Sunday, 28 February 2016

Books: The Snow Child

I found The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey in one of the charity shops along my road, in the cheap student/Polish area of Southampton. The cover just beckoned me, with its snowy fairytale silhouettes on a dark blue background.

The Snow Child book, showing white silhouettes of a girl and a fox on a dark blue background.

Friday, 26 February 2016

A Spot of Blacksmithing

This post is more of a short and sweet 'Look what I made!' than anything else. You see that vicious looking hooked thing below? I made that with steel and fire and brute force. Well, maybe that's not completely truthful. My brother helped me to do it last week. He's training to be a blacksmith and he's set up a forge in the garden which is made out of a metal bin and a lot of coal and a air bed pump. 

It's a hook that can be hung over the tops of doors, for people like me who aren't allowed to drill holes in their walls. Could also be one half of a grappling hook, or a weapon for the impending zombie apocalypse.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

A Christmas Card in February

I went 'home-home' last week to visit my mum and brother, seeing as I had a bit of free time. I wouldn't say I regretted it, but it became apparent very quickly to me that I've outgrown the house of my parents. There was just something weird about it, I felt out of place. Maybe more on that in a later blog post, though.

Unbeknownst to me, we'd been booked in for dinner with the grandparents I haven't seen in a few years. My mum asked if I'd got them a Christmas card or present and said that she hadn't either so I'd have to make one. Oh and by the way we're leaving in an hour so I'll have to make it quick. Surely it reaches a point (like February) when you can just cut your losses and forget about Christmas cards, but she was quite insistent.

I made myself a mug of tea, grumbled to myself a bit, put on the tv, and sat down with all the craft supplies the house could offer. I miss my alphabet stamps already. *sad face*

Luckily for me, I found this pair of crimping scissors and set of rubber stamps in the cupboard that I never knew we had. I have no idea where they came from, and they needed a good wash beforehand.

The ink pad was all dried up and I didn't have my craft supplies with me so I experimented with using felt tip pens instead. I found one that took longer than the others to dry which was perfect. I had to work quickly to cover and stamp the thing before the ink dried and went patchy but the poinsettia stamp looked really pretty like that, so I decided to use that one on my card.

Using some shiny gold paper as the main background, I made a really simple Christmas card. Using the snowflake stamp multiple times on some blue paper, and the poinsettia stamp on a bit of crimped ivory card, I layered them at slightly jaunty angles. Unfortunately the poinsettia stamp didn't come out as nicely as I wanted in the final version because I'd practised on a different type of paper. I also used the snowflake stamp again with a blue felt tip to make a matching envelope.

Also, these matching bookmarks! Made with the same materials as the card with the addition of a hole punch and some ribbon. They were starting to curl up quite badly so I sandwiched them between some heavy books as they dried. I know that home-made paper bookmarks are something you usually get little children to make and give to people, but I don't see why they can't be refined a little for a more mature audience. I was really out of ideas and time, too.

And there we have it! A 30-minute(ish) solution to a family argument. (With my mum, not my grandparents. They wouldn't have minded either way. It's sometimes just easier to give in to what people want, though.) The visit itself went surprisingly well, it was nice to catch up. My grandma also makes amazing roast potatoes, and that made everything worth it.

Merry February!

Friday, 19 February 2016

Some Thoughts On Depression

This may be a little dark, I wrote it to try and explore my thoughts on a particularly bad day.

I still don't really know what depression is. I mean, I know what it is but I just don't know how or why it managed to creep up on me. I thought I was just lazy, initially. When my boyfriend left for work in the morning I'd just lay in bed, staring blankly at the ceiling. It felt like I was punishing myself for not wanting to get up and do anything, by refusing to let myself enjoy not doing anything. I'd let myself get stuck in the guilty cycle of the procrastinator- not being able to let go of the thing you should be doing so your procrastination becomes guilty and impossible to enjoy.  I used to be able to drag myself out of that at the last minute and get my work done. It was always sloppy and I'd resent myself for not living up to my potential, but at least it'd be done and I could breathe for a little while. And then, one day, I started to let the deadlines come and go. I knew I probably wouldn't hand assignments in so I stopped picking them up. I let my record pick up zero after zero, and still I felt like it didn't matter. Who would notice? It's not like a friendly school teacher was going to pull me aside and say "I noticed you haven't been doing your work lately, is everything alright at home? Do you need some help?" And that's the thing, it was only me that was responsible for my failure.

I just wanted desperately for someone to see through my facade, to see that I did care deep down. I still don't know if anything would have pulled me out of that spiral of indifference, but it would involve people, I know that much. I feel like if someone, anyone, had looked me right in the eye and asked "Are you okay? You've not been yourself recently" then I would have broken down completely. I would have fallen to the floor and wailed as if everyone most important to me had died. Because I had lost a part of myself. I'd lost the quiet, geeky girl who loved to learn. She wanted to invent something important, to make the world a better place. Instead she'd found that physics was just an unfeeling string of numbers, and she herself was just an ID number in a computer system, only given value by how high her own numbers were. Her teachers and her parents had let her believe that she could do anything she wanted, that she was capable of anything.

