clear stamps in the bottom left hand corner are also for a Halloween project, this time for one that was featured in the October issue of Scrapbook Inspirations by Morag Cutts (which you can find here). I absolutely LOVE the 'Spooky House' and particularly the embossed chandeliers with the bling embellishments - gorgeous!

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Hints of Autumn....

October is my absolute favourite month of the year, so it is appropriate that my first ever blog post is dedicated to all things autumnal! 'Life and Layouts' is sort of an experiment for me. After a four year hiatus, I finally have a bit more time to devote to scrapbooking and general crafts, and as I slowly resurrected my hobby over the summer of this year, I literally could not believe how scrapbooking has evolved since I started back in 2004. I wanted to become a small part of the scrapping community that has developed over the past few years - both in the UK and worldwide - and it seemed that the obvious way to become involved was to showcase some of my creations online. So, this blog is primarily for all things crafty, but, since scrapbooking is all about preserving memories, I am pretty sure that elements of my own life will gradually filter through as well.

At the moment I am trying to figure out how everything on Blogger works (I'm not quite a technophobe, but I do get easily confused...) so for today's post I have uploaded an autumnal collage that I created on Picasa. I am ordinarily based in London, but last weekend I popped home for a family birthday, which provided the ideal opportunity to capture some seasonal magic! All but the middle picture were taken in my parents' garden, whilst the shot of the pumpkins was taken at Secretts Farm Shop (which is a fantastic find if you live in Surrey). I edited the photos using my new latest online obsession, Picnik, and then uploaded the photos to Picasa. I have since used the collage to create a 'colourful' Autumn-themed decoration for the living room, so check back soon for the result!
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