Thursday, February 23, 2012

New Interests and Some Experimenting

Here are six words I never thought I’d write with any degree of conviction:

I think I’m becoming a gardener.

Not a particularly knowledgeable or proficient one, but a gardener nonetheless.

I say this because a few weeks ago I walked out of my local nursery, a bag of pea straw mulch under each arm, and felt as happy and satisfied-with-life as if I’d just bought a pair of shoes.

It’s funny; growing up, gardening was the Ultimate Chore, but now it’s become a whole new way to be creative. And given our new block didn’t have a single tree, let alone plant, when we moved in, it really does seem like a wonderful blank canvas.

It’s been exciting to see the kids start to appreciate it too. While I don’t think they’re enormous fans of weeding (but then, who is?), they’ve noticed the trees we’ve planted sprouting, and point out new buds and growth with excitement. It’s lovely to see.

All three have chosen and planted a tree just for them. (Well, two have, one’s still deciding). Week Eight’s layout is on one of them:

This layout had a couple of starting inspiration points. The first was this picture of kids’ wallpaper that I tore out of a magazine a few years ago (I think it’s by Catherine Martin, but I didn’t write it down at the time.):

 Sadly, I wasn’t able to convince any of my kids that they loved it enough to have it in their new room, so it’s been sitting in the ideas file ever since. I did try to draw some silhouette figures for my page, but wasn’t happy with any of them. Besides, they got in the way of the photos.

The second spark off point was a book I read last week on twelve incredibly talented art quilters. This group got together online and each took a turn at choosing a theme that they’d then all interpret as a 12” x 12” mini quilt. The results were phenomenal; so creative and clever. (There’s a website – might be Twelveby12, but don’t quote me)  I really loved that it wasn’t a competition, but rather a challenge in which everyone’s very different styles were celebrated and appreciated. Sounds like a pretty good idea for a scrapbooking group, actually!

There were a couple of these quilts that looked like they’d been painted, only using thread rather than paint. Thought I’d give it a bash on my tree here. I drew a tree (and grass) then cut it out and stuck some paper behind it. Then I used different machine stitches and coloured cottons and played till it looked finished. I was umming and ahhing as to whether to stitch some extra thinner branches and twigs over the cream paper to fill it out a bit, but when I started to sketch it out in pencil it all looked a bit fussy, so I stopped. It was a fun technique to play with though, and I think I’ll have to try it again sometime soon.

Have a wonderful week :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Food For Thought

Last week I was browsing in my local book store (fancy that), and picked up a brunch cookbook to flick through. (I love looking at cookbooks – and this shop’s full of them. Just found the sublime Frenchwomen Don’t Get Fat Cookbook and a fabulous one on homemade icecream. Insert drooling sigh of delight here.) The first page I opened to proudly displayed the recipe for – I kid you not – “Baked Beans on Toast”. Returned book to pile immediately. Honestly…

It did make me giggle a bit though, so I messaged a friend who I knew would also see the funny side of it. That set off a flurry of messages, all suggesting similarly complicated dishes. Fairy bread…boiled eggs…jam sandwiches…carrot sticks…We decided if ever we wanted to make a quick buck, we’d publish “Cookery For The Morbidly Unculinary”. Perhaps we could market it to students… ;)

I mention this not only because I got a laugh out of it, but also because frankly it's a neat little segue into Week 7’s food-themed layout:

Putting this together reminded me of something I really love about scrapbooking – it’s so endlessly accommodating and versatile. One week you can be celebrating a Nobel Prize winner, the next, recording a funny little family moment like this. From the deeply significant to the downright silly, and everything in between – which, when you think about it, is a pretty apt reflection of life itself, huh?

Have a wonderful week :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Bit of Creative Play

Hello again!

I took a break this week from scrapping family and kids, and instead pulled out my own scrapbook/art journal/miscellaneous dumping ground album and started playing. The first page I’d actually begun a couple of weeks ago, but had put aside, what with the busyness of school beginning + Mike’s birthday + starting part-time work. (I’d forgotten the sheer bliss of pulling on tracky pants after a day of work :) ) But a child-free day or two gave me the chance to get down and play. Here ‘tis:

This page came about after reading “The Voice of Hope”, by Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese pro-democracy leader and Nobel Prize winner. (Sorry, I still don’t know how to do links. Google her - she’s astonishing and will make you proud to be female. Or wish you were ;) ) I was so struck by her passion, intelligence, gentleness, humour and wisdom, that I felt prompted to put together a visual reminder for myself of something she wrote that really resonated with me:

            “Fearlessness may be a gift, but perhaps more precious is the courage acquired through endeavour, courage that comes from cultivating the habit of refusing to let fear dictate one’s actions.”

The reason I love this so much is that it makes living fearlessly possible for anyone. It’s easy to look at someone like her and marvel, assuming she’s just somehow got it all together naturally, or that it all comes easily to her. Not a bit! She strips away the mystique – and the excuses – and chalks it up to choice. Fearlessness is a choice, or better yet, a lifestyle of daily choices. As a naturally fairly timid person, I find that inspiring! After all, if she, with the very real threat of arrest, imprisonment, torture and oppression can choose to live fearlessly, so can we all. Heady stuff.

The second page is also related to Aung San Suu Kyi’s book – that, and the book I read prior to it, Friedrich Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil. You’d be hard pressed to find two more different outlooks on life! Interestingly though, they both touched on the theme of ‘greatness’, with (unsurprisingly) very different views. I thought I’d have a go at representing it visually, and came up with this:

I started off trying to show contrast with colour, but it was just too busy – especially with so much text. So I played around for a bit, and found that keeping the format similar for both halves actually emphasised the contrast in theme and pictures; less obviously, perhaps, but I thought more effectively overall. It’s been ages since I tried to sketch anything, so I felt pretty rusty. I did have trouble getting the proportions right, so eventually, when it occurred to me this was meant to be fun, not tear-inducing, I just traced the outer outline. (Note to self: next time use tracing paper, not vellum) I filled in the detail and shading though, so I think it still counts as my work…

This was fun – and a good reminder to make time to play more often!

Have a wonderful week :)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Few of My Favourite Things

It’s been a pretty momentous week in my little corner of the world; all three kids started back at school on Tuesday, (a whole new era has begun…) and our youngest had his sixth birthday yesterday. He wanted an “excavator” cake, but, and I quote, “not one you look down on, one with the arm going up into the air – like a REAL one has.” I don’t mind a cakely challenge, so after a bit of Googling, came up with the pastiche below:

He was satisfied, but did want to know where the digger’s bucket was. I told him it was hidden under the “dirt” (i.e. leftover cake offcuts), and that in any case, you never saw them on birthday cake excavators, only real ones, which he accepted happily. Evidently six is still young enough not to question the wisdom of Mum ;)

On to Layout Five. Since I always get a wee bit nostalgic around birthdays, Mike’s the subject of this one:

I went thoroughly self-indulgent on this one, and stuck with my scrapbooking absolute favourites: it’s all about the photo, it keeps to neutrals, embellishments are minimal, and text is used as a design element.

I think if the Scrapbooking Gods suddenly decreed, “thou must stick to one style only”, I’d be satisfied working like this all the time. Well, maybe with just the occasional foray into Embellishment Land....

Have a wonderful week :)