Friday, December 31, 2010
We had Boxing Day surprise this year as we took a 'leftovers' meal round to Gran's house. Obviously, we didn't have any actual leftovers from Christmas Day, so Mum had deliberately cooked extra on Christmas Eve so that we could still have our Boxing Day lunch. Thanks Mum!
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Christmas Eve...nearly done. Just a few things to finish off, but it felt very busy. I went to Mum's for dinner in the evening which was time to sit down and relax. And isn't this fairy pretty? Mindy made her and she adorns the top of Mum's tree. I do love handmade decorations.
Christmas Day itself was lovely. And who would have thought that I could fit so much on a single 6x6 page?
We went out for Christmas dinner and I'm glad we did. It made a lovely break from past years and meant that none of us were sitting there thinking about things that used to be. And of course, it meant that none of us had to prepare any food, get up early to cook it, or do the washing up afterwards. Afterwards we went back to Gran's to exchange our gifts. I couldn't decide if I was more excited to give or receive...my handmade goodies went down well and I received some lovely presents too. Follow that with some Christmas TV and it was pretty much the perfect day. Thanks guys :)
It's only on looking back at these pages that I realised I'd used two self-portraits in a row. The photo on this one is my current Facebook profile picture...sometimes looking at photos like this over a period of time can show just how much things have changed.
My scrapbooking tip for today? Use a dual-ended pen to write your text, using the thicker end for the key phrases. Makes the text look much more interesting than a simple paragraph, especially if you are writing short thoughts rather than a long story.
This is a less flattering portrait (no-one looks good on a convex surface) but this is the first year I've actually remembered to take a photo of my reflection on a bauble. Except, of course, I only have mini baubles on the tree this year so I had to hold one instead. If you'd like to see some better examples of bauble self-portraits, check out this Flickr group.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
The last few days before Christmas were a whirlwind of activity: shopping, singing, preparation and organisation. Suddenly it was far too difficult to keep up with JYC and post pictures online. The darkness didn't help as the days got shorter and shorter.
I did keep up with my pages, though, and I'm so pleased. My little book is now super-thick (three inches?!) and is a lovely record not only of what happened, but also of how I felt.
As I sit here in a post-Christmas haze, it all seems so long ago. I can hardly believe that I made that page above just last week. Everyone was so excited for Christmas, and now it's all over.
I had a lovely, lovely Christmas and really enjoyed it. It was quiet and relaxed and full of thoughtfulness and love. And I'm really glad I've been recording it all. I'll share the rest of my pages later.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
This one gets a post all of its own.
It is so easy to be thankful this year. 2009/10 has been without a doubt the hardest year of my life. I keep thinking 'this time last year I was'...and it's all negative. I was being told I had cancer. I was starting chemotherapy. I was in hospital. I was having major surgery. I didn't know what the future held except that it wasn't going to be very good for a long time.
I am so thankful to be writing this post from a place of health and contentment. I am so blessed with my family and friends and all their support. In between sickness and surgery, I have still managed to have some really good times this year and I am so thankful for everything. One little page doesn't say it enough.
Monday, December 20, 2010
For some reason the design of this page really pleases me...it feels very balanced, despite the larger amount of writing than normal. Like everything, this year presents are 'different'. We used to get up very early to open everything under the tree. These days we are all a little older and able to sleep in, so the early mornings are out! I am also Gran's Christmas fairy this year and have been buying her presents for everybody else.
Quickest page ever...and much lighter to balance out the previous page. It'll just be us five for Christmas, as the rest of the family is scattered far and wide. But there'll be lots of phonecalls I am sure.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Uploading these has taken a back seat over the last few days, but I am slowly catching up.I love, love, LOVE my pink tree. I think unconventional Christmas trees are great anyway (my main artificial tree is a pewter/silver colour) but this one just thrills me. Seriously. It's just about 2 feet high and is currently sitting beside my TV, with co-ordinating miniature baubles in glittery retro brights and white. I couldn't handle a full size tree this year but this is small enough to be manageable, and is just enough 'Christmas' to keep me happy.
This prompt was never going to be easy - thoughts of Christmas past. 2007 was the last year before everything changed, and of course being without Jonpa is the biggest change of all. But I know that he loved Christmas, and would want us to be happy. It won't be the same without him, but it will be ok.
On 13th December, the prompt for Christmas music coincided nicely with the MHCC Christmas concert. Carol services and nativity plays used to be such a big part of my Christmas, but since I stopped going to church I haven't had anything like that in my life. Choir has helped me re-discover my love of Christmas music and really makes the season special.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
In the meantime...
shop. I haven't done much crochet for a while so it's been good to get yarn-happy again. He isn't available online, but please email me if you are interested - £9.99 plus postage. We can work something out :)
I am being pretty good at keeping up with JYC but my photography skills deserted me this morning so all I have is some blurry pictures. I'll try again tomorrow. There's always tomorrow, right?
