Tuesday, January 06, 2015

My Project 52 FAQ's

I've been asked by a few of you who would like to play along a few questions so I thought I'd do up a FAQ section ;)

Q: I would like to join in but I don't think I have 52 unfinished projects - can I still do it?
A: Of course! I'm using it as a way of not only getting things I haven't finished done - but also stuff I haven't started ;) You can put anything on your list, such as presents you want to make for people or cards or even Scrapbook pages.  I'm focussing mainly on crochet, rag-rugging and sewing projects but you can use this as an opportunity to get ANYTHING done.

Q: I have projects that will take more than a week to finish, what do I do?
A: I have a HEAP of projects that will take more than a week so what I'm doing is pairing them up with super quick ones that will only take a day or so to finish, so the rest of the time I can work on the longer project.  This way, I'm still getting a project finished each week.

Q: But it's past week one, can I still join in?
A: Of course! It's never too late to start.  If you want you can change it's name to 'Project Get Stuff
Finished' if it makes you feel better ;) Or you can catch up by doing an extra one or two on a different week.

My Project 52 - Week 2

Hi there Crafty Peeps!
I am so excited to say that I managed to finish my first weeks project - even though half the house has been sick (myself included) and I had really only given myself 2 days instead of 7 seeing as I hadn't come up with this whole plan until 2 days before the end of the first week ;)
Previously I might have held tight to those excuses and used them to not get stuff done, but I dug deep and finished Freya's doll - that I had hoped to get finished before Christmas.  Luckily she is too young to know any different so I got away with it this time ;) So, here is: I still need to do some work on her hair (I'm hoping to make it to Stitch Club tomorrow and pick a few brains for some help) and I will make her some more outfits of course, but the important thing is that she is FINISHED!!

 My UFO for this week is actually the original doll I started for Freya for Christmas, I found the pattern for free online here but as I was making it I thought it was going to be too small so I started the second one from the 'My Crochet Doll' book by Isabelle Kessedjian.

So here is where I had left it when I started the second one.  I'm thinking of deviating from the original pattern and mixing it up a bit, so we'll see how it turns out.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Project 52

So, it's a new year, which is always a good excuse for fresh starts and new beginnings.
I have been slowly decluttering and trying to organise the house - especially as we will be moving again most likely in March. There is a quote that has been floating around the place that goes something like 'Don't let your Past rob you of your Future'.  Sounds good right?

As I was speaking to my gal pal Tracey from SideStreet Vintage today I was lamenting that I hadn't finished my daughter Freya's doll that I was making her for Christmas. She made a comment to me that I should try and get a project finished every week, which got me thinking.....I could do that, I should do that. I have a heap of UFO's (Unfinished Objects) scattered all throughout the house, just waiting for me to finally finish them off. So I've decided to bite the bullet, and commit to a year-long project to help clear all of the numerous unfinished craft creations, so that they are finally finished and done and are no longer cluttering up my house or the back of mind.  
Thus Project 52 is born.

First step was to write down all of the current works in progress (that I can remember) as well as projects that I want or need to start (and finish ;) It's embarassing just how many works in progress (or more accurately works in statis) I have on the go.  And yet, I've still got ideas for more things to make popping and fizzing constantly in my brain. So now, all I need to do is start.  First one to cross off the list - Freya's belated Christmas doll.
Wish me luck!

Monday, February 03, 2014

Epson PictureMate Polaroid Prints

Why Hello There!
Long time, no blog ;)
Yes, I have been especially slack and haven't posted for almost a whole year (gasp!).  Alot has happened in that year, but that very long story I'll save for another day. (You may breathe a sigh of relief ;)

So, I have finally had a chance to play around with my beloved Epson PictureMate and let me tell you - the more I play, the more I love it! How did I ever survive without this cute little gem?  If you are the sort to be organized and on the ball every week (I'm looking at you, Sharlene ;) then maybe you don't need this, but me - I get distracted easily, I resent the time I have to sit at those little photo computer things at Kmart or wherever or even the time going through uploading them to do an online order of prints,  I have tried a few stores and I must say, I'm almost always disappointed in either the quality or the size.  (they often seem to crop bits off  when I have created a file that is 6x4" for printing, could just be me.
 When I want a photo printed, I can just turn that sucker on and print, instant gratification right there ladies ;) Anyhoo, love the PM.  I also love everything Retro, and this of course includes Polaroids.  Some of the PLAUST ladies out there have shown me how easy it is to use the Collect App to create a polaroid style pic per day and that seems to work for them.  My trouble?  I have an Android phone and that App isn't available for Android.  Bummer.  So I decided that there has to be a way to not only print my Instagram pics easily, but also to turn them into polaroid style prints.  I played around and this is what I came up with:

