Saturday, October 19, 2013

I've just been to Japan.

Akihabara at night

Yes, in real life.

I've spent many hours dreaming of visiting Japan. Probably starting about ten years ago when I was watching a lot of anime. Then a few years later when I got interested in Japanese fashions. More recently I've been excited about the craft and stationery coming from there.

I always had a fond idea that we might go for our honeymoon. Until I actually started planning a wedding realised how much it costs! (I have no idea how people pay for a 'holiday of a lifetime' and a wedding in the same year.) As it turned out, that was the year of the awful earthquake/tsunami and following nuclear disaster at Fukushima. Not the ideal time for a visit.

So how did we end up going to Japan? We had an opportunity to stay with someone who is living out there and off we went! We booked the flights and a month later, on our 2nd wedding anniversary, we set off. I'm glad we had a bit of time plan, but not too long to wait.

It was a fantastic trip. We got to see some awesome things first hand, both traditional and pop culture. Our adventures covered parts of Yokohama, Shibuya, Harajuku, Ginza, Odiba, Akihabara and Takao mountain. Tokyo is the coolest place I've ever been. Before this trip it was New York, which is a pretty amazing city in itself.

Stay tuned to hear more about our trip. Including what it was like at Harajuku and my favourite sushi place of all time.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

A rare visit to the flea market

There are lots of blogs about vintage 'finds' these days. People seem to find all kinds of great things at markets and fairs which are stacked with stunning stuff.

There is a flea market in my town every week on a Thursday. Not one of those cool, hipster, look at all the great vintage stuff, type flea markets. Just the type where people sell old stuff on market stalls. I used to go quite regularly when I was younger. There was a stall just selling old buttons off uniforms. Once I bought some shockingly awful furry green curtains... but that's another story. 

Since I now have to travel a bit further for my job, I can't even visit on a lunchtime so it's rare that I get to have a trawl round the stalls. Today I happened to be off work and in town so I couldn't resist having a look. 

Check out what I found. It's a double-decker test tube rack. I'm not sure it's particularly old or anything. Maybe it's from a chemistry set? It has three rows of glass test tubes, two on the front and one on the back. The row on the back are all different shapes and stored upside down. 

I cleaned it up a bit and put a single rose in each tube. It would probably be nicer with some more delicate looking flowers, but roses were available, so I tried them first. Pretty, no?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Making rubber stamps

Remember my nearly totally free stamps I made before? Well this is a bit of a step up. You have to buy the rubber to cut them from. But they are still pretty simple to do.

My friend Em was really awesome and organised a crafty gathering at her house. Just in case you are thinking, that sounds really great ... well, it was! This is pretty new for me, I've not known a lot of people who are into the crafts before so I was excited to meet some new folks and give this one a go together.

It seems like its best to go for a simple design and to use a scalpel/craft knife to cut away the excess rubber. We tried it with lino cutting tools too, but the lines came out really wobbly :( The rubber is like a high quality eraser in a big flat sheet. A little softer maybe. You can cut it down with scissors.

I made a new set of 'flags' since I miss the cardboard ones I made before. They have a high-easiness-to- impressiveness factor. By that I mean they are easy to cut but look way cool. I also made a cloud that was a bit more difficult (curves!) and a cute little camera for when I get round to some more scrapbooking.

Em has written something a bit more like a tutorial if you are interested. Check it out on her blog.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Chalkboard art - my first attempts

I'm not usually one for going with a trend, but this one has tickled my fancy. It's 'chalkboard art'. We always called them blackboards when I was at school, but now its all interactive whiteboards.

Anyway, I've made a Pinterest board with a few of favourites so far on it. Some of the best examples around at the moment are by Dana Tanamachi  an artist/designer based in Brooklyn.
I'm not great at drawing generally, but I do a lot of typography, so I thought I'd have a go myself. I actually drew this in pencil and used a little photoshop magic to get the effect, but I might get round to using actual chalk after a bit more practice. This photoshop tutorial is very helpful for getting the effect.

I'm quite pleased with it for a first attempt. What do you reckon?

Saturday, February 02, 2013

New project: Italy scrapbook

If you've been reading a while you may know that I got married a couple of years ago. My new Husband and I went on a trip to Italy for our honeymoon and had a fab time. We travelled by train a lot and saved lots of tickets, maps and other bits and pieces. Unsurprisingly we also took hundreds of photos! We've never printed out any of the pictures. I'd like to get a nice photo book done but in the mean time, I'm going to choose a few and make a scrapbook.

Since January is generally a bit of a ... frugal month, I've spent a lot of time picking the right supplies for this new project. I want to use some things I've already got but also add a few bits to bring it all together. In the end I chose some papers and tabs from Pink Paislee's Portfolio collection and a great stamp made by Kaisercraft. I really like yellow at the moment so I've gone for a yellow, grey and turquoise colour scheme. Hopefully it will work well with the pictures and stories I want to tell.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Book list 2012

Last year I recorded all the books I read for fun. I wondered how many I'd get through and whether they would be new to me or mainly old favourites. Here is the full list from 2012. I've copied it from my 'Books tab' so that I can start filling that with 2013's list.

