Saturday, 29 December 2012

Hatter's Hope: sparkle

Hello! Happy period-between-Christmas-and-New-Year! This time is always a bit of a blur for me; I never remember what day it is, I rarely do anything before midday, I have trifle for breakfast every short, it's proper holiday time!

It also means I have time to post - I meant to do this last week but it got sucked into the Christmas vortex.

The current challenge over at Hatter's Hope is sparkle (why don't you give it a go?). For this one I got out my embossing powders, which I haven't used for a while. So I thought I'd show you how I use them!

These are my embossing powders. I've got sparkly ones, black ones, and metallic ones. The black powder is best used with stamping rubber stamps on an embossing ink pad; the finished result gives you raised lines you can colour inside and a shiny outline to your image. The metallic ones are good for outlines, or having solid blocks of gold or silver. The glitter ones are good for things like this sparkle challenge!

So first of all I coloured up Sammi's Fairy Set. The digi has her fairies, LilyRose and Charlotte Rose, in two sizes, so I did the bigger ones in foresty greens and purples, and the little one in a red dress - like a forest berry perhaps?

Then I coloured in their wings and the little one's red dress with the clear embossing ink. I have a pen for this purpose - looks a little Copic-like with the double ends. I wondered whether the ink would change the colours of the Copics I'd used, but it didn't change too drastically.

You only need a tiny amount of powder to cover the image, but it's hard to be precise. So the best way of doing it is to pour the powder over the whole image, then tip the excess onto a card and pour it back into the container. I've used these powders a lot in the past and haven't had to buy refills yet - they go a long way! Once I've shaken the excess off, I brush over the parts of the image I don't want to be embossed with a small, soft paintbrush, just to loosen any stray particles and give the embossed bits a clean edge.

Lastly, you heat up the paper to melt the powder, which sticks it onto the page and gives it a shiny finish. You can use any heat source that won't burn the paper; I used to use a toaster to heat it from underneath, which was quite effective. I do have this heat tool, which blows very hot air but a bit more directed than a hair dryer. You have to be careful if using something like a hair dryer, that the powder doesn't come unstuck and blow off the page. That would leave you with a very blotchy result.

And this is how they look after their heat setting!

Much less messy than using glitter and glue, as the glitter doesn't fall off once it's been heat set.

Then I put the card together, with the fairies sitting in a tree, daydreaming. I used some cloud stickers and sentiment from a kikki.K sticker book. Now I have it sitting on my bookshelf and I feel quite pleased when I see it as I come down the hall to my room!

Friday, 28 December 2012

tired now

I often get to this time of day and think I should blog, but am so tired I can't think of how to write in an engaging and interesting way. But hey. I opened the wordpress window and started typing, and that's all it takes, really, isn't it? Even if it isn't very interesting.

The Christmas period, with all its busyness, food, carols, reflection, family, friends, and church things has finally passed. Though I am exhausted now, I did enjoy Christmas this year. The church events were really happy, encouraging occasions. I think people who were visitors to the church got a clear gospel presentation and were prompted to think about Jesus.

I got to be Chomp again on Christmas Day. People laughed in the right places too, which is gratifying.

Christmas Day was cool and stormy and perfect weather for turkey wellington, which was rather delicious. Mum was annoyed that it didn't look the same as the photo; my brother said "it wouldn't be Christmas if mum wasn't apologising for the food, even though we're enjoying it."

Then on Boxing Day we had more turkey wellington, ham, trifle, pudding, salads, cheese bread and other yummy things when various friends and family members came round to hang out in our backyard. I love having people over, even if I don't sit and talk to them much. I just like having people at my place.

There were reports of craziness in the Boxing Day sales as usual, and today there were reports of traffic jams up and down the coast as usual. The reporters write about these things like they are outrageous scandals. I wonder what would happen if, one year, they just didn't write those stories. The world would probably go on.

I don't understand the thing of queueing up for The Sales. We went to the shops this afternoon, had no trouble parking, wandered around at a leisurely pace, found the things we wanted in our sizes with hefty discounts, and came home again with nary a pulse rate quickened. It doesn't seem that the discounts on anything are large enough to warrant queueing for hours, shoving your way into the shop with hundreds of other people at your heels, grabbing whatever you can find, pawing over the merchandise so that someone else doesn't get to it first. I could understand if, say, the shops were giving away free televisions or something, but even so I'd have to be guaranteed to get one to make it worth the effort.

Now do you see why I don't often blog when I'm this tired?

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Magnolia blanket

This isn't a newly finished project, but I realised I never put pics up of the end result and it's all been papercraft here for the last few posts so it's high time we had some yarn craft. Here's my magnolia afghan! It's been keeping me warm since April, and even when the weather is warmer it looks nice draped over the end of my bed.

