Black forest gateau macarons

11.8.15 - 22:34

I'll start today by telling you that this is a bit of an experiment. Not my baking, well, maybe. Actually that's always a bit of an experiment, but that's not what I'm talking about.

I'm attempting to blog from a tablet rather than a proper computer. I have a fond idea that I'll get more written if I don't have to sit at a desk. That it won't feel like work. Less formal. We shall see.

On to the baking. The start of a new series of the Great British Bake Off has once again ignited my interest in baking. Last week I made the rookie error of not having any treats in for scoffing whilst the program was on! So my brain was quickly running through what was in the cupboards in an attempt to find something to reconcile the situation.

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Learning French

2.3.15 - 22:20


J'ai commencé à apprendre Français encore. C'est le deuxième fois. J'avais appris à l'école mais avec pas beaucoup succés.

[ Hello there! ]

[ I've started learning French again. It's the second time. I did learn at school but with not a lot of success. ]

That's not true. I learned quite a lot, and my reading comprehension is still quite good. I was just a bit lazy and didn't take it very seriously. Now I am enjoying learning irregular verbs. Maybe I would have enjoyed it at school if there had been an app for it like I have now. I'm currently using Brainscape which is a flash card based system for learning all sorts of things.

Or if there had been YouTube videos like these:

Comme une Francais TV - Geraldine is great, she inspired me to start speaking French more
Her show is aimed at people who live in France and want to fit in. So its not for beginners but I find it fascinating! She also has a website - commeunefrancaise.com

Damon and Jo - these guys are funny. They have a LOT of personality. They make travel videos and sometimes French videos as Damon teaches French.

Caillou! - Geraldine, Damon and Jo, and everyone else suggests finding TV programmes in French similar to those you like in English (or your native language). I find these extremely difficult to follow and a lot of the French is slang-y. Not useful when you are still learning. So I started watching Caillou. Yes its aimed at 5 years olds, but it's very sweet and I understand a lot of it. Plus they use real words so the kids can learn.

Tu parle le Français? Or do you speak another language?


Thoughts on Project Life 2014 and plans going forward

2.2.15 - 20:04
Last year I completed a full year of Project Life in the 12x12 format. Well, just about. All the photos are in, there are still some words to type up.

Anyway, after this mega achievement, I asked myself if I wanted to do the same again, and as with the 10k race I ran, the answer was no, not straight away.
Both were very satisfying to complete but also hard work. Enjoyable hard work. Maybe commitment is a better word.
And my Project Life binder is giant. I kept it to one since I did on average one side a week. There is a very boring month where four weeks are on one page. And a couple of extra inserts from trips.

As I asked myself about it, I realised I do still want to document my life and some of the everyday things, but not everything. More of an over view and if I am going to be into this hobby for any length of time (not something that is normally a problem for me) it will need to not take up as much space. I've currently got four 12x12 albums (not all full).

Another thing happened, someone I follow on Instagram has the Heidi Swapp Planner (the new black and white stripe one that goes with the Big Picture class). It's gorgeous.
I know from past experience that a 'planner' is not going to work for me as an alternative to a whole PL but in googling that little beauty I came across some pictures of Heidi's Memory Planner (from last year I think) and some beautiful work people had done with it.

My brain started working on how I really wanted to document things and came up with something based on the memory planner/planners in general but mixed with PL. I think it will be a bit more monthly based - so I can be more selective about what I put in.

I'm making plans - it's got to be ring bound so that I can add/change pages and its got to fit some project life pockets - I like the tallways 3x4, but I probably need more than 4 a week (like in a 6x8)
maybe 6 like the memory planner and tabs like a filofax.

To the drawing board!


Print your own binder

17.1.15 - 18:13
This looks cool. Today I was perusing some planners and binders online and came across this page on the Avery website.

You can get a personalised folder printed and sent to you. There is only the choice of A4 or A5 - but a nicely personalised A5 folder could be a great gift. You could set the inside up with any kind of custom pages - a week in the life set, a holiday journal or an easy to complete December Daily style project. I'd like to design my own, but you could use printable templates from someone like Ali Edwards, Cathy Zielske or there are tonnes on Etsy - like these from Printable Possibility (I've not tried these by the way - it's just an example).

A note on A5 though, you'd have to use custom paper sizes if you wanted to include tabs. That's the issue I found with my Paperchase files. They are made to for exactly A5 paper so anything else, like page protectors, are too big because of the hole punched section. Also whilst we're on the topic of Paperchase - their 6x4 pockets don't fit a 6x4 photo, they are smidge too small, which is fine for crafty projects but a nightmare if you want to slot a bunch of photos in.


