Friday, 16 July 2010

Tidying Up, Catching Up with LYP! And Teacher Gifts too...

Wow, I wonder if Life will ever slow down enough for me to catch my breath! It's soooo busy here just now.  This week we've had a visit from my Mother-in-Law, from Saturday to Wednesday... 
D took this with his mobile phone, at a local Village Show on Sunday.  MIL is the little one on the right!

We have also had various appointments at osteopaths, dentists etc... and J's end-of-term Celebration Assembly at school yesterday. 

In between, my friend D. has been helping me to knock this place into shape. She has boundless energy and really enjoys a good springclean and tidy up... so she has taken me in hand and sorted out the mess, which I have been trying to organise for months.  My problem is that I run out of steam very quickly and a job which seems easy at the start, suddenly becomes impossible to complete and is left half-done. This is so frustrating and I have hated having such a messy, untidy and (in places) dirty house.  D. has now helped me to tidy and clean the kitchen, sitting room, hallway, dining room and, today, the junk-heap that we referred to as the "Utility Room", but was really just a big mess, with a washing machine and dryer in the corner! 

That was, until today.  Wish I had thought to take "before" and "after" shots for you... just believe that it was a huge mess this morning, but by the time D. had finished, it was a picture of laundry perfection!  All my remaining craft stuff (this used to be my workroom before we got the extension done) is now upstairs in a little heap in the corner of my new studio room. I need to finish the shelves in here, then have a "project" to organise all my stuff.   D. put things in the dining room, in little heaps; I went through the heaps and sorted out what was "keep" and what was "throw away".  There were 2 large bags full of recycling when we'd finished, plus a few bits in the normal bin too. I think about half the stuff she pulled off the desk area was thrown away! 

I had been wanting to do this for months, so it's such a relief to have it done and sorted out.  The shelves, which had just become a dumping place for junk, are now populated with bits & pieces from the kitchen, which I don't use often, but need to keep (like cake decorating stuff, a sandwich toaster, a spare coffee jug, vases - you know the type of stuff, we all have it!).

So, despite a state of minor exhaustion, I'm very relieved and happy this evening. It was hard work, but definitely worth it.  D. is a fabulous friend and deserving of a special present, I can tell you!  She won't allow me to pay her for the work she does; we have an "arrangement", where I am buying stuff she would like, but can't afford - things for her home, the odd nice treat from the supermarket, that kind of thing.. Still, if I had to pay someone for the time she has spent helping me over the past month, I would need a job!  I am very grateful for a wonderful friend (even if she does enjoy herself while she's tidying up and cleaning!!).

* * *

So, visitors, appointments and cleaning aside... I have been reading the prompts for Shimelle's Love Your Pages course.  Haven't had a lot of time to keep up with them, but yesterday I got my camera out and had a go at a few pictures, with Prompts 7 & 8 in mind.  I played with settings on my camera, to explore Depth of Field and Exposure a little bit.

I only have a point-and-shoot; I didn't have a lot of time  and it was a wet day; consequently the photos are not wonderful, but it's a starting point and I can build from there.

Prompt 7 - Depth of Field shots

A general shot of the rainy day view from my window... Auto Setting

I switched on the Macro function and set the camera to "Baby" setting (nice natural colours).
I think this photo of raindrops on the window pane has a great blurry background. I like the contrast.

This was taken with the Landscape setting switched on. The raindrops are now blurry and the background is in focus. 
Total contrast with the previous photo! 

For this, I pointed the camera at that elusive little patch of blue that was in the sky, set it back to Baby setting and took the photo. I really like this one - the raindrops are clear enough to be obvious, but the lovely blue and white of the sky is just fab.
If you look very closely, you might be able to pick out a very small silhouette of a bird against the clouds, towards the bottom of the photo.

Prompt 8 - Exposure

Not really much work done on Exposure with these shots.  I just faffed about with the pre-set functions a bit. 

This was the Auto setting... Rather dark and not very impressive, despite that nice bit of blue sky...

This worked a bit better. It was taken with the Landscape setting - much better light.

I really need to read the manual and work out how to get more from the exposure functions. I think there's a way to override the presets, to some extent, but I don't know how to do it.  So far, I've just learned that the "Baby" setting produces nice, true colours, especially for pastels and for shots taken indoors.  Auto setting is rather feeble, except outside in good daylight. Portrait setting is okay, but the colours often need tweaking.  Landscape does produce good colours and focus for stuff that's further away (and even just across the room/garden).
Flash is rubbish. Always.

So, I'm kind-of learning stuff... but I do need to spend some more time on this to get any real benefit from it.  At least the prompts are making me think about what I'm doing and I've got a few fun ideas from them too - like putting the camera on the ground etc.