Please note that I fumbled around until I came up with this - if you know of an easier way, please don't hesitate to let me know, but I figured there had to be at least a couple of ladies (or gents ;) out there that are just as technologically clueless as me ;)  Also, I know that you can achieve similar results using Photoshop, but I'm impatient, so I wanted a way to do this just using the PictureMate software - just choosing photos, adjusting a few things and printing. Done.

Step 1.

So, first things first - open up the Epson Easy Photo Print software and select which photos you want to use.  I'm making mine 3x4" size so I'm choosing 2 at a time, but this technique can easily be adapted for single 4x6" prints. Once you've chosen your two (or more) press 'Next Step'.

Step 2.

Next you want to choose the settings of your paper etc.  I have tried with borders and with out and I think it's a  bit easier on the borderless setting.  Because I was doing the two 3x4" prints on the one sheet I chose 2-up. Once you choose 2-up it will automatically choose the first 2 in line and put them side by side.

Step 3.
Now if you left it there - the software will simply blow up the pic to fill the amount of space (ie the whole 3x4 inches).  But we don't want that.  Not only does it cut off some of the pic, it doesn't create the polaroid effect. So, go into Positioning, click 'Rotate all Photos' (this just means that it will do both at once and you don't have to do them one at a time) and click on the arrow shown.  (or whichever one points the photo in the direction you want - remember - for a polaroid we want the empty space under the bottom of the pic).

Now we need to shrink down our pics so that all of the image is showing, plus allowing a border around the top and sides. Using the 'Magnification' slider I found that reducing them each down to approx.  69-71% looks good - but feel free to play around until you are happy with the look.  You will need to click on each image and do this separately.

 Lastly you will need to reposition both pics slightly so that they have that classic polaroid look - equal-ish border around each side and top and extra down the bottom.  You can do this with the Positioning arrows as shown or by clicking on each and moving them.

Now all you have to do is select print, cut them in half and you are done!!

Don't be overwhelmed if it sounds a bit complicated at first (or underwhelmed if it sounds too easy ;)  It really only take a couple of minutes at the most and you are done.

So, hopefully that wasn't too painful for you.  I'm a very visual person so I love a good diagram or photo example so I hope this helps. I'm still playing so if you have any hints or tips I'd be glad to hear them!
Thanks for checking in!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Art Therapy

Hey there bloggers!
Well, I have been a busy bee ;)
 I decided around the end of the year that I would really get into art journaling and I did.  As I was trawling the internet for inspiration I stumbled across a fantastic lady called Tamara Laporte.  She is a mixed media artist who has classes online - with a lot of self-healing type themes to them.  Since this was exactly what I was looking for I signed up for her free class 'Art, Heart and Healing'.  It blew me away as it seemed to release something in me that has always told me that I can't draw, and I just followed the tutorial and was able to create something that I thought was pretty good.  I have always wanted to be able to draw.  I have always been surrounded by the most talented of artists and have been so envious!  What I wouldn't give to have a tiny speck of their talent!  But this class showed me that, sure I'm no Picasso, but maybe, if I tried hard enough, I could create something beautiful.
 So then I noticed that Tamara was running a year long course that involves over 20 different mixed media artists called Life Book 2013.  I gave myself my birthday present early and signed up.  My first 'assignment' was a warm up exercise where we had to create our 'Fairy Art Mother'.  A benevolent, patient and loving figure to provide encouragement and support on our creative journey throughout the year.  I loved this, and after much nervousness and doubt I did it and I love it.  So, I encourage you, if there is something out there  that you have always wanted to try or to do but didn't think you could...why not try?  Take a chance.  Reward yourself.  Reward yourself for continuing to try, even when you would like nothing better than to admit defeat and give up.  Nurture yourself by doing something that soothes you, calms you or replenishes you. 
If, like me, money is a bit (or a lot ;) tight, I still encourage you to check out her site and have a look at her Art, Heart and Healing class or check out a few of the links I've put below.  Donna Downey does a 'Collage Monday' and an 'Inspiration Wednesday' every week that are free.  Or if that's not your thing do what I did, trawl the internet until you find something that inspires.  And share it.  I'm a big believer in sharing the love and paying it forward.  And that doesn't have to be monetary - I am so grateful to have been blessed with the most awesome of friends - most of whom have supported me in some way or other over the years in different ways, but each way so appreciated.  My big thing this year is that we all need to help each other, even if it's a tiny thing like sharing a link or taking a second to write a kind or encouraging comment - instead of a negative one.  It may sound like a mad bit of hippy ranting - but it's true.  So my request?  Be kind.  To others, but most of all to yourself.
My Art, Heart and Healing Art Journal Page
My Fairy Art Mother