'Five minute a day' bread

10.1.15 - 17:00

I've made a start.
As part of wanting to eat more 'real' food I've decided to try making my own bread. I don't want to give up bread entirely, although that would probably be good for me - I'd like to eat stuff without additional chemicals and I want it to taste like bread.

I've noticed that the (admittedly sometimes comforting) sliced white bread we buy tastes of not much. Over christmas we bought a loaf of real bread with cranberries and seeds and it was delicious. Really worth eating. I'd like to eat things that are worth eating. Less but better.

I've made bread before, but I find it extremely annoying. I know, you don't have to do anything whilst it rises, but it still takes that amount of time. I've never been prepared enough to do it in advance. I've tried this no-rise bread from Crafty Kin, maybe I did it wrong but I found it very doughy.

I had checked out the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day website before looking for faster ways of making breads. Now I've finally got to a point where I want to try and have it ready in advance. I got the book for Christmas and it is rising as I write this.

I mixed the dough. Looks gross, but super easy.
Let it rise. Looks even grosser, but you don't have to watch it.
Left it in the fridge.
Cut off a 'lump'. I say lump. Slurrrb is more like it. And managed to form it with a bit of extra flour.
Left it out to 'rise'.

How easy is it?
It's not difficult, but the squishy dough is tricky.

The real test - how does it taste?
It tastes like real bread! It's quite chewy and you know you've eaten it.

There is enough for another boule in the fridge. I'd like to try the pizza next. If we can make Italian style thin pizza I will be extremely pleased. Our trip to Venice has rather ruined any other kind for me ;)


Extending my December Daily 2014

27.12.14 - 20:13
I've decided to extend my December album to the full month. You must be mad I hear you cry.
Stick with me for a moment on this one - do you do project life as well as a December album? Generally? And what about in December?

This is the second year I've done a full 12x12 project life album. Last year I had some trouble sorting out December as I'd put eveything in the Daily and I didn't want to print it out again. Then it finished. I had to put Boxing day - New years eve in the Project life. It was weird.

I've pretty much ended my Project life this year at the end of November, I've realised that if I put all of Decmeber in its own album, I don't have to worry about completeing both.

Plus I did some Christmas-y things after the 25th I wanted to include and another major reason - its snowed on the 26th! yay! Christmas snow pictures. They belong in the December Daily.

I've learned some things this year doing this project.

Firstly you don't need a lot of 'stuff'. I didn't buy anything because I decided to use things I already had. I used a few scraps and a nice little paper pad to do my journalling on, but not loads of bits and pieces.

I don't like working with the small horizontal pockets and large vertical. It's all wrong. 3x4 is awesome for me and I like to add Instagrams and write under them not at the side. It's been a bit uncomfortable with this layout, but worth the challenge and I do love the end product.

When it gets near the end of the season just get it finished. Do the minimum that will finish off a page if you know you won't look at it again for another year!


Merry Christmas

25.12.14 - 09:00

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! x


10 Ways to keep up with your December album

13.12.14 - 10:00

Isn't December just flying by? Every year I forget how fast it goes once you're into the month. Case in point -  the other day I watched
Polar Express as I didn't want to watch one of my real favourite Christmas films as it's not near enough to Christmas. This is silly. I'll never have time to watch them all. I should start in November. (I always watch the full set of Harry Potter in November). Or just get on with it.

This is how I now deal with my December Daily. Just get on with it. I try not to worry too much if something better is going to happen or if there will be a better place for a certain card or embellishment.

'Keeping up' with it seems to be the main reason for people not completing their albums, not enjoying it or not doing it again. How do you 'keep up' during the madness? Here are some ideas.

1. Don't do as many pages
Have you seen Wilna Furstenburg's album this year? It's lovely.  She only does 12 days, and not in a row, she choses to do every few days. This way she has less work to do and can spend a bit more time on the Christmas -y stories without having to find 'filler' (some days are just not festive right?).

2. Use pocket pages
This year I've found it super fast. Photo, photo, photo, write some words, done.

3. Print your photos at home
This might not be an option for you, but if you have a Selphy (or similar) get it set up with plenty of paper and send your photos to print at the end of the day. I like to edit mine (on the iphone) with PicTapGo, put the layouts together with PicFrame (pro) and them print wirelessly with the Cannon app.

