Saturday, 31 January 2009

Clustr Maps - Get one Now!

I promised to give CJ at Clustrmaps a "shout out" today, for all the hard work him & his team does on the Clustrmaps site. I have always received "over & above the call of duty" service from CJ at Clustrmaps & my clustrmap is just my ALL TIME FAVOURITE WIDGET.

Firstly, it's FREE.

Secondly, their team offer great support & personal service. They helped me when I was a blogging idiot at first, to install my widget, then again, when I had my idiot moment & lost all my widgets!

Thirdly, the clustrmaps widget is just SO COOL. Take a look at it down on my sidebar. It's very simple to install & it's such fun to actually be able to SEE (from the size of the circles on the map) whereabouts in the world your blog has been viewed & where it is more popular than others. Fascinating stuff...

It was the first widget I installed & is definitely here to stay.

Go CJ & The Clustr Maps Team!

Remember to grab one NOW!!!

Roll out the Red Carpet!

It's awards time!

Cathy & Desire have both been kind enough to give me an Award! Yippee!! I love awards.
At first I never thought I would get any but am slowly amassing myself a nice little collection...Thank you girls! I can't thank you enough - you are both great commentators on my blog &, as you know, I love reading yours. I have to pass this award on to 5 other people (x2=10) so am ABOUT to post the list. Before I do, I just want to say, that, while I love to receive awards, I am always worried about upsetting or offending anyone who DOESN'T receive it, passed on from me. Hopefully I will receive many more awards in future, lol, so - your turn will come!

Without further ado my selection, in no particular order, is :-

ANDREA - Andrea's was the FIRST blog I ever followed so my journey began with her. I'm sure she's responsible for bringing alot of us "Africans" into the blogosphere!

HEIDI - Heidi & I have become "thick as theives" in a very short time. We just "click"... So, if you enjoy reading my blog, pop in on Heidi & you won't be disappointed.

JACKI - Jacki is our resident Photoshop expert so, need any tips & she'd be your girl. Her posts are also ROFL to read & she likes to give things away now & again - a generous blogger - Yahoo!

JENNY D - Jenny is one of my newer blogging buddies that has already proved to be a loyal fan!

JENNY NZ - Jenny is Jenny's sister in law! She is involved in the scrapping scene in New Zealand.

MICHELLE - Michelle is a blog buddy "close to home" for me & we found each other through Desire (who gave me the award) - I think - I loose track - lol!

MONIQUE - Monique is one of my team-mates at Little Shop of Sketches & is from the Netherlands & an awesome scrapper.

STEFANIE- Stefanie is another of my team-mates at Little Shop of Sketches & keeps a great online "journal" in the form of her blog.

VICKI - Vicky was ALMOST the first person to ever comment on my blog & has kept me going with all her help & support. She is ALSO a Little Shop of Sketches Design Team Member.

JOANNE - Joanne is one of the sweetest people I know. Her posts are as sincere as you'll find & often funny in a poignant way - amazing how her written voice mixes reality & humour.

Phew, all that linking was exhausting,lol! Will have to inform them when I have another energy burst :-)

Pimping my name, as promised, was a lot LESS successful than Eric Comstock with his anagram for Cosmo Cricket!!!

Here is what I came up with:-

That was a lot harder than I thought & I had to sit on the bed & shuffle scrabble letters around 'til I came up with something vaguely acceptable... Just for you Heidi, lol! LILLY BEEN HURT would be quite a funky name for my next line (debuting at CHA next February...) If only...

Friday, 30 January 2009

2009 - Things to come...

This is the official colour pallette for this year so remember to use some (maybe not all,lol!) in your next layout if you want to be bang on trend. How do I know? Well, I'm a trend researcher...I've always been obsessed by trend, hence my choice of profession. I just find it very interesting how all trends inter-relate (ie:- economic/behavioural/etc) not just fashion...Add this to your Google Reader if you want daily access to a mine of absorbing information regarding colour trends

This colour is called MIMOSA (after the tree, obviously!) by Pantone (the colour experts) & has been voted as the hottest colour trend for 2009. Yellow is an optimistic colour & a happy one. I've changed my blog title colours to yellow (yesterday, before I read freaky is that!?) Talk about a trend follower...I even do it subconsciously,lol!

How's this for an awesome (yet simple...) layout? Of course it's by none other than my favourite scrapper, Ali Edwards, who always makes scrapping look so effortless. My favourite layout for January 2009 for sure. As usual she's right on the money with her colour combo...

Here's a sneak peek at my favourite kit so far (have been checking out all the new releases at CHA - SO exciting...) Cosmo Cricket are just pure genius & I had the pleasure of meeting Eric & Julie Comstock at the 2007 Scrapbooking Convention in Johannesburg (how's that for a bit of shameless name dropping,lol?!) BTW did you know that Cosmo Cricket is an anagram of Eric Comstock. How cool is that?! I wanna do that & see what I come up with for my next line of, umm...oh yes, just remembered I don't HAVE a line...oh well, will be fun to do anyway. Will let you know what I come up with tomorrow. Good nightie all ;-)

Thursday, 29 January 2009

My Journalling Junkie Reader's Challenge 49

I decided to take part this month. If you look on their blog you can take part in the next one if you like...The challenge was to "Describe what you have LOVED & also NOT so much loved about your parenting."


Journaling reads:- LOVE the hugs & kisses...
the camaraderie...
the "family" jokes...
the animated movies...
the kids' "lingo"...
I can't say I've loved every minute of it & I'm sure you don't expect me to! It's been a great ride tho' & one that will never end (yay!) The fact that my own childhood was marred with sadness spurred me on to create my own fanbase in the form of YOU.
Okay, so at times you may not always be fans, but you know that I love you & always have your best interests at heart. Sometimes that means saying NO but I've decided that life is not a popularity contest & I am first & foremost your parent, then your friend.
don't love so much the early morning school run...
the loud music...
the sibling bickering...
having to share my camera!
repeating myself (repeatedly!)

So thoroughly enjoyed that & like my flower idea (under the O) even if I do say so myself!

