Sunday, 30 September 2007

Peaceful weekend

Isn't it lovely when a weekend becomes truly relaxing with no pressures to achieve anything and no deadlines looming. We have had a lovely two days as a family making the most of the time together. Yesterday saw us heading out for a family shopping trip to do the weekly shop and collect a few other essential bits and pieces. It was lovely to be out with Alex in his baby bjorn and see him wriggling, chatting and gurgling away the whole time. He charmed everyone he met with his big blue eyes and wonderful grin. The rest of the day was an organisation and housework type of day with us catching up on jobs around the house, washing, tidying, cleaning, emptying bins etc. To me the most important part of the day was the time spent with Alex as it was just so much fun playing with him, and watching him try to stand up on my lap and wanting to be tickled. One of his favourite games is when Tim and I make funny noises at him and it makes him laugh out loud. Today we went out for a walk in the woods near Forge Dam and as it was cold we dressed Alex in his 'snowsuit'...he looked like a very cute Michelin man which was a bit of overkill. He wasn't cold though! He is getting more and more vocal and instead of sitting and staring was 'commenting' on things for most of the walk. It was lovely to be out as a family in the fresh Autumn air and walk alongside the stream. The rest of the day has been gentle and lazy, playing on the floor with Alex, chatting to friends on the phone and spending far too much time on Facebook which I have recently joined. I think it is a great way of getting back in touch with people I don't get to see anymore. I think Alex is beginning to struggle with sore gums from teeting as he kept bursting into tears for no apparent reason and was in need of more cuddles than usual, however, for the most part he has retained is usual happy sunny personality and been great fun to be with.
I haven't done very much in the way of crafting this weekend as I have spent the time cooking and doing other things. I did make a start on the next ATCs for the alphabet swap and have made this one, which is entitled 'J is for Jelly'. I just love jelly beans and thought that they made a great background and the jelly itself is decoupaged. I just have to repeat this now for my own records. Back to work tomorrow so I must go and get things organised. More soon,

Friday, 28 September 2007


Today has been a day of creating mess...the whole family have made different messes one way or another. Alex's lunchtime feed of fruit puree was his messiest feed so far, as was his bath as he got totally over excited and splashed and kicked no end - I was soaked at the end of it! I made mess in my crafting with doing both decoupage (the little squares from the foam stickers go everywhere) and by using flowersoft which also seems to migrate everywhere. Most unusually Tim also made mess, but his was a little more important - he attempted to fix the boiler and therefore got dust everywhere in the process. This brings me onto the other news...our boiler is on the blink. The boiler works for hot water, but the pilot light for the central heating keeps going out. We can light it again, but within an hour or so it has gone out. Tim attempted to fix this today and at time of writing it has been working for 5 hours...we have to wait and see if this is a complete or patial mend. Alex has had a slightly more fractious day than usual and we think that he may be starting to teeth as his level of drool and chewing his fists has increased as well as him having bright red cheeks. Despite that we have had a lot of fun together playing and making him giggle.

I have continued to play with my Christmas card design and have decided on this for the digital image...I may yet decide to put the angels back in, but they are drawn and all the other elements are photographic so they don't fit as well with the overall design.

The aim is to mount the photo on red or green card and then add glitter glue round the edge and to the tree as lights/baubles. This is a rough version of what the final card will look like, although the actual photograph will be brighter as this one was printed in rough on my home printer.

The other bit of crafting I did today was an ATC for Lottie based on one of her own photographs. Many of you will know her as 'The Allotment lady' and know that she loves Bantam hens. This ATC uses a picture of her original two hens called Dilly Dilly and Pumkin which I have mounted onto green card covered with skeleton leaves. I have then used flowersoft over the grass and cut out the chickens mounting them on foam to raise them up so they look like they are acually in the midst of the grass. Finally I added the little metal cockerel embellishment. I hope that she likes it!

