Adventure planning: Paris

10.8.14 - 10:00
"Once a year, go somewhere you've never been before."
Dalai Lama 

I am a firm believer in visiting places you've never been before and although they don't have to be far away, I do like those kinds best. Last year I was very fortunate to visit two countries I'd not been to before. They were fabulous trips but it did mean that I didn't think I'd be going anywhere outside these shores this year!

However, I started getting the wanderlust and happened across a cheap flight to Paris, so I booked it. I have been to France before but Ive only really passed through Paris, which seems like a bit of an oversight.

I've heard conflicting views on Paris as a city, some folk say it's beautiful and romantic others that it's dirty and full of rude people. But it is definitely home of the Macaron so I'm excited to see what it's like for myself.

This is going to be the first time I've used Air BnB too, which is an adventure in itself!    


Make you own: Nexus 7 or Kindle case

6.4.14 - 20:00

Once upon a time I was looking for a cover for my Nexus 7 tablet. I came across the 'Alano' made by Portenzo. I like that it looks like a notebook (rather than something expensive) yet would still protect the device from scratches and bumps. What I didn't like was the price. I'm not about to pay £70 to protect a tablet worth £150. Even if it is pretty.

So I made my own using some easy book-binding techniques. It's held up rather well so I thought I'd share the process with you. 

It's not a replica - it's just a basic cover made mostly from things you probably have around the house if you're into crafting. You could use it to make a case for almost any tablet or e-reader. 

How it works

It's basically like a hardback book. The covers are held closed by a piece of elastic which is attached to the back. The device is held inside with sticky pads like the HARDcover DODOCase (I thought this was the easiest way to go since the the Portenzo case has a carved wooden surround!). Another option would be to make elastic corners to hold it in place.

What you'll need:

- Book board or the back of a good sketch book (A4)
- Fabric (a fat quarter is plenty) or book cloth (This fabric is curtain material from a sample book but you can use whatever you like. I used patchwork fabric for the first one I made.)
- Scrapbook paper (12x12)
- Wide flat elastic, about 25cm (I've used ribbon in these photos so you can see it more clearly)
- Restickable tabs (I got these at WH Smiths)
- PVA glue
- Ruler
- Pen
- Scissors
- Craft knife & cutting mat


First off, take you piece of board and measure out the front and back covers. Make sure there is a bit of a border to protect the edges of your device. (For my Nexus 7 I found that the width of the A4 board was about right for the height.) 
Using the same height measurement, also cut a 'spine' for your case.  Make sure it's thicker than the fattest part of your tablet - probably around 1 to 1.5 cm. (According to the specs - the Nexus is 10.45mm thick.) 

Remember: measure twice cut once!

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Happy Mother's Day

30.3.14 - 20:00

This year for Mother's Day I was going to make a card for my mama but I am still a bit low on energy so I elected to alter one instead. Altering cards is a great way to make them a bit more personal but with all the hard work already done for you. You can also pick cards that are not quite the sentiment you wanted and bend it to your will.

I took this card from M&S:

And made it into this one:

I used a few scrapbooking supplies and cut out the lettering with the Silhouette. What do you think? 


Introduction to scrapbooking with Hallam Roses WI

23.2.14 - 18:00

On an extremely windy and grim evening in February I went to talk to the ladies at the Hallam Roses WI about scrapbooking. Hallam Roses is a new wave WI, which means the members are generally younger, but there isn't an age limit.

I talked a little bit about how easy it is to use Project Life and showed a few of my travel journals. I really wanted to get across that you can do as much or as little as you like with the hobby. I think that it encompasses a wide range of possibilities with a photo album at one end and a diary at the other. In between are every cross over of photo/art/design/journalling you can think of.

Here are some links if anyone is interesting in getting started in scrapbooking:


Paperclipping - they have a great weekly podcast called the Paperclipping Round Table which is approaching it's 200th episode! They also have a paid membership with video tutorials.

Glitter Girl - a weekly video produced by Shimelle with super hero 'Glitter Girl' who solves people's scrapbooking problems. There are over 100 videos covering lots of topics.
*Unfortunately Two Peas in a Bucket where this was hosted has closed - you can still visit Shimelle's site.*

Mercy Tiara - videos on youtube


My Pinterest board of scrapbook pages

Two Peas in a Bucket gallery
*Unfortunately Two Peas in a Bucket where this was hosted has closed*

My favourite shops:

Crafty Charlie - are based locally to me and so deliver quickly. They also have a points system which often covers my postage costs.
Paperissues - are in America but have regular 20% deals and good shipping rates based on how much you buy.

Project life:
Find out more about the ethos behind this system at Becky Higgins' site.
You can now buy it from Hobbycraft - but you might want to try Scrapbooker's Inner Circle, they have great customer service and (gave the WI a fabulous raffle prize).