I printed my journalling on photo paper for a change, as I had some offcuts. As the white was very stark against the warmer colours I painted on some GOLD then took a wet wipe & rubbed most of it off, leaving a softer effect. This gives a nice semi-glossy finish. I used my DECORATIVE SCISSORS for the first time in years (around the frame & the journalling 'spots') & stuck with a mustard/brown pallette (seems to be a favourite of mine at the moment...). I used bazzill swiss dot (textured) for the background - am LOVING this cardstock ;-) & a couple of blue accents as it's the contrast colour to yellow. I embossed the metal heart with bronze & painted the arrows mustard (sanded first to give them a 'key') & I recoloured my white glitter stickers (& flower edges) to "creamy brown" using an inkpad. I also used this to swipe the edges of my matt.

If you're having trouble viewing the detail just versi
click on the image for a magnified version (just in case you didn't know...) I was very happy with how it turned out & have you noticed that I didn't use ANY printed paper & relatively few embellishments so it fitted easily within my (rapidly declining...) scrapbooking budget, lol!

Welcome to South Africa...

Got sent this via e mail & had to post it. For the rest of you around the world you may not be aware that the crime situation in this country is completely out of control...enough said!

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

One Happy Girl...

Oh yes! That would be me...As you can see things are almost back to normal. Just have to play around with colours & do a little tweaking...3.5 hours with my IT man & my blog is virtually (pardon the pun) restored! Turns out it was nothing to do with "me" or anything that I had done WRONG but rather that Blogger just happened to be working on the site & it was "under construction" at the very time that I was trying to change my template!!! Norty, norty Blogger! Just because your free doesn't mean you can mess with our settings & templates...I've tried accessing sites before when a pop-up has appeared, saying "This site is unaccessible at the moment due to maintenance" or "This site is currently under construction." It's not difficult to "put up a sign" then I would have steered well clear of my template & would have saved me sleepless nights & heartache!

Although I would have preferred to live without it, this experience has certainly seen me grow & learn. I can now back up my blog posts & comments once a week & have my HTML for my template & widgets all backed up, so I feel much more secure & not so worried that my blog may go up in a puff of smoke one day! I have lost a bit as I redid my entire blog roll on the dreaded night & now have to redo it. From what I can remember everything else is present & accounted for. I can't tell you how relieved I am & may I suggest that you learn ASAP how to do regular back-ups & how to save ALL your HTML (including widgets) so you don't end up in the stressed out state I was in. Many of you suggested I move over to Typepad or Wordpress but I just don't have the time to learn a whole new "language" (program?) again as Blogger has only just become second nature to me...

My week so far has been taken up dealing with this & other technical glitches in my Photo Storage program. NOT the most exciting stuff...Am also busy working on my Design Team layouts & having FUN printing out my own photos, which are working out at 20% of the retail price!!! The trick is, find a reputable ink cartridge supplier that will give you the best price on genuine HP cartridges (R270 each at Matrix at The Crescent) & use good quality but INEXPENSIVE photo paper (Premium 260gsm Wove) at CNA for R110 for 50 A4 sheets. THEN edit away & knock yourself out! I got 22 A4 sheets out of quarter of a cartridge.

Way to Go!

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Ain't it Awful?

What started out (4 hours ago) as a bit of fun has turned into my worst nightmare. Inspired by all the other pretty blogs on the block, I decided it was high time I spent a bit of time investigating customizing my background. I did some thorough research on alliebrowndesigns. & it all looked wonderfully safe & easy. I was assured of losing none of my widgets so I proceeded to change my template to Minima, then edit my HTML to customize. Fortunately (I hope...)

Blogger suggested, via some pop-up text just after I clicked on Edit HTML, that I backup my blog as per their instructions, which I did. Then I proceeded to do the cut, copy, paste thing, which all worked fine, only when I viewed my blog it was just the same (ie the awful white Minima) without the beautiful digital-scrapbooking look of the Allie Brown design I had selected. I tried for hours...I'm not stupid. The instructions were simple. I followed them. The new HTML is still there. Only my blog has not changed. From what I have learnt on my blog ride, this is impossible. Yet it is true.

When I gave up trying to customize my background (I sent Allie an e mail & hope she will get back to me soon) I scrolled down, only to find, to my HORROR that all my customizations, ie gadgets/widgets/text/photos/archives/newly updated blog roll/ sitemeter/live traffic feed/clustrmap/blinkies/etc/etc/etc were ALL GONE!!!!!! I then spent an hour on Blogger Help to try to find out how to restore my blog (the one I had backed up). Now I was delighted. It was, again, simple. I followed the instructions & said THERE IS A PROBLEM WITH THIS FILE & it could not be imported back. So it is still sitting forlornly on my desktop, refusing to open.

Devestated as I am, there is nothing I can do but pray that my dear IT man, who is coming next week (hopefully...) can RESTORE the blog I backed up, albeit MINIMA (plain white) but hopefully with all my customizations (side-bar thingies). There is no warning on the change templates page, saying that you will lose all your sidebar stuff, or I would never have done it for crying out loud!!!!! Here I was thinking that I as finally making such good headway & now I am practically back to square one. To describe myself as devastated is something of an understatement. Anyway, until I get confirmation from my IT man Anton, as to whether or not my customisations can be restored you are going to have to look at a VERY UGLY BLOG - sorry! All my interesting little bits & pieces have gone (hopefully only on a short holiday) so now you know...

Allie Brown has another, even simpler way of customising your blog, without altering the HTML, by going into LAYOUT & clicking on Add a Gadget, then clicking on Add HTML & putting the HTML she gives you, via copy & paste, straight into there. Now the very worrying thing with this is that when I tried to do this (as I have done many times before as it's how I add most of my gadgets) that option NO LONGER EXISTED. Go see for's no longer there! Check via your dashboard to. There is no LAYOUT tab. How in the heck do you add anything then? There is some blurb about upgrading if you want to customise, & losing all your previous customisations in the process. Very worrying. If that hadn't been changed TONIGHT at the same time I was tinkering with my blog, perhaps all my sidebar gadgets would be there. Talk about terrible timing...