On a final note, my mum was on TV today talking about autumn flowering bulbs on Alan Titchmarsh's new ITV show. She did really well, coming across as very enthusiastic and knowledgable and was awarded a 'National Treasure Award 2007'!!!
More soon,




Thursday, 27 September 2007


I’m exhausted! It has been a very busy two days, the first two work days I have done back to back. In many ways I can’t complain as they have both gone very well, and Alex and Tim have coped OK, but I am shattered because I haven’t been sleeping very well, and it isn’t really because of Alex either. Yesterday I had a meeting with my boss to discuss our immediate plans for a grant application and spent time with all my students, followed by loads of time internet searching for the information needed for this grant application. It was a lot of brain work to try and remind myself of all the information I knew really well 6 months ago and to catch up on the new facts about wound healing and the different signalling pathways involved in it. One of my students showed me some of her recent work on endothelial cells (blood vessel cells) and fluorescent markers and produced this rather beautiful picture.
Yesterday evening was wonderful, Alex was so happy and chirpy and we spent a merry hour playing before I fed him and put him to bed following which I made a couple of phone calls to family and then played around with my photoshop Christmas card before having some food and collapsing in front of an episode of Crocodile Hunter. Don’t you just love this cheeky grin!
Today was another work day and I have found it much harder going, mainly as a result of lack of sleep. I am still working on the grant and have a rough outline of how this will go now so am feeling happier about it. There is just one major section to complete in terms of new information and then I will have to ensure that the rest is fully up to date. Hopefully, all being well, I should be able to get a good first draft to my boss in time for our meeting on Wednesday next week. The highlight of my working day, however, was going out for a Chinese meal at lunchtime to celebrate Sheila going off on her maternity leave. There were 12 of us in all and we gave her the card (the one I made) and she loved it which was very nice. This was also a breakthrough for us as a family as it was the first time that I didn’t go home at lunchtime to feed Alex. When I phoned Tim he said that Alex had taken 4floz of milk from the bottle (with a cup teat) at lunchtime as well as his morning meal of a banana and an afternoon meal of baby rice. He has done so well and I am so proud of him.
This evening I have played with Alex, fed him, bathed him and put him to bed and am now having a little mooch on the net before collapsing in front of the TV with dinner. I have also had the delight of receiving 5 ATCs in the post in the past few days. These three are from the Alphabet swap that I am involved in on the CM&PC forum. G is for Girly is a wonderful ATC in pinks and purples with handbag, dress and shoes from Dawn Martindale. H is for Helicopter is from Kayleigh (aged 7) and I just love the textured sky and fluffy white clouds. I is for Indian Squaw is from Frances (Kayleigh's mum) and is a beautiful picture.
This ATC is from Lottie Middleton who joined the CM&PC forum at about the same time as me, I love the way the Singer sewing machine advert is mounted over frayed material and is glazed to make it look older.

This final ATC is from Janet Matthews and is my first alcohol ink swap. She has used the alcohol inks over foil into which she has drawn the leaf shape and them embellished with autumnal peel offs. I simply love the colours of autumn so this ATC is made for me. No time or energy for my own crafting today but I have high hopes for tomorrow.

Love to you all,



Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Contrasting days!

Yet again I have had two very different days. Yesterday was a work day and started with a big meeting to discuss a major grant application that I am involved in. It was back to basics science and as I haven't thought about transcription pathways, binding co-efficients etc for 6 months it was quite hard work. By the end of it I was back up to speed with where our progress was and I did manage to make some sensible suggestions I feel, so that was good. I also managed to complete my review of the article which was submitted to the Internation Journal of Pathology....I have to say that the article wasn't very good as the authors were missing some major pieces of information which would have made the article of relevance to ovarian cancer. I had to make the suggestion that they resubmit it with major changes so I will probably end up reviewing it again later in the year. The evening was lovely as Alex was in a happy giggly mood and we played for an hour with me making silly noises and pulling silly faces and making him giggle. The picture above is of him in his pyjamas ready for bed being really cheeky, grinning away and sucking his thumb at the same time!
Today was a holiday and we went out to do the shopping and for a walk in between the rain showers. It was lovely to make the most of the time I had with Alex and Tim and we had a lovely gentle stroll beside the stream with Alex happily gurgling away. The picture of the squirrel was taken on full digital zoom on my camera, but the squirrel came within less than 6 feet of us while we were walking which was lovely. I have to say that Alex has been a bit more unsettled today than normal - he has been more tired, a little more grouchy and off his food a bit - I wonder whether this is the start of teething. As I sit typing this he is sat up in his bouncy chair smiling, chatting and sucking his thumb, and every time I make a funny face he giggles and goes hyper. However, I am trying to calm him down a bit so that he will actually take some food before going to bed.
This afternoon saw me managing to catch up with a little bit of crafting and I completed my three ATCs for a Christmas swap organised on the CM&PC forum. This first one used a magic motif of a Christmas Tree covered with red glitter on a Junkitz 'Tis the season' background edged with red embossing powder and finished with silver shapes.
The second one was dry a embossed parchment bauble coloured in with vellum markers and mounted onto Junkiz paper, then edged with pebeo gold, and the whole card edged with pearly gold embossing powder.
The final one was a photograph I took of the hillside near us in the snow last winter and then mounted onto red card, edged with gold glitter glue and then a stamped image of Santa and his sleigh cut out, coloured and mounted on top of the photograph. Now it just remains for me to make one final ATC for the hostess of this swap and they will be ready to send off.