4. Make a small album
I wasn't very well last year. I didn't have much energy to spare but I wanted to record the season. (Not that I did much, but I wanted to keep the magic). So I made an album that would take one Instagram photo a day and one one 3x4 journalling card.

5. Choose a more journal based idea
Shimelle's Journal your Christmas is less about craft and more about magic. You could write a few words in bed each night or first thing if you're that way inclined (I am not).

6. Be SUPER prepared
If you love love love Christmas and get excited way before December this might be the option for you - get everything set up for each day with the number etc and leave a gap to stick in the picture/words whatever you like to add.

7. Be not prepared at all
Leave it to total randomness. Pick a card with your eyes shut or let your budgie chose. Less choices means less stress and more time for other things.

8. Set aside a block of time
If you do want to do pages daily - finding a regular time you can work on it is useful. Do you want to get up 20 minutes early? Do you want to use your lunch hour? Can you do it whilst your dinner cooks? Only you know when you really have time. I know I can print photos at night, but I won't have time to put a page together - especially if I've been out.

9. Make a planner instead
Try recording what you are planning to do. If you are busy I bet you've got a calendar already. Leave enough room for a photo and voila! December is recorded. Check out the bullet journal system.

10. Do you even want to keep up?
It's not obligatory! You could do a few days at a time or sit down after christmas and put the pictures in if thats when you have spare time. Between Christmas and New Year is usually a bit quieter for us so I try and finish it then. Otherwise I'll print the pictures and decorate it next year when I feel festive again!

Merry Christmas album everyone!


December Daily 2014 - Starting points

15.11.14 - 14:00

I made my binder and I've cut up some more page protectors. I've also gathered together a box of supplies that I have already. My decision to not buy anything new seems like a good one: I've got plenty. I've even got some nice festive papers left from last year as I ordered Shimelle's Christmas selection and it was huge.

I did get some fabric for the cover. I know, I know, that wasn't the deal, but at John Lewis you can buy fabric by the 10cm. I normally only need 20 - 30cm to cover something like this so it cost about £2. I'm glad I did, it inspires me to actually want to work on it. I'll finish the cover at some point. I might paint the reindeer, I wonder if gold would be too much with the title holder do-dad being brassy?

The paper on the inside is from the My Mind's Eye collection called 'Collectable'. Its a bit vintage-y for me, but I got a bunch of things from the set at TK Maxx really cheap a little while ago. (I love finding scrapbook stuff there.)

I've put a couple of cards in from last year's SNAP collection (Simple Stories). Unfortunately most of these are 3x4 shaped and most of my pockets are 4x3. The 4x6 ones work well though.

I think it's going to be fun.


December Daily 2014 - Plans

8.11.14 - 17:35
It's December Daily season again! Otherwise known as November, for many scrapbookers it's time to start thinking about documenting December, obviously depending on what festivals you celebrate, this could mean different things. I'm in the UK and once Halloween, Bonfire night and Remembrance Sunday are gone for me it's a slippery slope to Christmas. (Which I love).

This will be my third year making a December album. I call it December Daily as I was inspired by Ali Edwards' concept and I like to give her a shout out every time. Especially since my first album really got me into scrapbooking. 

I was ahead of the trend a bit - using a 6x8 folder. You can see some of it here: December Daily 2012Last year I did something a little different and was accidentally ahead of the curve again with a little 4x4 album! It was before the WRMK ones came out so I made it myself. You can see some of that one here: December Daily 2013.

This year, as a challenge to myself I've decided to make the whole project with things I already have. I'm also going to use page protectors this time, which will hopefully make it a little faster to put together. 
Did you ever get the giant project life variety pack? Mine has lasted a year and a half so far and there are plenty left. Unfortunately they are layouts I don't really care for. Mainly the ones based on portrait 6x4 photographs. Like B and D and I'm not a big fan of the one with four 6x6 pockets either. Cue scissors. I've cut them up. Now I have a bunch of 8x6 layouts and a few 6x6s. 

For the actual book, I'm creating a ring binder using the Tim Holtz mechanisms and some thick boards. These are from the back of sketch pads. (I always keep them.) Joining it together will be similar to how I made my kindle cover (see my tutorial here)

Fabric is going to be a bit more tricky for this one though. Hopefully there is something good in my sewing box. There is definitely white cotton. Plan B will be to make it plain and decorate it.
Wish me luck! Check back soon to see how it goes.