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Traditions. Well. I have some wonderful memories of Christmases in the past (that's another page) but right now it doesn't feel like I have any traditions. Things change, families change, people get older. I don't do nativity services any more, or have a Christmas stocking, and we tend to go out for Christmas dinner rather than cook at home. But it's ok. Just because it's different doesn't mean I don't like it. Each Christmas is special.
A quick page to catch up here. I'm using up wrapping paper from previous Christmases, but really I suppose I ought to have some presents ready to wrap by now! And a little memory from last year...Mum bringing my presents and wrapping paper to the hospital so that I could wrap them for everyone. I'd had major surgery the night before and it was HARD WORK. Despite all the stress, this year is so much easier.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
JYC pages are a few days behind but nothing an evening's crafting won't fix. 6th December was all about the memories. Good and bad. Happy and sad. I'm quite glad this is a hidden journalling page because I really just poured it out on the page. Let it out and let it go.
I also decided to stop taking photos of my pages against a white background because there's no sense of scale. This way at least you get an idea of the size.
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Hanging on in there...just a couple of days behind.
Worrying about moving house.
Hating agents who don't return my calls.
Stressing about my return to work.
Helping mum and mindy as much as possible.
Singing as much as I can, in preparation for our concert next week.
Trying to keep on top of it all.
It feels like nothing is easy. I cannot remember the last time life was simple and uncomplicated and fun. There is always something in the way.
Hopefully this is just one am-worry-talk. Hopefully in the morning things will look better. Add that to the list above - hoping.
Monday, December 06, 2010
I'm off to view a couple of houses now. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
Sunday, December 05, 2010
I found myself walking up the road with a smile on my face just because this time, I was fit and healthy and able.
My page for 3rd December should have been about Christmas cards, and indeed on the outside it is. But hidden in the envelope is some journalling that explores how I feel about my house move, about returning to work next week, my surgery in January and how I am going to cope. When I wrote it I definitely felt overwhelmed and quite panicky, and I still do to some extent. But I've had some really good support from family, friends and internet forums, and there is a glimmer of hope. I might be able to do this after all.
Thursday, December 02, 2010
All my date tags follow a similar format: scalloped circle, ribbon, Christmas tree, contrasting circle, silver star and a number from one of my many half-used sets of alphabets. This one was a white foam number that looked a bit dingy, so I used some Tim Holtz crackle paint to liven it up a bit.
So what is my manifesto for this year, you may ask? Shimelle has designed a lovely one which you can download here, but I really wanted something more personal that reflects what I've been through and what I hope for this Christmas.
RELAX and remember there is no pressure to do anything.
PEOPLE I LOVE are more important than anything else. Spend time with them.
Know that MEMORIES can be bad as well as good. That's ok.
But remember, don't stress. Be HAPPY for everything I have. Celebrate and enjoy.
See you tomorrow for day two!
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
What happened to November? It seems to have flown by and now all of a sudden it's December. Which means Christmas, and this class happens all over again.
My first attempt at Journal Your Christmas was 2007, when I filled an album with fun and happiness. JYC was a celebration of life, love and family. 2008's journal has just six pages in it as I struggled with a broken heart and losing my grandad. And 2009 didn't even happen, because I was in hospital all over Christmas as I fought a life-threatening illness.
I am due some joy, don't you think?
This year, JYC is very much about taking back Christmas. Celebrating the people and things that are important to me. Celebrating the happy times in the past, acknowledging the bad, and preparing myself to move on. Not just for a new year, but a whole new life.
I've done enough long-term scrapbook projects to know how I like to work. My album is covered, my pages are cut, my patterned paper is trimmed to size (although it will get chopped again as I design each page) and the picture above shows the date tags I've already made. But as ever - no promises, no pressure!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
When I was told I was going to need chemotherapy, my first thought was "but I'll lose my hair".
Mindy is the knitter in the family and she immediately started making me some great hats. I have a slouchy hat, a beanie hat, and the cutest multicoloured hat with ear flaps.
As it turned out, the chemotherapy didn't make me lose my hair. But I have discovered that I love hats and it is super-thrilling to be able to make my own now that I know how to crochet.
This one nearly wasn't such a happy ending. I started it about four times and kept going wrong. In the end I adapted the pattern, changed my hook size, persevered and managed to finish it. Then I hated it. It didn't look like the original pattern and I was so disappointed. I nearly undid the whole thing, but fortunately realised that this was probably because it was late at night and I had crochet fatigue. I decided to leave it until the morning, and I'm so glad I did - now I love it! It's warm and snuggly and I love the colour. I've been wearing it almost constantly and have had loads of compliments.