It is back to work for me tomorrow, so more soon,

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Having a tough time

I have to say that it isn't particularly me who is having the tough time, more Tim at the moment. His main hobby is computing, and especially computing gaming, so you will understand that when he switched on his computer yesterday morning and it didn't boot up he was somewhat stressed and upset. He has since spent the whole of yesterday and today trying to get it far he has managed to load up windows and is now frantically backing up all his latest data, including his saved games so that he will be able to continue his current game where he left off. A lesson to us all in the need to backup computer data I feel. As a result of the computer stress tempers have been a little more frayed than normal meaning that it hasn't been the fun weekend I hoped for. However, Friday was lovely as Alex and I went into work and had lunch with all my friends there. He was a complete star and showed off beautifully, smiling and gurgling at everyone, before getting sleepy and chewing his hand quietly. He didn't object at all to being passed around everyone and we had a lovely time.
Yesterday we did a massive supermarket shop with Alex in his baby bjorn and we had the greatest of fun as he was wriggly and chatty and wonderful to be with. In the afternoon he played in his gym and kept turning himself over and actually managed to roll back twice. He is learning fast at the moment. Yesterday also saw me embark upon a new endeavour, a digital Christmas card. Tim is quite keen that we send everyone the same card as we have done in previous years and he liked the idea of using one of our photos of our garden in the snow and then superimposing Christmas images on top of it. Thus my challenge was to come up with a design that will be printed out and mounted onto card with a few embellishments and sent to family and friends. The above image is my first attempt, which isn't bad, but I think it needs something more to it, although I don't yet know exactly what. Any suggestions would be most welcome.
I decided that as Tim was having such a tough time that I would spend some time in the kitchen making his favourite food so we have had Pork and apple pie with mashed potatoes and peas followed by apple crumble and cream. This was really a labour of love as I wasn't in the mood for spending lots of time in the kitchen, but the food was very tasty and it made him happy so it was worth it. Today has been an organising day, so while Tim continued to try and fix his computer I have been doing the washing, washing up, emptying all the bins, vacuuming the house and playing with Alex. Alex has been so funny today with wriggling, bouncing, giggling, smiling and generally being adorable...he more than makes up for the difficulties that have been in the weekend.
The only bit of traditional crafting that I have managed to do in the past 3 days is to make a card for Sheila who is going on maternity leave at the end of the week. I was asked if I would make a card for everyone at work to sign so I have made an A5 card (I normally make A6). As Sheila knows that she is having a little girl I have made the card very pink and girly using K&Co papers, textured cream card, pink brads and pink hands and feet. The buggy is cut out using a template from PaperCraft Inspirations, and the design is based on Sketch #30 from CPS, except that I used diamonds instead of circles. I would love to hear your comments.

Back to work tomorrow, so more soon,

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Rolling and giddyness

The past two days have been very different from each other. Yesterday was a work day and was totally exhausting...I had numerous meetings in different parts of the hospital where I work as well as loads of paperwork to do. I have really got up to date now and from next week will be cracking on with the immediate projects as well as supervision of my team (1 postdoc, 1 technician, 4 students). Having only had about 4 hours sleep on Tuesday night, by the time I got home on Wednesday I was shattered and didn't really achieve very much other than playing with and feeding fact when he was in bed we decided to collapse and watch a very silly teen movie (courtesy of sky plus) and had a lovely meal in front of the tv, of lamb and mint pie (bought at the weekend Fayre), gravy, mashed potatoes and fresh peas followed by strawberries and cream.
In contrast today we went out for a walk, went shopping, hoovered the study (which hadn't been done for simply ages), I tidied my craft area, played with Alex, and even had time for a little crafting. Alex has been hillarious as every time he was put down on the floor in his baby gym he would roll onto his tummy and the get stuck and yell to be turned over again. I lost track of how many times he did that today, although on 2 oaccasions he managed to roll back again. It wont be long before he is rolling across the floor - this picture shows how far he got from the baby gym this evening! When he hasn't been on the floor we have put him in his bouncing chair and he has gone completely mad bouncing himself up and down with gurgles, giggles and enormous grins.
The only crafting i have done in the past two days has been to make this ATC entitled 'butterfly music'. Unfortunately the scan doesn't do it justice, although it is subtle it is much richer in reality. The background paper is K&Co and two of the corners were covered with music printed vellum. I then heat embossed in pearl gold round the edge of the ATC and a butterfly in the centre. The other two butterflys are 'dry' embossed using a pen and an embossing board, then coloured in on the back and cut out before being stuck to the card to finish it.
Isn't it lovely when you get unexpected packages through the post? I received two envelopes yesterday containing 4 ATCs. I was very happy indeed. This first one is from Angie and is a digital collage image that she has generated and then mounted onto an ATC with added fibres. I fell in love with this the moment I saw it and just had to swap with her!
The next three are all from Dawn. I love the dwarfs...she did the entire set of 7, but I decided that I couldn't be greedy and chose just these two. There is real texture and depth to these cards which is hard to see on a scan.
The final card is also from Dawn and is a lovely medallion which is decoupaged. A very beautiful card. More from me soon. In the meantime, have a happy weekend everyone.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Organisation and fun