I just have this sinking feeling that THAT has something to do with it. If any of you have had a similar experience and/or have any brainwaves please let me know. Distressed signing off ;-(...

Friday, 23 January 2009

Little Shop of Sketches Design Team

I made it!!! I'm so excited...You can go here to have a look at all the successful submissions. I have the blog in my BLOG ROLL too so add it to your Google Readers if you like!

SOMETHING IMPORTANT - I have decided to take a leaf out of Joanne's book & leave my replies to your comments in the COMMENTS section of my own blog (that's if I can do it,lol!) 'cos as you know Blogger makes it tough to reply without logging onto your blogs or e mailing you. So please check the comments of the PREVIOUS post when you are reading a NEW post, to see if I have left you some love...another BTW, please don't leave anonymous comments, they're kinda creepy, if you're having problems with your ID rather just put your name, as Monique has done, otherwise I'm always left wondering if you're a cyber perv!

I have had a hectic week, mainly revolving around kids & school. I did get into The Zone (aka my Scrap Room) yesterday for a few hours. It was fun. I love being in there. I've missed it ;-( I bought a desk in early December (a Christmas treat, lol!) that I set up in my bedroom, because I didn't want to be holed up in The Zone all holidays & wanted/needed to keep an eye on the kids. It's lovely having a little facility in my bedroom & I set it up for my Christmas class by Shimelle Laine so everything I need for that album is in there. BTW I still haven't finished the album, I did well initially then got waylaid when we went I need to get it done ASAP. Hate unfinished work & it's not my style. I like to finish all my projects & generally do so can't live with myself 'til I get that ticked off my list...soon I hope!

Pottering about my space made me realise that I could start a shop with the quantity of supplies I have! I am as in love with stash shopping as I am with scrapbooking! I don't think I ever go overboard on the purchasing but it's amazing how one's supplies seem to breed over time. I have been doing some online blog stalking & am loving what I see at CHA. The latest releases from October Afternoon & Sassafrass Lass are particularly appealing. Wonder when & if we will ever get to see any of it...which brings me to THIS. Yesterday (22nd January) I received my DECEMBER 2008 issue of Creating Keepsakes. Talk about a long walk to freedom, that magazine must have been making it's way here for the last coupla months so I ripped the poor thing out of it's plastic as soon as I laid eyes on it. I thought I was never going to see it & by the time I had faced up to the fact I couldn't find it online anywhere to purchase (locally I mean).

Have been too tired to look at it actually...just skimmed a few pages, but as my Christmas Album is completed up 'til Christmas it's a fat lot of good to me now...mind you, bet I can find some old photos of Christmases gone by to catch up on if I REALLY want to!!! My feeling of being overwhelmed by stuff was obviously short-lived as I found my way to Reminisce today for a bit of peeking. I phoned Scrap4Africa Mt Edgecombe & Renel told me NO NEW STOCK...Anchen's away (bet I can guess where she is...seriously jealous!), as I have made it a resolution not to walk into Imagine That this year (long story...) the only place I was left with locally was Reminisce. Love that little place but sadly NO NEW STOCK. At times like these I just wish I was elsewhere! Anyway, the good thing is, I am forced to dip into my reserves, which is a VERY good thing really.

I'm supposed to be saving up for a scanner (to scan my layouts rather than photographing them as I think it would be SO much easier & look SO much better) so I don't rally have money to throw at more stash anyway.

Anyone doing the 365? I have been taking the photos but haven't started yet. Will keep on taking the photos & hope I can get going once my JYC album is out of the way. My PICASA is refusing to accept any more photos. Think it is full...means I have to purchase more storage from Google. Needless to say hubby is not too happy about that as we have 7 free photo programs on this pc, but, to be honest with you, I find Picasa SO user friendly & it's editing functions are awesome. All you photoshop users are probably chuckling now 'cos I've heard that is the business, but when you're used to Photosmart Picasa seems like it IS Photoshop!

So need to sort out that little IT issue before I can post any more photos to my blog so that is a know how I love my collages ;-)

Behind the Scenes (South African Scrapbook Industry)

Finally! I have managed to copy & paste this onto my blog for all to see...have been trying all week but my HTML couldn't be accepted. I don't know a lot of Candice's work 'cos I haven't lived here long enough but what I saw on her blog was gorgeous - almost edible...

Could really relate to this sad little tale - so much so in fact that, rather than just giving you guys a link, I wanted to go the whole hog & have a record of it on my blog forever. It's rather a long read but riveting stuff...

Rescued by pretty paper, repositionable adhesive & a beautiful blonde dog...

Not to put too fine a point on it, but so far 2009 has sucked - big time. The past few weeks have been stressful, incredibly sad, eye-opening & very, very lonely.
So this is where I just have to say it - thank God for scrapbooking!
With all my decorating & gardening projects I had on the go last year, scrapping definitely took a back seat. In fact, if I said I scrapped half a dozen pages in 2008, I may very well be exaggerating. My heart just wasn't in it.

My one & only resolution this year is to scrapbook more {finally a resolution I will be able to keep}. My goal has been a layout a week & so far I'm right on target - yay me!
Being able to sit quietly & play with pretty paper & letter stickers & glitter has been my sanity saver; my confidence booster; my spirit lifter; my little life raft in an ocean of sadness that has threatened to engulf me every single day for the last few months...

Somehow I had forgotten just how good being creative feels; how deeply satisfying it is to stand back & look at a completed layout & be able to think, "at least I can do one thing right."
Well gee, this is really starting to sound like a pity party & that was not my intention at all {although if they are serving cupcakes at this particular pity party, hell yeah count me in and I'll have milk & sugar with my cup of freshly brewed misery, thank you very much!}

No, my intention is to celebrate how the simple act of being creative can heal so many hurts & bring such unexpected joy. My intention is to remind myself just how much I love scrapbooking and more importantly why I love it.
You see, somewhere along the way I lost {perhaps 'mislaid' is a better word} my passion for scrapping - something I never, ever thought would happen.
Not in a million, billion, trillion years!