Mindy is also responsible for introducing me to ravelry. Another brilliant internet resource, another great way to waste time. I especially love their projects feature which lets me show off all the details of this hat.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
I am endlessly, eternally grateful to my family: for letting me stay with them, for looking after me, for making me cups of tea, for putting up with my stuff all over the place, for coming back to my house to feed my cat when I couldn't.
But it is such a wonderful feeling to be back in my own home.
I have always liked this house, but lately it has been making me smile every time I come through the door. I walk into my craft room (studio, I mean) and my heart lifts a little bit. I sit at my desk surrounded by paper, paint and glue, and I get a warm fuzzy feeling that makes me giggle. I work at the computer and I am joined by my boy who is so pleased to have me back.
I am living my life again. And it is so very good to be home.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
I can't even bear to post the full photo. I don't want my face associated with this. It balances on the top of my head like a varigated fungus, lumpy and misshapen and totally the wrong size.
Monday, November 08, 2010
Thankful for friends who make me smile.
Thankful for a warm house and waterproof wellies.
Thankful for creativity and time to use it.
Thankful for the Willow Foundation.
Thankful for good health. More than ever.
Saturday, November 06, 2010
It's been a funny few days, and I've been in a funny mood. That's funny-peculiar, not funny-hah-hah. I had a hospital appointment on Friday that in the scheme of things was no big deal, but for some reason it became a massive emotional obstacle. I got through it in the end by the best tactic possible: new shoes. I bribed myself with a lovely pair of burgundy stilettos. I remember when I was a kid I used to get a toy when I had to go to the dentist - this was just the grownup version of that.
The rest of my life feels much like my craft desk - lots of things in various stages of completion. Moving back to my own house, but I'm not quite there yet. Starting to think about returning to work, but I'm not sure when. Preparing for a bit more surgery, but I haven't had an appointment with the surgeon yet. The mental fug that has been around me since chemo isn't helping, I feel like I'm trying to think through a cloud a lot of the time. For goodness' sake, if you need me to do something, you'll have to keep reminding me. I keep forgetting things, losing things and generally being dopey. It's all very funny. That's funny-peculiar, not funny-hah-hah.
P.S. 'Funny' is one of those words that gets weirder to look at the more you type it. I don't think I can ever use it again!
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
I love autumn. The colours are beautiful, the air feels fresh, and it's the season of my birthday. What more could I ask for?
I've spent the last four days in beautiful Gloucestershire with Mindy. Nothing fancy or complicated, just four days away from all the stress and worries of home. Some shopping, some sightseeing. Lots of coffee and cake. Some humour (no, vegetarians don't eat bacon), some assertiveness (if I say this meal is too spicy, then it is, ok?) and some terrifying moments (did you know you can fit a car through the gap in the pedestrian barrier in the Ikea car park? Well you can.)
One of the best things about the weekend was the number of independent shops, artists and craftspeople that we found. Cheltenham was hosting By Local, a brilliant collection of art and craft from local people, occupying a shop that would otherwise be empty. We spent ages in there admiring the work, and couldn't leave without a souvenir or two. In Cirencester we found M.A.D.E., which I think might just be the prettiest shop in the world. It's thrilling to see somewhere so packed with handmade goodies. In fact, Cirencester was a lovely town altogether. Beautiful old buildings, some lovely cafes, independent retailers...and not a Primark in sight.
I took my sketchbook away with me and I didn't draw a thing. Instead of working on completing projects I have come back feeling inspired with new ideas, colours and textures. The previously mentioned trip to Ikea has brought me some new storage and I finally feel totally comfortable in my craft room. Maybe I should start calling it a studio now? I have so many ideas flying around now that I can't wait to get started on making some of them a reality. Autumn might be a season of endings, as the year draws to a close and nature packs itself away, but I feel like it's the start of something big.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Towards the end of September I stopped making my pages every day, but I made notes of what I wanted to remember. Finally, over this weekend I managed to find time and energy to put those notes into my journal. Consider me finished.
my family owns a craft shop. Some days when I am bored at home I go and sit behind the counter to keep them company. If I'm lucky I get to press buttons on the till.
in my Flickr gallery.
Friday, October 22, 2010
First up: people who tell me I 'look well'. The problem with this is that I hear it, and underneath it I hear "so you can't possibly have been as ill as you say". I know that probably no-one means it like that. I know that actually, it doesn't matter what most people think because the people who matter know how ill I was. But seriously, it bugs the hell out of me. If I look well, it's probably down to the layers of makeup I'm wearing. Just say it's nice to see me, ok?