Yesterday was another work day and the busiest one so far. However, it was good as I had an hour long meeting with my boss, Nicky, to discuss where the different projects had got to while I was off, and what the immediate plans are. I then went on to draw up a 10 page summary document for my own use detailing everything helping me to remember all the different signalling pathways that we are currently researching in breast cancer. I have a grant application to write before the end of October as my most pressing work project as well as an article to review for the International Journal of Experimental Pathology. The busy day was made very special by the fact that Alex behaved like a star...he was smiley and happy and giggling before I left for work and was chatty and fun over lunch and then in the evening was the perfect angel baby boy who smiled and played with me for an hour before going into his bedtime routine.

Alex has been so happy and bright over the past few days and he has been so amusing. His latest favourite game is to sit in his bouncy chair and wriggle and violently kick his legs which causes him to bounce up and down. This in turn makes him smile, chat and on occasion giggle. He is still trying to roll over and in the space of 30 minutes today had rolled over 6 times getting stuck each time! We also had the messiest feed ever today which was a pot of petit went everywhere, all over me, Tim, Alex, the sofa and the some ways I think it is almost too runny for him. It was highly entertaining though. Today has mostly been a sorting out day as we went to the pharmacy, the butchers, the post office, the fruit and veg shop and the local costcutter, all with Alex carried on my front in the baby bjorn.
I have managed to do a little crafting today in the form of this quite simple, but effective ATC entitled unimaginatively 'red dragon'. The background is red, black and gold swirly paper which I mounted onto card and then edged with gold embossing powder. I stamped the dragon image in red onto white scrap paper and tore round the edges and then finally added a hand drawn Chinese character. Work again tomorrow, so no more crafting until Thursday at the earliest.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Giggles and Ostrich Burgers

Firstly an apology for not updating this blog in the last couple of days...I have been feeling rather exhausted and lethargic. No real reason that I know of, just a bit run down I guess. On Friday Alex and I went out for lunch with Julia, one of my best friends. She is due to give birth to her second child at the beginning of October and so it was nice to spend a bit of time with her. We had lunch at Vittles and although Alex was due to have a nap he was far to interested in all that was going on to sleep, so he entertained us by gurgling away the whole time. Yesterday we went out for a family walk to the local shops to post a parcel to friends and came back with a very yummy lunch of fresh meat and salad sandwiches and carrot cake.
At breakfast today Alex had us in hysterics as for some reason he was finding everything hillarious and kept giggling non-stop, and he has continued in a very happy frame of mind all day which has been great. He has been chattering, gurgling, beaming, smiling and giggling for almost all the time he has been awake, which has been so lovely to see and be on the receiving end of. Today was the Whirlow Hall Farm Fayre so we made a special effort to head out to it, despite the fact that Tim wasn't feeling very well. I loved seeing the horses and dogs and Tim loved the food! It is hard to say what Alex especially loved as he was smiling at everything! I took him on the tea-cups ride with a request that the man didn't spin us round too much and he seemed to enjoy it...not really my thing as I feel a bit sick when spun round too much.
Alex and I setting out on the tea-cups ride, smiles all round from him
The arena and food tent in the distance (Tim's hand holding an Ostrich burger is in the foreground!)