I began to associate scrapbooking with bitchiness & backstabbing; gossip & endless drama; jealousy & duplicity; plagiarism & politics; empty promises & blatant lies.
I was used & abused & taken advantage of more times than I care to remember. I gladly shared my time, my talent & my ideas with women whom I later discovered had no ethics, morals or scruples; women who thought nothing of {pardon my french} screwing their "friends" over in an effort to get ahead, make a quick buck or get themselves noticed.

I began to question my judgement; I felt like a complete idiot for being so naive & gullible, for being duped again & again by people who called themselves my friends. I was angry at them for betraying my trust, and even angrier at myself for not seeing through all the bullshit & lies, especially the second & third & fourth time around {yes, I'm a sucker for punishment, what can I say?}.

And so I became jaded & cynical and slowly but surely, the joy was sucked out of scrapbooking for me. All it was adding to my life was stress, frustration & buckets full of tears. I made a conscious decision to withdraw from the world I had immersed myself in for so many years - no more message boards or online galleries; no more classes or crop nights; no more publications or columns - nope, I was done.
Or so I thought...

Having taken a huge step back, I was able to view the scrapping scene from the sidelines - objectively & dispassionately. Suddenly I had a fresh perspective & with it came an Oprah-style A-ha! Moment: it was not scrapbooking itself that I was disillusioned with, it was the industry & the culture it seems to have spawned.
A culture of rampant greed & bitter rivalry; professional jealousy & one-upmanship; outright dishonesty & an alarming amount of skulduggery.
During my stint as a "professional" scrapbooker I have been privy to a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that has left me dismayed, outraged & on occasion shocked to the very core.

Who would've thought paper & glue could be the source of such treachery? That stickers & ribbons could illicit drama fit to rival the plot of any soap opera you care to think of?

All of this flies in the face of what scrapbooking is really meant to be about - a wholesome, healing, creative endeavor that should be undertaken with love & peace & joy, not to mention honesty & integrity; an activity that should nurture the spirit, foster friendships & celebrate sisterhood.
To my mind scrapbooking should make you feel warm & fuzzy & happy & skippy & bouncy :o)
Not to mention satisfied & proud & content!
If it makes you feel anything less than that then perhaps you need to ask yourself if you are doing it for the right reasons.
Or maybe you should try another hobby like rock collecting or something.

I cannot deny it.
The simple truth is that I love scrapbooking {and rock collecting is really not all it's cracked up to be}!
I love the entire process. I love what it represents. I love how it makes me feel.
I am grateful for the doors it has opened & the opportunities I have had to meet some remarkable women that I am honoured to call my friends.
I am in awe of the power it has to heal, to connect people, to forge friendships, to turn ordinary women into artists & storytellers, to give us the opportunity to be able to stand back & admire our latest creation & think just for a moment, "Damn, I'm good"!!

I cannot imagine my life without scrapbooking. Or taking photos. Or journaling.
Or shopping for supplies ;o)
It makes me happy.
It calms me down. It gives me focus. It nurtures my spirit & feeds my soul.
Some say it's cheaper than therapy, others may beg to differ on that one... but when all is said & done, scrapbooking adds immeasurable value to my life :o)

So I will sit in my pretty little pink & white studio & I will scrapbook just because I can.
I will listen to the sounds of the sea instead of rumours & the latest scrapping scandals.
I will scrapbook for myself, not for an audience, or to earn money.
I will be more discerning when it comes to choosing my scrapbooking companions. For now the beautiful blonde dog lying at my feet will do just fine. I don't think she has a hidden agenda, but these days you never know. She may very well be plotting to steal my ideas, pass them off as her own & sell them in exchange for bones... I guess I'm just going to have to take my chances on that one!
I will gladly post my pages here, not for accolades or compliments or criticism, but because I believe wholeheartedly in sharing ideas & knowledge & inspiration unreservedly with like-minded people.

So, what I want to know is...
a) does this ring any bells with scrappers around the world or is it specifically a South African phenomenon?
b) SA Scrappers - know what Candice is talking about & how did you/do you deal with it?
c) How to avoid it? For me, I started scrapping at home a year ago & have never looked back. I was feeling rather lonely though so started my blog, which has definitely solved THAT problem, lol! I don't have a blonde dog but was rescued by 2 lovely kittykats that love to keep me company.

Awesome Give-away from Queen & Co.

Got to be in to win it - lookie here…

I didn't post yesterday...shock, horror! At least you all know now that I DO have a life, apart from blogging,lol!

Back to school is quite a shock from all angles. There is a serious time shortage even though I now have the mornings 'to myself'. As you can all relate (I know from seeing your posts...) anything can happen in those few hours, from the ironing upwards & onwards, so it's not always time for ME so to speak.

Afternoons have so far been a nightmare, with 3 different schools to get to & no parking in this province! Doesn't seem to matter if I'm early or late (or on time!) I have to wait 20 minutes creeping up to the gate behind a gazillion other cars...what a time waster! (probably a fuel waster to come to think of it...) I haven't been able to send an e mail from my phone for 3 days now (provider/server problem I presume) so I can't even get anything useful done in that time either!

Last night I had the JOY of covering over 50 exercise books in plastic. Couldn't find any ready made covers so had to do it the 'old-fashioned' way. Oh so tedious! Surprised I didn't amputate a finger en route, I was half asleep by the end of it. Wish I could make this post more exciting but Guess What??? Gotta go...Friday today & the cherubs finish early ;-)

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

My Layouts for Little Shop of Sketches Design Team Call

Here you have 'em at last. Today was the last day for submissions & I got them in a coupla days ago. I was quite happy with how they turned out. I've never followed a sketch before, let alone adapted one, so hope I had the right idea...To be honest I've always though sketches were for the unimaginative & wanted to be responsible for kick-starting my own imagination. Having said that I really enjoyed using a sketch as my starting point so may very well do it again sometime. Just shows you that we should try (most) things once!