The academic slump when you realise that compared to everyone around you're just mediocre really hurts. Maybe I just took it harder than most? I think I'd let it become too much a part of who I was. Maybe I'll find that lost girl some day, when I've sifted through my box of thoughts and pieced myself together again.

I think I'd better stop writing for now.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

My New Sewing Machine

For Christmas, I got my very own sewing machine. I feel like this is another little step in my quest to become a self-sufficient adult. When I asked for one I was expecting a little cheap portable thing, but instead I got this, 'The Beast'. I don't know much about sewing machines but I know that Singer is a good brand and it was probably embarrassingly expensive.

I intend to make very good use of it and am quite excited to start, although I have no table to use it on. I shall hunch over it on the floor and probably operate the foot pedal using one knee. Ah, the joys of student housing.

'The Beast.' I should think of a more friendly name for her. Any ideas?

Friday, 12 February 2016

You're Gorgeous

So, that day is coming around the corner again. Having not been much of a Valentine's person in the past, this year I finally get what the fuss was about. Other people can be pretty nice sometimes. Not most of them, of course, just a few. (If you're a people person then I envy you, but I've most likely got a touch of Asperger's or something else that makes me shy of talking to people.)

I adore my new alphabet stamps and, after having a few Valentine's card ideas, I settled on this design so I could use them. The main 'you're gorgeous' writing in the middle is just cut out of flowery paper. You could replicate this with any song lyrics that need a bit of emphasis for a personal touch.

Not heard the song? Here you go! Aside from some pretty questionable lyrics, it's a sweet sentiment.

'Because you're gorgeous, I'd do anything for you' card using stamps.
The colours look a bit strange here, but you get the idea.

I like how it's quite simple, and also not too soppy. It's something that we say to each other a lot, the personal touch is especially nice for occasions like this. I'll also let you in on a little secret: the edge is cut so close to the words because I managed to smear ink everywhere. Top tip- wait before ink is dry before putting your hand on it.

My plan for this Sunday is just a really chilled day together. I'm going to make ginger biscuits, we'll make a pillow fort on the floor and play on the game cube in our underwear all day. We will also be seeing Deadpool at the cinema if the crowds don't scare us away.

I hope you have a good weekend. And you're gorgeous, too!

Saturday, 6 February 2016

New Stamps!

eBay is the best. I picked up this set of alphabet stamps in a little wooden box for a mere £4.39, and I am going to use them for everything. They'll give my cards a slightly more professional touch and I have to say they're pretty fun to use. I also picked up a cutting mat and a craft knife so I can be a lot more precise when creating stuff to use on cards.

Set of stamps in a wooden box and pigment inks.

One thing I noticed when using the stamps is that it was very easy to get ink on the edges of the rubber pads and for that to touch the paper. You can see what I mean from the photo below on the left of the paper. Unless you're careful when dabbing the stamps on the pad you end up with an ugly ink outline on each letter. To stop this happening I used the craft knife to carefully slice off the edges of each stamp. This fixed the problem and meant I didn't have to worry too much about how hard I was pressing down when stamping.

Close-up of letter 'A' with stamping examples.

I've got a few uses for these new stamps coming up, including a Valentine's day card that I can show you next week.

Happy stamping!

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Eggy Bread & Cards for Grannies

Crack an egg on a plate, scraggle it with a fork, soak it all up with some bread, season, and then fry it. You now have eggy bread, one of the best dishes ever invented (in my humble opinion.) I treated myself this morning by topping it with honey and blueberries, and what a glorious morning it was.

And now onto the card of the week:

Hilda is a tiny, softly-spoken, lovely old lady that we took out for a birthday lunch at the weekend. She's not technically my grandma, but she's like one. She's rather old-fashioned and always wears purple so this is a card for her birthday that reflects that. The flowers were cut out of a ragged Reader's Digest guide and the lettering is outlined in purple Sharpie. The trim is decorative sticky lace tape that can be found for pennies on eBay.

I don't know about you, but when I go into a shop to buy a card I end up staring at the selection for ages. The cards are either too clich├ęd or too pink or trying too hard to be funny. Don't get me started on finding cards for men either. I love giving home-made cards to people. They really don't take much time to make and make the other person feel that much more special, and save money too! 

Blueberries and birthdays,

Monday, 1 February 2016

Why Do Tigers Wear Stripes?

Because they don't want to be spotted!

Sometimes my favourite thing to do is curl up with a cup of tea and read a book, or work on a cross-stitch project. This is a little counted cross-stitch I've been working on that was a gift from Christmas. I like to do the black layer first as it's good for reference and it's much easier to get on with cross-stitch when you can actually see the progress you're making. This tiger cub has over 10 different shades of orange so it might become a bit of a grind later on, but he is very cute.

The black layer of a cross-stitch showing a tiger cub sleeping on his mother's tail.

Tigers and tea-drinking,