Art, Heart and Healing by Tamara Laporte (also check out all of her other classes)
Donna Downey Inspiration Wednesdays
Creative Jumpstart - this is a free thing created by Nathalie Kalbach to 'Jump Start' your creativity.  You sign up and receive emails every day in January that have a free tutorial by a different mixed media artist each day.  Not sure whether you  can still sign up after January, might have to check.  But if you do sign up now you will still get links to all of the previous tutorials in your email. 
A Beautiful Mess Inside -  if you are on Facebook these are great.  If you 'like' their page you then start receiving their posts of funny, inspirational and supportive quotes and memes.  Or you can check out their blog
Check them out and let me know what you think.  If you know of any others I've missed, let me know and I'll add them to my lists!

Monday, December 31, 2012

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly of 2012 - A Year in Review

Wow, 2 posts in one day ;)  Well, what can I say?  I've got some catching up to do ;)
So, in true end of the year style, I thought that I would do a bit of a Year in Review.  Not usually one of my favourite things to do, but I thought that I would just reflect on some of the things that happened and things that influenced me this year.
So, without further ado, my Top Ten (warts and all) Highlights and Lowlights of 2012. (in no particular order)

1.  Moving.
This has got to be number one.  We finally moved this year, after being in the same (skanky ;) rental house for 10 years.  It was too small, our boys Connor (13) and Hamish (6) were sharing a very small room together and, let's just say, it wasn't working.  I think poor Connor was feeling very displaced because he had been an only child for 7 years and then Hamish came along. Suddenly, everything was different and his room wasn't his own anymore and frankly, he had nowhere to hide.  Now, the boys have their own separate rooms and have their own space, and we can all breathe a little easier.  The old house was also between 2 main roads, so we would be trying to go to sleep to the sounds of constant traffic, emergency vehicles roaring past or the screech of near misses and crashes when they didn't miss.  Our new house isn't flash or huge, but it has room for the boys, a craft room ;), a bit of a man-land, a garden bit (that I'm cultivating and trying desperately not to kill with my black thumbs) and a little outdoor-ish nook where the frogs are, Dion can hide and where I've also been finding myself spending time doing messy art journalling.  Without sounding like a giant hippie  - this house is old and quirky and has a great, relaxing vibe.

2. Lee.  
2012 also saw the gaining of and losing of a lovely and inspiring friend.  For a too brief time I was privileged enough to meet and become friends with a beautiful woman named Lee Irvine.  When I first met Lee it was like love at first sight.  There is really no other way to describe it, and I wasn't the only one who felt the same.  She was an absolute cracker!  Funny, vibrant, beautiful, energetic and full to the brim with life. Unfortunately, though you wouldn't know it to look at her, Lee had been battling with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma for 5 years.  Lee came to the store (still Stamp and Scrapbook Madness then) and did classes, and was never empty handed.  I swear in those few months none of us had eaten so many Tim Tams in our lives!  Sadly though, after having a set back in her hopes for a new treatment, Lee decided that she didn't have it in her to fight any longer, and she took her life before the Cancer could claim it completely.  She was definitely an Angel and we were blessed to have her for what time we did.  Even now she inspires me, and also helps me to be grateful for what I have.