It's a very easy pattern for a very satisfying result. You basically crochet the large shapes, then the smaller triangles and sew them all together into one long panel. Then you crochet along one side and keep going until it's as long as you want (or, in my case, until you get sick of doing nothing but long, long rows).

In the pattern, the top panel was supposed to be vertical rows, but I preferred the horizontal stripe, so I just did the same as on the bottom panel and crocheted along until it was as I wanted. Then I went all around the edge in double crochet stitches to bind it.

I love the yarn I used too, as it self-stripes and makes the blanket look a whole lot more complex than it actually is! Also, being Lincraft yarn it often goes on sale, so I would just wait until there was a sale and buy up a bunch. Seeing as it has a mixed colour it didn't matter too much if the yarn wasn't from the same dye lot (there wasn't a lot of variation as far as I could tell).

I probably would have finished the whole thing quite quickly if I hadn't started it in spring...but crocheting a giant blanket in summer was not the most enjoyable thing to do so I waited until the autumn months to finish it off. It gives me great pleasure to see it on my bed! There is really nothing quite as satisfying as making something beautiful that is also practical.

Yarn: Lincraft Surprise - dark multi mix
Pattern: Magnolia Afghan by Lion Brand Yarns

Hatters Hope: the Magical Tree

There's a new release at Hatter's Hope, inspired by Enid Blyton's The Magic Faraway Tree! These were definitely my favourites of her books...I didn't really like the Famous Five or the Secret Seven or the Egregious Eight (okay I made that last one up). But The Magic Faraway Tree was somewhere I wanted to go, with its silly folk and yummy-sounding snacks and the amazing places it led to.

Sammi obviously loved those books too! Her range of stamps include the Silk Fairy, Pan Man, Mr Moonhead and assorted fairies and mushrooms. I chose the Silk Fairy with her long, golden hair to colour - mainly because she has the snacks! I decided to colour her in a bright, storybook style.

Unfortunately when I was putting the card together, I was very tired after a long week of work and carols and busyness. I just couldn't get it to look how I wanted. I wanted to do a kind of woodland-feeling card but of course hadn't used the right colours for that, the birds washi tape didn't look strong enough, and the oak leaves I punched out with my hole punch looked a bit messy and so I started pulling it apart and...well, the card actually no longer exists in this form anymore. It has been reduced to its component parts and awaits a time when I have a bit more creative energy!

PS. I came across this 2006 article talking about the 'sanitising' of Blyton's books. I agree with the article's author: "it is all palpable madness".

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

I may just sleep right here.

You guys. I am so tired. I can't even...

Driving to work is quite dangerous at this level of tiredness, because I'm still okay to keep plodding along, but not really as alert as I ought to be when behind the wheel. And then I start to think about how bad it would be if everyone in the cars around me was as tired as me, and then I start to worry I'll crash but not enough to pull over and then I'm at work so I go inside and drink lots of coffee.

But I got through the mega week that was last week! And now, suddenly, it's only a week until Christmas. And only two weeks until it's a whole other year!

That's just crazy town.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

shining a light on Christmas

I wish there was an online version of Southern Cross I could link to - the lead article by Judy Adamson in this month's issue about Christmas celebrations is really great. Good stuff for me to think about in these final few days before our Wild Carols event on Sunday night (and another one in Canterbury that Lachy, Tim and I are involved with on Saturday).

Archie Poulos has articulated what I'm aiming for with Wild Carols this year:

Archie Poulos says it's important for Christians to stop thinking that everyone in the community understands the meaning of Christmas.
"If you asked a group of people in their 20s or 30s what Christmas was about there'd be a religious element to it, but exactly what it is doesn't matter because it's about a 'vibe', not truth," he says.
In exactly the same way, he adds, people with no faith at all can cry at a carols service because they're not responding to "the truth of God become man, they're responding to a notion - a vibe of something".
"For them [Jesus is] a part of a story like Santa is a part of a story - like the emotion I feel when I get together with my family is part of the story. So what our task has got to be is not to mock and dismiss these other elements but to shine the light on the part of the story that actually makes the story. Put the spotlight on that, show why that's the most important thing and give people a framework through which they can understand more of what's happening."

I hope we can shine the light on Jesus for people this weekend. Come along to the Canterbury Church Plant on Saturday at 7:30, or Wild Street on Sunday at 6:30 - we should have lots of fun!

Saturday, 8 December 2012

mi casa

It's been a week of home improvements, of the expensive kind. But it's been largely successful, so I feel some spruiking is required.