Secondly: people who assume that because I've finished treatment I'm all better now. Well. Obviously I am better than I was. I am not being sick, I am not having painful treatment, I am not recovering from major surgery. However. I am still tired most of the time. I am still weak and can't lift/carry heavy things. I have little energy and zero stamina. I still have to think about what I eat and how it will affect me. I am still dealing with things psychologically and it's more complicated than you will ever understand. So I am better than I was, but that's not the same as being completely well again.
Unfortunately, I seem to have become one of the second group myself. In my excitement about feeling better, I forgot that better is different from well. The panic that I used to feel before chemo: (I have to get everything done before I feel too ill to move) has gone into total overdrive:(I have cheated death and now I have to make the most of absolutely every minute). I feel like I should be going to every event, reading every book, visiting every person, experiencing everything as powerfully as possible. I am making endless lists for today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. When I found myself trying to draft a life plan for the next 20 years, I realised maybe it was time to STOP.
In four days, it's my 27th birthday. One week from that will be the first anniversary of my diagnosis. I think this is probably a good time to slow myself down and do a little bit of reflecting before I carry on. I don't need to panic. I don't need to rush into anything. After all, I've been given the best present of all: more time.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
this lovely website and got started.
I guess when you are experimenting, you have to be prepared for things to turn out differently from what you expected...although these were nice, there is definitely some room for improvement. They didn't really turn out red enough for my liking - must add more food colouring. And I had the same problem as a couple of commenters on the original blog - the cakes were much more dense than my usual cupcakes. These were 'ok', not 'great'. The smaller cupcakes were nicer as they had a better cake-to-frosting ratio. I will try them again at some point, if only just to try and make the corrections and get them 'perfect'.
150g (5oz) butter, softened
150g (5oz) caster sugar
150g (5oz) self-raising flour
3 medium eggs
2 tablespoons milk
Finely zested rind of 1 lemon (I forgot this bit!)
Juice of 1 lemon
12-hole cake tray, lined with paper cases
Set the oven to Gas Mark 5 or 190C.
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and beat until smooth. (You could use the creaming method but I don't always bother.)
Divide the mixture between the paper cases and bake in the centre of the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until they have risen and are just firm to the touch in the centre.
Remove cakes from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Brush the tops with lemon juice.
3 large egg whites
250g (8oz) caster sugar
Pinch of salt
Tip the egg whites into a bowl and add the sugar and salt. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until the sugar dissolves completely.
Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk the mixture (you'll need an electric mixer of some description, this takes FOREVER)until it bcomes a thick meringue.
Spread a little lemon curd over the top of each cake.
Fill a piping bag with the meringue mixture, and pipe spikes over the top of each cake.
Place the cakes on a baking tray and return to the oven for about 5-7 minutes, or until the meringue is just starting to turn golden. Remove the cakes from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.
It was definitely hard work doing two lots of cakes at once, and I won't deny that it was a bit disappointing when they didn't turn out quite as perfect as I'd hoped. BUT - they were still good, and everyone enjoyed them. I think maybe the lesson in this one might be not to push myself so hard.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
I used to have a copy of it on my bedroom door. It was the first thing I thought of when I took this photo yesterday:
Sunset over Newport and the sky looked like it was on fire. This photo is almost SOOC, but I will admit to bumping up the colours a little bit. Who could resist?
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Sometimes I don't blog because I don't have anything to talk about. Sometimes I don't blog because there is altogther TOO MUCH to write. Blogging is not my therapy, I have a proper journal for that. I read a lot of other blogs, about all kinds of things, and I'm always amazed at people's level of sharing. Do I want to read about their trip to the supermarket? Probably not. Do I want to see pretty pictures of their latest craft project? Undoubtedly.
So, because I rarely read blog posts that are plain text, I sort of feel an obligation to make sure my posts always have a picture. And usually, my posts are about the picture which makes a whole lot more sense.
Which is the long and winding way of saying: I've been baking again, and these are whoopie pies. I'm always a late adopter (I still don't have an iPhone) and this is no exception - apparently the craze for these started at the beginning of the year? Still, it's never too late. It is if you wanted one of these, though - we ate them all. Sorry.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
Everyone wants their mum when they feel ill. There's nothing like it - someone who knows exactly how to look after you, who can find just the right thing to say, who can make you feel better with just a hug.
I am fortunate beyond words that I have had my mum beside me, right from the minute I was diagnosed. I have other people too - my family might be small but it's very supportive - but there is something particularly special about being looked after by mum.
Mum works harder than anyone else I know, and it's all for other people. She looks after me, and my gran, and the rest of the family, and she runs a retail business with all the commitments that entails. She can't ask for time off, or delegate her work to others. She doesn't broadcast her worries, she just gets on with it. I am so proud of her for what she does, and the way she does it.
Thanks Mum. I couldn't have done it without you.