Here are links to some of my projects:
Starting project life
Italy Album
Japan Journal
Berlin Jambook


New gadgets

9.2.14 - 17:00
My husband very kindly bought me a Selphy printer for Christmas so that I can print pictures direct from my iphone. I am very pleased with it. It's small and if you buy the 108 paper pack - the price-per-print is the same as 1hour photos at the 'lab' (Boots generally). It's very close to what I described in a post ages ago.

I borrowed this image from amazon.

Well look-y what we have here. You can now get an Instax printer! This is a genius idea. You can get the right shot on your phone and then print it out instantly. I love the randomness of my instant photos, but damn its pricey if they don't come out.

And finally - a stamp 'printer'. This little beauty the 'Pomrie' can make custom rubber stamps. That is so clever. I probably don't use enough stamps to warrant it, but I covet it anyway. It even comes as a wi-fi version.

I love this kind of stuff! Which would you choose?


A new book list 2014

2.2.14 - 16:01
How often do you get those quizzes popping up on Facebook? If you're anything like me you're seeing gadzillions of them at the moment. 'How 80's are you?', 'Which character in Game of Thrones would you be?', 'What flavour ice cream would you be?' You get the picture. They remind me of those quizzes you used to get in magazines, where you'd follow the lines with yes/no next to them or get 'mostly a'.

I'll not tell you how many I've filled in as I may go down rather in your estimations.

I mainly get dragged into the book and film ones. 'How many of these classic sci-fi films have you seen? Our survey says most people have only seen 8%!' Well, I think, well well well, I must have seen loads. But my being conned into giving this exciting data away for free is not the point of this post.

The point is the book ones. I've been a bit short on things to read. I do have a few things I want to get round to, but I hate heading out for the train with no book. (I'm including electronic and paper in that.) So last time I did a 'How many ...' quiz I made a list of all the 'classic' books from the list I had in fact not read (minus a few 'modern classics' which looked rubbish). Then I did it again with the big list of science fiction books and now I have a healthy reading list which I can go to when I complete a volume and not have to flounder any for my next selection.

It's not set in stone. I can pick something else, but all these books are rated by quite a few folks, so at least some of them should be super, right?


2013 book list

5.1.14 - 15:00
Oh books, lovely books. In 2012 I keep a list of most of the books I read. I thought I'd do the same for 2013, but somewhere along the road I kinda stopped recording. So here is my list from the first half of 2013. After these I read a few more - including some travel guides. I like lonely planet for reading before you go. I don't find the guide books are great for specific restaurants as things change so quickly.

I really enjoyed 'Rivers of London'. It's an easy read and feels a bit like a cross between Neil Gaiman's 'Neverwhere' and China Mieville's 'Kraken'. Both of which are great 'urban fantasies' (although Kraken could do with a little editing in my opinion).

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

Pixel to Plate by Helene Dujardin (Tartelette)
Build a Business from Your Kitchen Table by Sophie Cornish & Holly Tucker
The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz
Reamde by Neal Stephenson (kindle) - my first ebook, I read it on my Nexus 7 tablet
Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James
Distrust that Particular Flavor by William Gibson
Pattern Recognition by William Gibson   (r)
A Force to be Reckoned With: A History of the Women's Institute by Jane Robinson
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
The Dosadi Experiment by Frank Herbert
Clocks by Agatha Christie
Peril at End House by Agatha Christie
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (r)
Gateway by Frederik Pohl
Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
Interaction of Colour (50th anniversary edition) by Josef Albers

I also read (most of) 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (I read books 1,2 and part of 3 but by then I didn't care what happened, so I stopped) and another book by Ben Aaronovitch. I'm reading a little bit less recently as I've not been well and it takes more energy to read than listen to podcasts. I might investigate some audio books this year.

December Daily 2013

- 13:54

After the success that was 'December Daily 2012' I wasn't sure if I wanted to do the project again.

Let's rewind to 2012, for several reasons that December was super festive. A couple of my favourite Christmas films were re-released at the cinema, I was feeling really well and we had lots planned for the whole month. I had things to put in the book that were Christmas-y nearly everyday. Not that I did it everyday. I did it three or four days at a time. (Mainly because I like to use real photos - I mean ones processed by a shop, not inkjet printed.)

This year was not quite as festive. Apart from I was not feeling so well, we didn't have that much planned. I decided to give it a go since it was fun, but do a much smaller book. Oddly the shape was inspired by something I saw in the medical history museum in Berlin. A small square shape with a thick spine.

I spent a bit more on supplies this time. I didn't really choose them all though, I ordered a Christmas box from Shimelle. I always enjoy her videos and her taste is somewhat similar to mine, I trusted her to pick some good stuff (and get it shipped from America). I was pleased with most of it - there was a great selection of papers which I used for the pages of my book.

Here are some pages from the inside:

I really enjoyed making the book. It has a very simple construction - the outside is three pieces of book board covered in fabric on the outside and paper on the inside. I made the book's 'signatures' by folding the pages over and stapling in the middle. Each section is held into the spine with red elastic. I could have sewn the sections in but I wanted to be able to rearrange them and give them space to expand as I added to the pages.