16 Things about me right now.

I found this on Ali Edwards' blog & thought I would give it a whirl.

This is the 2nd time this week that I have copied something (from someone's blog) & pasted it into Word, then made my changes & saved it. Then opened up a new post on my blog, pasted it in & tried to publish it, only to be told that my HTML cannot be accepted. If anyone can tell me where I am going wrong I will be most grateful. I have had to print out the document & am now going to copy type it out...devotion for you!

1. I have been on a diet for 3 weeks today. So far I have lost 5kgs. It hasn't been as bad as I expected. In fact I have actually enjoyed it. I feel tons better & less tired & achey (medical reasons for that last one) & haven't had heartburn once. (suspect that may have been from bread).

2. Today the kids went back to school. Fortunately they were all excited to go, even the two that went to new schools. Thank God for that.

3. These days I spend what little spare time I have blogging & am wondering whether there is any point buying any new magazines, as I never have time to read them. If I do, it's late at night & I can't find them (my daughter is a magazine thief).

4. I realised today that I have stopped noticing the sea. As we live a few kilometres from it & have views of it almost everywhere we go it's hard to miss. I think this means that I have finally settled in & become a Durbanite after 3 (long) years.

5. I've finally tired of "Human" by the Killers. It started playing on the radio today & I turned it off. A sad day...

6. I saw a massive fire in town today & my first thought was "I bet someone started that on purpose." I hate the way Africa has turned me into a cynic.

7. I realised today that I am still witing for my January issue of Scrapbooking Inspirations (from the UK). I have been so busy e mailing Creating Keepsakes in America - I'm talking DOZENS of e mails - that I forgot about Scrapbooking Inspirations. I have not received my last 2 issues of Creating Keepsakes & no-one can give me an answer as to whether my issues were ever actually sent. Now it looks like my subscription with Scrapbooking Inspirations is going haywire too. Hate the way the rest of the world puts Africa at the bottom of their priority list.

8. I wish I could travel more. After seeing Donna Downey's latest adventures I realised that people with kids still manage to go away alone (somehow). Sadly I can't see it happening for us until the kids leave home as we have no relatives living close by.

9. I can live without Chuckles. I haven't had one in 3 weeks & will probably always miss them, but realise our relationship has no future ;-(

10. I actually LOVE fruit & veggies, just not the time it takes to prepare them for eating. Now that I am into the chopping habit I've been reminded of how downright delicious they can be.

11. Age has mellowed me out SO much I wouldn't have believed it possible. Right now we are in the middle of a family saga & I am spending very little time worrying about it (after the initial drama of course).

12. I wish I had time to watch more TV. I've just NEVER got into the habit of vegging out for hours in front of a TV screen & think it could benefit me just to relax & enjoy the diversion.

13. I love the night because it's as quiet as my life is going to get at this stage. We live on a busy road so it's never totally silent for long but I think I stay up as late as I do because it's the only time I get to hear myself think...

14. I'm coping so much better with the extreme heat & humidity than I have done in the last 2 years, which just goes to show that one can adapt to anything eventually. After my first summer here I actually dreaded the next one coming but this time I welcomed it & have become a sarong lover to boot!

15. I haven't eaten a sweet or chocolate in 3 weeks & haven't had a serious craving. This proves that it's all about keeping your blood sugar levels stable. It feels good to have control over my appetite rather than the other way around.

16. I miss gardening. I still do the basics but there's no point planning & implementing improvements when it's not your own home.

Seems like a pretty arbitary list to me, but I'm sure it will be interesting to read in years to come. Could also make for great journalling on a double layout with appropriate photos.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Frazzled & Frustrated...

I had the perfect post for today & have just spent an hour preparing it for you all by copying & pasting it from someone's blog to mine (their story is brilliant). Sadly my HTML cannot be accepted. Not sure why. No time to play about & try to work it out. Will try again as & when. School starts tomorrow & I am still busy covering books & altering clothes. I am ravenous. I have spent the whole day jumping from task to task like a rabid flea. My life changes, starting now (for the term time at least) so I need to whip up a nutritious dinner - dieting sucks - do a spot more sewing, then take a couple of sleeping pills & lie in bed with the new OK (which BTW arrives 2 months late, despite it's hefty price tag, so is not actually new...).

Tomorrow I rise at 6 & (I won't bore you with the rest)...
Will try to post the layout photos for the Design Call tomorrow as the deadline is officially over then. My computer is up to it's tricks as usual (okay, it gave me a little break over the festive season - thanks pc!) Picasa is permanently frozen & my bandwidth usage is ridiculously impossible to believe so I am waiting to be cut-off any day now. I am having to load my new photos into my daughter's profile (on this pc) & edit in HER Picasa, then save to a memory stick 'cos I can't send my jpegs to her e mail as she has no e mail address. Then I'm having to transfer them to my profile so that I can send them (S - L - O -W - L - Y) to my blog. Suffice to say that you may not be seeing any photos until this one is resolved!

Last night I HAD to spend 2 hours trying to sort this out because I HAD to e mail photos of my layouts off in time to meet the Design Call deadline so fortunately I DO have the 2 LO photos ready to post. Watch this space tomorrow. Hunger calls...

Mel interviews me!

This is a fun little interview compiled by Mel, who sent me the questions. My answers are in purple.

1. Having 4 kids these days always raises eyebrows....did you always plan to
have a larger family? And how do you manage time with each child and the man
and time for yourself?

1a) Yes, Shane & I always wanted 4 kids, then settled for 3 & I became pregnant with my 4th despite the fact that I was on the pill, so be does happen!

1b) Things are definitely easier now that the kids are bigger as they are now 15, 13, 10 & 8. They all have different things they enjoy doing so I take them out separately wherever possible so that I get some quality time with each of them as often as I can. Having a full-time helper at home makes it possible to leave my teenagers at home sometimes while I'm out with the younger ones, & they don't mind in the week 'cos they go out with their friends on the weekends!