I want to try some of the wonderful scrapping ideas too.  The sketches are really good - and I don't usually bother with scrap sketches!

* * *

Finally, the thing that has filled up my remaining time - Teacher Presents.

J. wanted a number of presents for his teachers. I was "commissioned" to produce some books, so this is what I have made so far (you can click on the small photos, to see bigger versions):

A Moroccan-style covered notebook, for the Science Teacher (paper by Basic Grey from their "Marrakesh" range). With an elastic fastening, fixed at the back with an eyelet.

A fun orange-inspired notebook for the German and French teacher (more Basic Grey paper - "Ambrosia"). This is fastened with a ribbon, fixed at the front by a button and brad.

An A4 size notebook, with pink-lined pages decorated with flowers. The binding is Japanese stab-stitch, with eyelets to decorate the holes on the covers.  The covering paper is a lovely blossom-printed, thick quality gift-wrap that I found.  This is for J's English teacher. I think she'll love it.

A pocket-sketchbook, filled with off-cuts of the lovely print-making paper I used for the silk-covered wedding book last week.  This is for J's Art and Ceramics teacher. It's covered in turquoise lokta paper, with a coptic-style binding (only 3 threads though, so it's not a "proper" coptic binding - they have an even number of threads). 

The design on the cover is a lino-cut by J. printed onto canvas fabric and glued to the front of the book.  There is an elastic strap to fasten the book, which slips on and off - it's fixed together with a metal grip, like those hair-band things.  J. took this into school and gave it to his teacher today, but she didn't open it when he was there - so we don't know if she liked it. I think she would though... useful for her holidays and just the right size to carry about with her.

Those are what I have made so far.  We already had a present for J's Form Teacher, which is a set of cute little lanterns, designed to hold tea-lights, which fix together, one under another, with little chains that hang underneath them.  They are painted cream colour and look very pretty.  I'm tempted to add another covered notebook though... And there is at least one other book required, for the Maths teacher, so I still have work to do!

Off to London tomorrow, to meet up with some friends for a picnic.  Hopefully I'll remember my camera and will take some decent photos.

Have a good weekend everyone!


  1. Lizzie...I can't believe how busy you've been....and how much you've got done!!!
    I love the second photo of the raindrops.

  2. Lizzie you have been one busy lady - would D like to come over to Australia for a spot of decluttering here? Of course, you would need to escort her!

    I love all of the books you have made for J's teachers - they will be thrilled!

    Have a lovely time in London - it sounds so exotic here that you are popping in to London for the day. Takes plenty of photos won't you :-)

  3. Love what you did with your point & shoot creative controls. And those notebooks are fab!

  4. I love love love the rain photos!

  5. Clever rain photos. I love the teachers' books - might steal hat idea for \christmas, as i've already made keyrings for end of term

  6. ooh what a whirl of activity over there lizzie. i love the books u've made for j's teachers, they are so beautiful. hope they do like them. i have an amazing friend as well who when i moved house spurred me on to clear the clutter and sort out stuff, wish she was nearby now as clutter has crept back into the jo flat!!!!!
    loving the rain picutres too, see u in class.
    my girlfriends are also in london city for a birthday celebration i am once again missing. i hope the weather holds, it's raining cats and dogs here so if it come ur way hopefully not until the evening perhaps.
    Jo xxx

  7. My word, you have been busy! Lucky teachers - I wish I taught your son... ;-) The rain photos are fab, and I'm so impressed that you've sorted your house out. I get overwhelmed by the task here. I need to get a timer and just focus on one area at a time, just working till the timer goes off - if I do that every day we should soon see a difference! Unless D would like to come round for a visit?! xx

  8. wow! this has been one busy week! I am turning into a bit of a neat freak and now like to de clutter every now and again! love the journals by the way! Abi xxx

  9. Your friend sounds amazing. Love those notebooks, so cute.

  10. Wow,you have been so busy.The raindrops on the window photo is really good,and how nice of your friend to help you out. Those notebooks are fab,I really like the orangey coloured one - the teachers will be thrilled with them.x

  11. Hi Lizzie, finally getting round to catching up with your blog; love to read what you have been up to. Thanks so much for your kind birthday wishes!

    Oh my, how lovely of your friend to help you in your de-cluttering etc.

    Love all the books you made; I am sure they were very well received, you make such lovely things!

    I haven't been able to do much in Shimelle's class yet either; your rain drop photos are fab. I love to take rain drop photos, but we don't get it much. My camera lens is steaming up now since its so humid!

    Have a lovely week xx


I love to read your comments!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...