I wonder how I shall look back on this Christmas. Looking back at my 2012 book was great fun and brought back a lot of memories.


Books, book, books

8.12.13 - 16:00
Let's talk about books.
I'm a big fan of reading. I find that I am transported to the world described in the story much more thoroughly than whilst watching films. I'm not reading the words on the page anymore, I'm actually there seeing everything happen. Until there is a typo. It feels like:

* * * TYPO * * *

Have you ever done that? Come across a spelling mistake in a book? I find it very jarring. I am yanked out of that world instantly and find myself looking a page. I wonder if that's why some people don't enjoy reading? Maybe it feels like hitting a typo... all... the ... time. If you never get into the flow I can see that reading a whole book would seem like a drag.

We've recently had a bit of a clear out. Our shelves were full, no, our whole house was full. of stuff. so we had to get rid of the things we weren't using and that meant a lot of books. Mainly books that we had read and probably wouldn't read again, or about things in which we are no longer interested.

It's sad parting with books. But many are hopefully finding new homes. We sent some to Amazon's trade-in programme and got some gift cards. Some went to charity and I gave a few to people at my work. The rest went to our local recycling centre where they will either be rescued or pulped to make more books.


Let's talk about Harajuku

30.11.13 - 16:00
Takeshita dori in the rain

I did say that I would tell you more about my trip to Japan. So today I thought I'd write about visiting Harajuku.

It was one of the things I really wanted to do in Tokyo. There are several reasons for this.
- Firstly, it's where all the 'kids' who dress up in crazy fashions and costumes are meant to hang out/shop.
- Secondly there is temple there, the largest in the city set in lots of trees.
- And (secretly) it was a also a bit of a pilgrimage for me from when I was really into Lolita/Japanese fashions.

We visited a couple of times. The first time is when I took the main picture here. It was raining when we came out of the station and I saw the sign for Takeshita dori. There was some building work going on to the left, but I still recognised the pedestrianised area heading down the hill into the street.

Noa cafe, that you can see on the right, serves delicious belgian waffles. I had apple and cinnamon with ice cream.

There is a little arcade nearby where they have Puri Kura (photo booth) machines. They seem to have progressed rather since last time I used one! I wanted to have a go whilst we were away so I got everyone in the cubicle and took some pictures.

Wow, it's a complicated business. The one I'd used previously took your picture, then you could add some stars and sparkles and that, then it printed it 16 times on a little sheet of stickers. This machine took full length portraits - so you could show off your outfit I presume. The main feature of all the machines seemed to be 'beautifying', things like, smoothing your skin and giving you bigger eyes. Our pictures were hilarious, but I liked the big eyes. Mine tend to disappear when I smile. The options afterwards when we got to 'edit' them where endless and there was a time limit so I didn't have time to look up what the instructions said. Haha. They printed out as two sheets of craziness and there were even QR codes to download them too. Great fun.

Anyway, back out on the street, it reminded me a lot of Camden Town in London. There are lots of shops selling goth-y clothes and souvenirs. Also, tourists.

Then I saw Closet Child.
(Ignore this part if you aren't interested in Lolita fashion.)
Closet Child is one of the main secondhand shops for Lolita clothing. It was amazing. The clothing is in immaculate condition and so much cheaper than it would be new. I was fawning over a beautiful Baby the Stars Shine Bright winter coat that was about £100. Absolute bargain. Then I remembered I don't dress like that anymore and it wouldn't go with anything. I said a heartfelt goodbye and moved on. Le sigh. I'm kinda glad. I could have spent a fortune in there.
There are three floors, the first (upstairs) was all kinds of Lolita, the middle is goth/punk type brands.

-- As an aside, I saw Moi-même-moitié's Cathedral print in real life. The material is hideous! It was expensive too, even secondhand.--

The top floor is less flamboyant Jane Marple and mori style dresses. In fact there are a few shops selling that kind of fashion at Harajuku. Next up was bodyline. We didn't stay in there very long as it was very crowded. Possibly because they have a lot of costume stuffs and halloween was coming up and seemed to be pretty big.

I also went to La Foret and saw the little boutique areas for Alice and the Pirates, Angelic Pretty and a few others. I don't speak Japanese but I suspect that some of the stunningly dressed assistants might have been pointing out that I was too old/fat to fit in their clothes, but I just enjoyed it for my ex-lolita-self.

After I'd done looking at cute clothes, we stopped in at the Neon Genesis Evangelion shop and picked up a few bits. Evangelion is one of my Husband's favourite animes, so he was happy.

The weirdest thing I saw at Harajuku was Pet Paradise a shop just for dog clothes - as in clothes for real life little dogs. I'm not a big fan of dressing up animals, but it's a massive trend in Tokyo, I saw lots of people pushing their pups around in little carts and most of them had some kind of clothing on.

I didn't get a crepe though, so I'll just have to go back.