1c) Shane & I have hardly had an uninterrupted conversation in years & do a lot of our communicating via e mail & sms - that always raises an eyebrow but it works for us! He is also a great father & helps out on weekends, when we either do things as a family or take 2 kids each so that we can do age-appropriate things with them. We have a date night every week, where we go out alone while the kids are babysat - we usually go for movies & coffee.

1d) I've only had a bit of time to myself in the last 2 years, since my "baby" has been at proper school & I've got some help in the house. I commit several hours of my mornings to scrapbooking with a bit of time on each end for errands & stay up far too late blogging & reading. Being an insomniac definitely helps!! It's an exhausting life but when your kids need you you have to deliver.

2. What was your biggest adjustment after getting married or what part of marriage were you least prepared for?

The first year of marriage was definitely the hardest. We fought a lot (as we did for the 6 years that we dated!) but neither of us ever doubted that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together & the making up was great! We'd been together for so long that it wasn't really difficult to adjust to being married. I was probably least prepared for the lack of privacy. Although I love being with Shane I also need my alone time & when I used to work all day in a stressful environment then come home to someone also demanding my attention it was tough at times. These days we don't have to say a word to each other for hours on end but are just happy if we are together. We are way more mellow now & gave up arguing seriously years ago.

3. Share with us one of your most embarrassing moments.

Fortunately I haven't had many, probably because it takes a lot to embarress me! Once, when I was in my early twenties, a friend & I booked to watch a fashion show at a posh hotel. We didn't realise that there were 3 Jacaranda Rooms in the same hotel (very strange but true) so went into the first one we came across. There were round tables of about 8 scattered all over the huge room & many glamorous models walking around rather randomly. We thought it was all a bit strange because we were expecting a ramp...Anyway, we made our way to 2 vacant chairs at one of the tables & ordered drinks. Before they arrived we were pounced upon by one very angry bride, who spoke harshly to us, causing quite a commotion. Unbeknownst to us, we had gatecrashed her wedding reception & she was having none of our excuses! We had to saunter/scurry out of there as fast as we could & didn't know whether to laugh or cry...

4. Tell us how you met your man and your very first impressions....

We met in a nightclub when we were 17. We both used to go to the same one every week but had never set eyes on each other before. I have always had an affinity for very tall people so I noticed him straight away. I saw him "checking me out" for a couple of hours but he was obviously too shy to talk to me so I eventually went over & asked him to dance. I had a curfew & only half an hour left before I had to leave so I knew I had to do it. We danced until it was time for me to go then he asked me for my phone number & we had to go to reception to borrow a pen & a bit of till slip to write on! My heart flipped when I first saw him & still does at times. I could tell that he was foreign because he looked "different" to all the Zimbabwean boys & the rebel in my wanted something exotic! I found out that he was Zambian, boarding schooled in the UK & I seriously loved his accent so he ticked all the right boxes.

5. What are your personal dreams and aspirations aside from seeing your kids
grow up happy and healthy etc.

I would like to live in a first world country eventually & would love to travel a bit more once my kids leave home. I want to learn French or Italian & live somewhere in Europe. I hope to always maintain a close relationship with my children & really pray that they find suitable partners so that I get to be a hands-on granny. I want to do a correspondence English writing course (I've had the details of the exact one for years) to give me all the know-how to write articles for magazines, which is something I've wanted to do for a long time. I also want to improve my photography skills as much as my finances will allow so that I'll eventually be on a professional level & may use that to do some freelance work aswell. I'd like to keep "pushing the envelope" with my scrapbooking too & enter as many competitions/design team calls as possible & see where that leads me.

Thanks Mel! I had no idea how hard that would be...It has taken me over an hour. Safe to say I would be a hopeless celeb!

Monday, 19 January 2009

Quick, Quick if you want some...

Lovely FREE stash, that is...Only a couple of days left to enter so don't miss out. Go here to check out what could be yours...

Have you read/heard about the funny story going around at the moment? Paris Hilton is a scrapper! Somehow that doesn't seem likely, but she did put in an appearance at CHA (some kinda big event in America -Craft/Hobbies related- where all the new product from the design houses is unveiled). She was happily signing away that magic name of hers but don't think she was doing any demonstrations! I tried to follow the story as comprehensively as possible (celeb stalker that I am...) & it seems that she has provided the financial backing required for this venture but has 3 other partners who do all the "hard work", lol!

My research brought me to an even MORE interesting story about Katie Holmes...
She appears to be a bona fide scrapper of note, with a dedicated scrap room & a US$3 000 per month stash-spending habit. Isn't that just the most sickening news you've ever heard? That is one lucky chick! Now that explains why she married Tom...always wondered what she saw in him! Just joking...he's okay & I'm very happy for her & TRYING not to feel jealous...

Today passed in a blur as the pace of life quickens with the school term approaching. Just counting my blessings that there seems to be a little space for me to do some quick blog-hopping!

What a response!

I'm having a little chuckle now 'cos obviously I struck a chord with a lot of you "out there!"... I have so many comments on my last coupla posts that I'm acknowledging them here - thanks! I'm very touched that so many of you took time to "give me some love"...

I really enjoy putting out posts that I hope will elicit a strong reaction (every now & again) just for a bit of action. It's good to "shake things up a bit" & give you all food for thought if I can.

Another thing I've been asked about with regard to my recent photo printing is what printer I have. It is an HP Photosmart D5163 & I'm sure is bottom of the range (my husband bought it, lol!) He always gets the most basic 'cos he's a very responsible spender...It's a couple of years old now I'm sure & I was just commenting to him the other day that it's done us really well. Things usually pack up when I say that kinda thing so let's hope it keeps going strong! I have been experimenting with my own printing for about 18 months now, with varying degrees of success.

I think I've got it sorted now, with the photo paper I mentioned being good quality & extremely well priced. It's also good to buy for printing titles on & even typing journalling on so I like to keep a pack even if I don't always print my photos at home. As I said, it's R110 per pack of 5o & details are on my last post. It has a look similar to Bazzill, tho' obviously not quite as textured. I'm very happy with it as it is a really sturdy weight & my local photo printer has started using ridiculously flimsy paper to print on, while the price remains the same. Needless to say, this is hacking me off & I intend taking him an A4 print from November & an A4 print from December (about half the weight) & asking him if he intends graduating to tissue-paper for my January prints...