A bit of background - our house used to be one whole dwelling, which was used as an accounting firm/home/teddy bear making facility (don't ask). There was ducted air conditioning, an alarm system, a quite extensive sprinkler network throughout the big landscaped backyard and front yard, and backyard lights. When they couldn't sell the whole dwelling, they decided to turn it into semis and just put a line down the middle. So they blocked off the air conditioning, cut off the alarm, and took all the vital operating bits (such as pumps and connectors) to the sprinkler system. Andy's side (926) has the controls for air con and the alarm. Our side just has the dud vents and blinky alarm detectors that go on and off but do nothing.

We decided to get air conditioning installed and it seemed to make sense to use the vents/ducts that were already there. It took a while to organise the money to do it, but this week I got the chaps from J&J Metro West (whose office is right next to ours in Rydalmere) to come and install a new Daikin system (they ended up replacing the ducting but used the existing vents). They were really friendly, professional and well-priced - I'd happily recommend them to anyone.

Of course, since we had the system installed, the weather has been rather cool (much like how when you get the car washed it invariably rains). So I feel that has been our service to all of you living in Sydney: installing air conditioning has brought a cool change, rendering the air conditioning unnecessary. You are welcome.

I also had someone from Magnetite come in and quote to retrofit double glazing in the bedrooms, to cut the traffic noise down. But it's unlikely to be installed til January, so I will let you know how that goes (I am SO looking forward to that happening).

The last thing I had done was to do an all-out offensive strike against the ant armies that are encroaching upon our domicile. The place had been fumigated before we moved in, and we even had the dude come back under warranty because there seemed to be more ants than were normal, but he wasn't really much help.

Mum tried spraying, laying ant baits, putting down ant rid, ant sand, magic ant chalk (given to her by someone at work and, as it turns out, illegal in the US)...anything with ant in the title really. But after an initial cull, they would just cut a path around whatever measures we had taken, scoffing and laughing at our puny attempts. She has been getting increasingly stressed about the ants, their cunning and their evil. I had to point out that ants didn't really operate under any sort of moral compass, but she didn't want to have a bar of it.

The day they invaded the kitchen cupboards was the last straw. Although they did not breach our impenetrable Tupperware line of defence, they were everywhere and it was kind of gross, really. 

I didn't really know who to call, so I just did some googling. Nationwide Pest Control's site impressed me, mainly because it was well-laid out, provided the relevant information (ie, what the service entailed and how much it would cost), and allowed me to book online. I got a call the next day confirming the appointment, and a call on the day to say the guy was on his way.

He was friendly, confident, took care of business and seemed to know his stuff. I made a point of telling him what I thought about the website, because I think positive feedback ought to be passed on, and he seemed very proud of the whole business. He reckons after a month of the ants carrying poison back to the nest and gradually dying out, we should be relatively ant free for at least a year, if not longer. Hurrah!

When I mentioned mum's ant paranoia to the pest controller he said "yeah I'm pretty sure we're not at the top of the food chain, we just exist to serve the ants." Which of course reminds me of this:

But not for another year at least! Mwa ha ha!

Thursday, 6 December 2012


I do think the decreasing of my blogging coincides with my uptake of Twitter. I used to actually blog about the minutiae that I tweet about I guess I didn't stop saying things, I just changed the channel I chose to communicate with (that was quite deft alliteration there, did you notice that?).

But as a result my writing is now in little drips rather than torrents of words.

I have said it before, too, but my embracing of technology has also led to a decline in my writing generally. I used to carry around notebooks and pens everywhere and take any opportunity to write about ideas, things around me, people who looked interesting on the bus, that sort of thing. Lachy suggested I try and record similar thoughts as I drive, but it's kind of harder to get into the right creative mode while being assaulted on all sides by Sydney traffic. Unless I wanted to write about Sydney traffic. Which I don't, really.

Though I did have an idea for a book the other day while I was getting a haircut. And I made some notes and still haven't completely gone off the idea, so I should nurture that little seed. There is also the series on body image and the Christian that I keep meaning to think about, research and write (rather than rants off the top of my head when I'm feeling fat).

Hmm. So there is stuff in that head of mine.

Alright, gentle readers (at this point it might just be mum and Barbara, but I fear even they may have given up on me), I will endeavour to keep to a more frequent blogging schedule. Even if there's not that much to say, writing regularly and thinking about what to write has to be a good thing.


Mum's giving up on checking my blog. You might wonder why she checks it so frequently, given that we live together and talk all the time. But clearly she thinks I have something to say that I am Keeping From Her.

I don't really, but I should think of more things to say.