3. Babies, Babies, Babies! 
Not mine (thank goodness!) but it seems that you shouldn't be drinking the water because so many of my friends and family have either just had, or are about to have, babies!  My good friend Rachel had her beautiful baby Molly, her eldest daughter Amy is about to pop (so to speak;) one of my best friends from high school, Darlene, bashfully revealed that she is expecting her first, my old room mate Sally, gave birth to her first child, Charlotte, only a month or so after finally revealing on Facebook that they were expecting at all and another of my peeps, Krischelle is enciente! (that's french for up the duff ;) I'm sure there are more that I've forgotten..oh yes, one of my Nephews became a father for the first time and my fave Niece (not mentioning any names ;) is preggers again! Phew, it's hard to keep up.

4. Technology. 
This year I finally got a laptop (yay!) something that I had been yearning for for a long time.  I also finally gave in and got a smart phone.  My old phone was not really working anymore, I needed something more reliable and also thought that maybe a smart phone could help me be more organized....well, I don't know if it does or not but, hey, I know when my work shifts are and most of my calender-y things are on it....it also meant that Sharlene was able to get me addicted to Instagram though ;)

5. School.
This year was the only one that Hamish and Connor will spend at the same school, Hamish was in Prep and Connor was in Year 7.  They both went to Norman Park State School, which was great, but with the move we have put Hamish in Bulimba State School as it will be so much easier.  Also, I never bonded with any of the parents at Norman Park, even though Connor was there 5 years.  I'm sure most of it was me, but I just felt really awkward talking to any of the parents.  I'm hoping it will be better at Bulimba.  Already though, my reputation precedes me as some of the staff know me from SSM ;)  Connor will be going to Balmoral High (eek) I still freak out that he is a teenager - let alone about to start High School.

6. Pinterest. 
This has been one of my biggest addictions this year!  As of this moment I have 2731 pins, 75 boards, 234 followers and I follow 312 people. And those numbers just keep on rising everyday.  I just find it a fantastic way to keep all of my inspirations and things in one place and some semblance of order.  I love it.

7. True Blood, Charlaine Harris and Alexander Skarsgard (sigh)
Although I have always loved The Sookie Stackhouse novels and True Blood (the TV adaptation of the books) for some strange reason my obsession reached new heights this year.  I actually love both the books and the TV series equally - strangely it doesn't bother me that they are so different, it's sort of like a choose your own adventure story and it runs along similar lines but at different tangents...or how the story would be in a parallel dimension or something.  Dion, Kylie and I even went to an author event jigger and saw Charlaine Harris in the city and got to listen to her talk about the books, the TV series, her life, writing and ask her some questions.  (Actually the lovely lady I met in the elevator there Heidy is pregnant at the moment - so add that to the tally).  Either way, I love both and this year I become even more enamoured.  Especially with the actor that plays Eric Northman - Alexander Skarsgard.  I mean, once you cop a good look at him it's not hard to see why I would be obsessed by him, but still, I did have a moment there when I became quite stalker-ish.  I'd like to think that I've calmed down a bit now, but still, if True Blood is on and He walks onscreen, I do instantly become quiet and eerily resemble a hypnotized chicken.

ps - did you notice the screen savers for both my laptop and my phone?  Look closely behind the dandelion...

8. Creativity Overload - and meeting Tim Holtz
It couldn't be a list by a crafty person and not include the meeting of the celebrity that is Tim Holtz ;) When I try and explain what all the fuss is about to the non-craft inclined I usually just tell them that he is the equivalent of a Justin Bieber of the craft world ;)  Not sure that Tim would approve of that comparison, but there you go.   Well, when the craft circus that is the June Scrapbook and Papercraft Expo came to town I was fortunate enough to do the Techniques Overload 8 hour class with the man. (and about 40 other women - including Rachel ;)  I also managed to cram in two full days of Copic Certification so that I now have my Beginner and Intermediate certification. Add to that the general chaos of the show, and the fact that it was Phil and Lois' first... and you get the idea.  Let's just say that I was knackered by the end and needed a good lie-down so that it all didn't just leak out of my ear again.

9. Goodbye Stamp and Scrapbook Madness, Hello Papertrenz
Another huge change this year was the ownership change of the shop where I work.  Fiona, who I had worked for for 3 years or so, sold the business at the beginning of the year as she and her family are moving to Perth.  The new owners, Phil and Lois are lovely people.  (I must say that on the whole over the years I have been blessed with quite good bosses.)  The biggest difference I find (and to be honest the hardest) is the fact that they are not crafty people.  They are lovely and savvy and on the whole quite sensible, so as you can imagine, when the Scrapbooking ladies descended amongst them, it was as though they had been invaded by aliens ;)  My biggest challenge is to maintain some semblance of order in the chaos that I create upstairs, but luckily I have the lovely Sharlene and Jeanette to help keep me in line.