For some strange reason, Durban seems to be more expensive than Jo'burg & Cape Town. I've definitely found that to be true when we are in either one of the two on a visit. Cathy & Stefanie commented that they print 100+ photos for R1.49 & R1.35 respectively. Here I pay R2.00 per print for 100 or more photos. I go to Photo Africa in Gateway (down by the Climbing Wall - the rock) as they used to do great quality. I was not impressed with my last bunch of photos, due to the lightweight card they used, which is why I decided to try again at home. I'm also keen on using smaller prints some of the time & "postcard" is the smallest I can print at Kodak. I also prefer my photos matt. I seem to be in the minority as a lot of the printing outlets here only offer glossy prints which are "not for me."

Today I was home for most of the day, scrapbooking (don't faint - I actually scrapped for HOURS!!!) I packed up some stuff to take with me just after Christmas, when we went away. Of course, I never did any scrapping on holiday, despite the best intentions. So, for the last 2 weeks (since I've been back) I've been meaning to unpack my bags & familiarise myself with my workspace again. I just hadn't "got back into it" until today. I spent 3 hours sorting everything out (& unpacking my new stash from Joeys) then scrapped 2 single pages that took me 3 hours each! I can speed scrap when I want/need to but these layouts are for a Design Team Call so I took my time.

Truth is, I'm virtually paralysed when it comes to doing anything "seriously", ie for a competition, etc. I suddenly clam up & am terrified to stick anything down, it's pathetic! Anyway, I did it & I'm proud of myself for getting it done. I reckon the results are pretty pleasing but I realise that there will be submissions from all over the world so I may not stand a chance. Whatever the outcome, I put it all down to experience & I want to keep trying out for challenges to try to learn to relax about it, 'cos when I relax scrapbooking is fun! I need to photograph my LO's tomorrow & send them off, then I'll upload them sometime this week to show you all.

It's very late now & I'm up early tomorrow with Jack, who has a busy day of cricket coaching followed by school cricket team trials. School starts on Wednesday & I still have various loose ends to tie up before then for all the kiddies so I may not be lurking around blogland too much in the near future...

Saturday, 17 January 2009

We're all the same...

But, at the same time, all so different. That's what makes the world such an interesting place to live in (not that there are any other options, lol!) Needless to say, all commentators felt similar to me, yet with different degrees of concern regarding this blogging business...Of course, it's been a hot topic in the household too, with the two main debaters, Shane & Jack, both giving me totally conflicting advice. Shane reckons if it brings me pleasure to read & comment on a blog & I (almost) never get any type of communicative feedback I should do it - for myself.

Jack, on the other hand compares it to Mxit (only South Africans will know what I mean here I think...) where he has tons of people wanting to talk to him & ignores alot of them! He reckons they should "get the hint" & push off...BTW he's a very nice boy but has a seriously busy schedule & is quite "clicky" about his social circle (he's into a lot of sport & only interested in those who share his passion so I 'spose it's fair enough really). I tend to agree with him...while Blogging is great in that you get to be "a fly on the wall" in people's lives some relationships aren't meant to be & you can't flog a dead horse.

It goes without saying that any of you reading my blog are NOT those in question, just by virtue of the fact that you are HERE ;-) & I certainly do not expect you all to plough through my musings daily & comment on them. Personally, I try to make sure to get onto "my" blogs (I follow) at least once a fortnight during my busiest times or once a week ideally & leave a comment now & again, as I would in real life (we'd meet for coffee every so often, as our busy schedules allowed).

I don't bother commenting on manufacturer/celeb scrappers sites too often as there are usually 183 comments before mine & I certainly do not expect a reply. That would turn into a full time job! I don't even send "replies to comments" all the time either, even tho' I do try to at times, suffice it to say that I (like you) love getting some feedback. Positive reinforcement is a wonderful thing. At the same time, I certainly don't have overly high expectations, leading a very busy life myself, but I am the type to reassess my journey every so often, as my blog has reached the 3 month mark now & is sleeping through the night. I continue to meet new & interesting people along the way so am not going to "throw my pearls to the swine" as the expression goes & hang around where I'm not wanted. I think this is just a natural progression but was looking for some confirmation/affirmation as it was proving a bit of a mental dilemma.

I'm over it & onto other things...I've been printing out my Picasa collages here at home (I often go to Gateway to develop my photos if they're straightforward sizes as I reckon it's actually more costly to do at home). They look just beautiful. I'm very chuffed. Finally I can finish my JYC (Journal your Christmas) album. According to my schedule (spend more time planning it than implementing it, lol!) I should be finished but reality got in the way & I got up to the 23rd December, then got too busy with Christmas preparations, then went away on holiday. We got back 2 weeks ago so it's definitely time to get my A into G! The kids & I have had a great time together & made alot of memories. Now I need to scrap them...

FYI I printed 16 A4 pages worth & it looks (from my ink-gauge) that I used about 1/4 of my cartridge - about R120worth + R40 photo paper = R160 total = R10 per page. Now to me that is pretty economical...I've got collages with photos in all shapes & sizes on them & have "gridded" them (where they don't touch each other but rather have a line between them - mine have a white space of about .5cm) This way I can scrap them "as is" as they look rather nice...or cut them up so that they each have a little white border around them. I used to be against this look but with the price of cardstock forever on the rise I'm now digging it! Honestly, I think it's more fresh & modern anyway but not having to matt is a definite plus both time & money wise.

BTW the tried & tested photo paper I buy is from CNA & comes in red cardboard packaging written Premium Photo Paper. 260gsm, Wove, Waterproof, Resin Coated. 50 x A4 sheets cost R100 last time I bought them but I saw today that they are now R110 (nothing unusual in this part of the world...) I've tried the lighter weights that are slightly cheaper but don't like their flimsiness. Although the packaging doesn't state, the paper is matt, which is what I prefer.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Why do you blog?