So assuming I remembered to write them all down I got through 35 novels, nowhere near my target of 50 (seems like I really slowed down in the second half of the year). 22 were new to me and 12 were re-reads. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline was one of my favourites and will probably appear in my re-reads list next year. 

What was your favourite from last year?


What have you been reading? At the beginning of 2012 I decided that I would keep a list of all the books I read during the year. I wonder how many I'll get through? I'd like to find a book club too so hopefully I'll be reading some books I wouldn't normally pick up.


It's August now and I've read 26 books this year. I think 50 would be a good target. I've joined and left a book club. I was reading books I didn't like, what's the point of that? Maybe I'll find another I like more.


(r) means that I'm re-reading a book from my bookcase
(book club) means someone else chose it

The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit
The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson (r)
Virtual Light by William Gibson (r)
Idoru by William Gibson (r)
All Tomorrow's Parties by William Gibson (r)
The Dark Tower: Gunslinger by Stephen King
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (r)

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (book club)
Kraken by China Miéville
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (book club)
The Door into Summer by Robert Heinlein (r)
How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Márquez (book club)
Lightborn by Tricia Sullivan
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (r)
The Technician by Neil Asher
The Traveller by John Twelve Hawks 
Death of an Expert Witness by P.D. James
Pure by Julianna Baggott 
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline 
Mockingbird by Walter Tevis
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Burton and Swinburne in the Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder
Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell
Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne  (r)
Original Sin by P.D.James
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens  (r)  not all the Christmas books - the others are rubbish
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer  (r)
New Moon by Stephenie Meyer  (r)
Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer  (r)
Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer  (r)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

December Daily

Have you ever made a rule for yourself that was totally arbitrary?

I decided that the next thing I would put up here on my blog would be my December Daily album. Turns out that was not such a great idea. It's taken a little longer than expected and I've missed posting lots of other Christmas stuff in the mean time using my stupid rule as an excuse. Maybe I'll add some of those things in later (my blog, my rules, right?).

Anyway, let's back up a bit. Last year I started getting interested in Scrapbooking. Ali Edwards (who I've talked about before) does a project every Christmas called December Daily. It records a story a day from the 1st to the 25th or the 31st of December. You can choose what ever format you like, so there's nothing to buy, which is handy and I love Christmas so I thought I'd have a go myself.

I used a 6x8 inch folder from Paperchase and started making some pages to fit inside in November. It's still not quite finished. I knew I wouldn't have time to do each page on the day, there's lots going on in December, which I suppose is part of the point?

Here are a few pages from my album. It was really fun putting it together, just playing with paper without any pressure for it to be perfect. I tried not to buy lots of extra stuff either, I bought one 6x6 paper pad and some wooden embellishments. The rest is things I already had or picked up along the way. I got all the photos printed at Boots every four or five days, they are mostly 4x3 inches. I arranged two pictures per 6x4 'photo' and just got them printed normally.

December Daily cover
Title page - I'm going to put my name on that tag and finish the
inside cover at some point
December 1st was pretty busy
December 2nd
December 4th - not so exciting
December 16th - THe Muppet Christmas Carol at the cinema
December 20th - the bottom right bit is not finished, but I love the rest,
so I thought I'd include it :)

Friday, November 30, 2012

More Christmas crafts

This week I've been working on more crafts for the festive season. One of the things I've made I've actually been wanting to make for ages. It's a really old Martha Stewart project where you use jingle bells to make a wreath. Not like a giant door wreath, more like a decorative item that you can put on a door handle so you get a festive sound every time you enter the room.

Here is my attempt. It looks okay. I tried to make it a bit bigger by using the biggest size bells I could get. Unfortunately the bells are not very jingly so it is staying on a wall rather than a door.

Also they seem to be quite popular this year, so maybe I'll just buy a proper metal one from TK Maxx.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dear Santa

If someone would like to make this I would be really pleased. The pictures don't even have to be sticky, I've got five different kinds of tape. Thanks.   

Friday, November 16, 2012

Christmas Crafts

This year I am attempting to start my Christmas crafting earlier. I usually get dead into the idea in December when it's getting a bit late really. So this is my newest tree decoration. A tiny knitted sweater!

I've not done a lot of knitting before. I already knew how to 'cast on' and do a basic knitting stitch but I had to learn the how to 'purl', do a 'stocking stitch' and 'cast off', from you tube. I love the internet.

I found the pattern at Just Crafty Enough when I was looking for a pattern for tiny mittens (which they also have) but they were way too difficult for a beginner like me. They are done on circular needles. eep.

You'll see that Kathy from Just Crafty Enough has knitted a cute little pattern into her sweater. No idea how she did that. I'm thinking about sewing a snowflake into mine with white wool. I'm not sure if that will work.

Anyway, I'm really pleased with it. It didn't take too long either so I might manage another. Probably as close to knitting an actual jumper as I'm going to get any time soon.