I have to say that Tim and I pigged ourselves...we had vegetable semosa's and indian spring rolls, Ostrich burgers, brie and french bread, melon, fudge, mince pies and fresh donuts. Ostrich burgers are really unusual, but very tasty, not at all like chicken...a sort of cross between pork and beef. I recommend them highly. I feel totally full now and don't really want any tea, although we are going to have some very unusual bread (bought today) with soup so it shouldn't be too filling.
This afternoon, while Tim slept, Alex was lying on his baby gym and kept rolling over and getting stuck meaning that I kept having to stop my crafting to turn him back over. Despite that I managed to complete the challenge for Wednesday Stamper which was to make an ATC tryptic. Mine was based on an Oriental theme with the background card of bamboo shoots stamped over with the Chinese lettering for 'summer' in green. I then cut out a decoupage geisha girl for the central panel and two fans for the side panels to generate a fairly simple, but (I hope) sophisticated tryptic.
I haven't really had much energy for crafting over the past few days so the only other creation was an ATC using the same bamboo background card and my Chinese Dragon stamped in dark green onto white mulberry paper and then edged with gold. Finally I wrote Chinese symbols in the corners in gold.
It is back to work for me tomorrow so I will update with more when I have the chance.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Completed tasks

Well the last couple of days have been completely different from each other, and yet in both days I completed lots of unfinished projects, both work and play. Yesterday was my second day back at work, and I finally managed to complete going through all those e-mails, not only that but I was able to respond to all those that needed action. This means that I am fairly well caught up with that backlog. I also managed to have a detailed meeting with one of my students, leaving me with only a few meetings next week before I am fully up to date with where all the different research projects are. My desk and new office are well organised as well so it is all feeling as though everything is back under control. I can't say that I like leaving Alex, but he has been doing really well with Tim so at least I don't need to worry about him. They both have naps at the same time which does them both good. In the evening I played with Alex and read him a story before putting him to bed. At least I get to spend about 2 hours with him after I get back from work.
Today we went for a lovely walk even though the weather looked a little dodgy, but while we were out the sun came out. We went a slightly different route round the Forge Dam area, but it turned out not to be very pushchair friendly so was a bit tricky...I don't think we will be doing that walk again in a hurry. I have also organised some ATCs for swaps that I have been involved in, putting pre-prepared ones in envelopes ready to post tomorrow. I also wrote some of the cards I have recently made so that I could post them as well. The morning was also a washing, cleaning type of morning so all in all it has been a busy couple of days.
On the crafting front I have made one ATC, which is part of a 'train of thought' swap that is on-going on the CMPC forum. This swap is basically like a crafting Chinese Whispers. I was sent the card above by Barbara Williams entitled 'You can fly' and I had to take inspiration from that ATC to make another to send on to the next person in the line. For example I could have used fly, birds, the blue theme etc.
I got the inspiration for my card entitled 'AirMail' from the Par Avion on Barb's card. From this I then used various papers from K&Co that were to do with Air Mail and then added the butterflys. I nearly called it Butterfly post. The little butterfly is cut out from a K&Co paper and the other butterfly and the edge of the card is gold embossed. I hope Kerry likes it and I look forward to seeing what she comes up with in response.
I also received a lovely ATC from Linda Brunton. This is so different and unique that when I saw it I just had to swap with her. She is a new member of the forum and I am really liking the stuff she is producing. I look forward to swapping with her again.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Fun time!

Alex with his sun hat on ready for our walk
Today was a lovely free day with nothing major planned as I was taking the day off work. We went for a gentle stroll through the trees and Alex entertained us beautifully as always by gurgling and chatting. Tim had a cream cake craving so we went to the cafe and found Bakewell and treacle tarts instead...very naughty, but extremely nice! I have made the most of today by playing with Alex and experimenting with a new stamp that Tim gave me of a chinese dragon as shown below.
This first experiment is a card for the Wednesday Stampers challenge from last week which was to stamp onto mulberry paper and to use it in a card. I stamped the Chinese Dragon image onto mulberry paper and layered this onto glossy card that I had given an inkwash background and then stamped the Chinese lettering on for a background. This panel was edged with light and darkblue ink and then mounted onto dark blue card before mounting onto the light blue card blank. This again is a break from my usual style and I feel it has been quite effective. I would love to know what you think.
I made two ATCs in the same colours using the same ink washed background. One of them had the Chinese lettering stamped in the background and a blue dragon, the other had a gold dragon and a hand drawn Yin-Yan symbol.
Finally, I made a further ATC which had a resist technique as its base with butterscotch Adirondack ink and hearts, the card was edged with gold and had some gold doodling on it. The dragon was stamped in red and then the clear areas coloured with gold pen.
Back to work tomorrow, so must stop here. More soon.