10. Project Life
The final thing to mention that has been a big influence on my year would be the whole Project Life concept.  Although I had been dabbling with this concept for a couple of years and by no means kept up to date with the weeks and pages, this year I found I have started using this format for the majority of my scrapbooking.  I have found it hard to be inspired with so much going on (and don't get me started on the state of my craft room since the move) but the pocket pages, the focus on journaling and the ease with which it can all come together is just so appealing for me.  I still love the traditional 12x12 pages and will always continue doing them, but for the day to day, and especially the messy stuff, this format just works for me.

Well, that's about it.  I've tried hard not to mention the black cloud that hung over me for most of the year, shadowing so much that I almost made it number 11.  Instead I'm trying to focus on the events and the happenings.  I am tentatively hopeful for 2013.  The fact that I can still have hope gives me even more, maybe the new year will bring peace and strength and joy.  The main difference I know is that I have finally admitted that I can't do it all myself.  I am trying to not be a martyr in most things, admit I need help and also realise that people can't help me if they don't know that I need help.
So I'm laying it out there in the new year (so to speak).  And I'm going on the record.  I'm Barbara, I'm broken, and I might need a bit of a hand to put some pieces back together.
Bring on the New Year!

New Beginnings and Full Disclosure

Well hello there, Bloggers!
It's the last day of 2012 and I, for one, am not too sad to see it go.
It's been an interesting one.  Full of change.  Full of beginnings and endings.  Some foreseen and some not so much.
I've had a few people ask me why I haven't been blogging as much as I was.  I mostly just put them off but have decided to share a little something about myself that some of you may, or may not, know.
(be warned - this post gets a bit verbose ;)

 For many years now I have suffered chronic depression.  It's not something I like to shout out to the world, but there it is.  For the most part I have been able to manage it with medication and the odd bit of therapy, but for some reason from the very beginning of this year, for the whole of this year, it has been worse.
For those that have never had to deal with mental illness, or depression it is very hard to understand.
Let me just start by saying this - there is not always a rhyme or reason for it.  Being depressed or having a depressive episode is NOT the same as being sad.  If you are sad there is often a very good reason for it. When I am having a 'bad' day I often get so frustrated because a part of my brain is often yelling at me saying 'suck it up!  what have you got to be sad about?  Things aren't nearly as bad as they have been in the past and here you are falling apart!' But that's just the way it is. I hide, away from everyone (usually in my room) unable to answer the phone, go on the computer - whether to check or respond to emails or anything where there might be a person on the other end.  As much as I try and talk myself out of it, I can't. There's no reason, nothing I can pinpoint, and more often than not, no trigger.  Sometimes I just wake up and it's a bad day.  And that bad day can last for many days and then I'll have a good day, or a good couple of days, and then it's back down to the bottom again.
I think the biggest difference this year is I just haven't been able to 'fake it' as much anymore. People often think that if you act happy and funny and quirky then your life it all sunshine, rainbows and lollipops.  Newsflash, it's not.  Often it's a ruse, an act, to function in the real world.  Except lately it's like I've run out of the energy to cover it all up and the cracks are showing a bit too much.  And I didn't want my Blog to be a whingey. whiny arena ;)   (although you may have noticed that the last couple of posts weren't the merriest ;) So, I stopped. Thinking that when I could fake it a bit better, I'd start Blogging again..... Except, I still haven't gotten to that point again.  Lately, though I have been thinking that maybe, I should just come clean.  Get it out there and move on.  I know that the only way that we can reduce the stigma of mental illness is to be open and honest about it, but it is still hard.
So, bear with me.  I want to still share my quirky, creative journey with you, but just wanted to give you the heads up - it might not always be pretty, and happy happy joy joy.  but I'm trying.  And I've decided that if it helps others by my being a bit honest, then that's an added bonus.  I know that it helps me to know that I'm not the only messy and broken one out there, so I guess, I just wanted you guys to know it too.