My husband has been into cyber relationships for alot longer than I have but hasn't embraced the whole blogging concept. Each to his own & ,rather than evangelising, I actually enjoy us each having our own domains. Not really sure what he gets up to on the net to be honest...don't care either (we have a very trusting relationship) but think it's mainly music chat-rooms, as is his interest. Haven't done the forum/chat-room thing myself so can't comment but somehow he has managed to form a few cyber relationships, one in particular that has developed into skyping/ msn/e mails/sms's...blah,blah, blah. I'm almost jealous (particularly as said friend is female...) but it is all above board & nothing more than it appears. In fact, she is a great girl & regularly sends me Yorkshire Tea so where's the bad in that?!

Which brings me to my corresponding parallel...You're all my blogbuds as you know & I love being part of the Internet Community but what I want to open up for discussion is this...what to do if a "Blog you follow" doesn't reciprocate. There are certain blogs (rather, SEVERAL blogs) that I just adore but a few (fortunately only a few...) that I read religiously - in fact, I can't wait to see what pops up in my Google Reader as often as I can get online - BUT that, while their posts are inspiring - aren't embracing the interactive part. It's tough having a one-way conversation KWIM? I need to update my Blog Roll & am thinking (time obviously being a consideration) should I be spending time reading blogs (& leaving comments) when there is no relationship developing & no give& take?

I suppose we all have our different reasons for blogging & we all get different things out of it but, to me, there seems to exist an unwritten "code of conduct" with regard to the Law of Reciprocation in Blogland. Maybe I'm making too much of it & should "just chill", maybe these "wicked" thoughts are only coming into my head in light of my personal circumstances at the moment (where hubby & I are in the line of fire with his family-as outlined in a previous post) or maybe what I'm daring to say is something I'm not the first to have considered. What do YOU think?


(Can't claim this as entirely my own but I did adapt & shorten it).

I would never trade my wonderful life & loving family for fewer wrinkles or a flatter belly. As I've aged I've become kinder to myself & a lot less self critical. I've become my own friend & don't chastise myself for eating that extra cookie or not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need, but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant.

I have seen too many people leave this world too soon, before they understood the great freedom that comes with ageing. Whose business is it if I choose to read or stay on the computer until 4 a.m. and sleep until noon if I feel like it? I will dance with myself to my favourite 80's music & walk on the beach in a swim suit stretched over my bulging body if I choose.

So what is I forget stuff? Some things in life are best forgotten anyway! Of course I've taken a battering along my journey through life but a broken heart is what's given me strength & empathy for others. I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my laughter etched into my face - so many have died without the time for that.

As you get older it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself as much anymore - I've earned the right to be wrong! I like getting older. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I'm not going to be on this earth forever but while I am still here I will not waste time lamenting what could have been or worrying about what will be, but will simply be satisfied to savour the life I am leading RIGHT NOW.

IQ Test Anyone?

This made my brain ache...This flipping thing took me a while (not sure if there is meant to be a time limit...)I've always wanted to take an IQ test but what inspired me to do so at 2.30 in the morning is another story (see last post where I was in need of a mind diversion) Remember?! Click on the gadget& take the tour (if you dare!)

IQ Tests

BTW my husband score was higher than mine so now I know there is DEFINITELY something suspect about this test... - IQ Tests

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Ever the Optimist...

I am trying to see the good in a seemingly awful situation...

Unfortunately the whole online paper debacle is a relatively minor incident in my life right now. That's right, I've got way bigger fish to fry on the family front (don't worry, I've been urging them all for months to read my blog & have never received one comment so the likelihood of "anyone" seeing this post is, well, unlikely...) Nonetheless, I'll spare you all the gory details...

Suffice it to say that I am in the dwang right now, thanks to...not myself...
There is an ongoing saga in "the family" at the minute & somehow I have ended up in the thick of it, despite NOT DOING ANYTHING & NOT GETTING INVOLVED. I was volunteered! Yup, someone decided to speak FOR me (to" help me", you know...) despite strict instructions to the contrary. Apart from that, I was misrepresented (you know like when celebs are interviewed & somehow what they said is printed, but kinda not actually how they said it...not that I'm saying I'm a celeb!)

Boy, it is a bad place to be in ;-( I have tried to "sort it out" but have sunk deeper into the mire as a result. I'm not sure how that is actually possible but there should be a word for it don't you think? I'm now at a loss as to where to go from here so am just treading water, hoping it will all evaporate! Why oh why life continuously foists this rubbish on us is beyond me. I know I will live through it & may eventually forget "who said what" (not likely,lol!) but for now I am in need of some serious diversion of the mind! PLEASE may that NOT come in the form of ANOTHER problem:-)

Oh to be Young again...or not!

A new little quirk regarding my blog is it insists on underlining everything...very strange!

Still...not one to be put off easily I soldier on nonetheless! I received this via e mail & have adapted it to suit my needs. Think it is very profound & something that I totally relate to - how about you?

I would never trade my wonderful life or loving family for less wrinkles or a flatter belly. As I've aged I've become kinder to myself and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend. I don't chastise myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need, but looks so avant garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant.

I have seen too many people leave this world too soon before they understood the freedom that comes with ageing. Whose business is it if I choose to read or stay on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to my favourite 80,s music & walk on the beach in a swim suit stretched over a bulging body & dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set. They too will age...

I know I am sometimes forgetful but some of life is just as well forgotten! Over the years my heart has been broken. How could it not when you lose a loved one or one of your children suffers?
Broken hearts are what give us strength, understanding & compassion. A heart never broken is pristine & sterile & will never know the joy of being imperfect. I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my youthful laughs forever etched on face. As you get older it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore. I've even earned the right to be wrong.

Ageing has set me free. I like the person I have become. While I am still on this earth I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. I will simply take life in my hands & squeeze out everything it has to offer.

Why I chose to have 4 children...

As I sit surrounded by seemingly endless quantities of exercise books & covering paper & plastic, wondering if I'll remember how to Scrapbook if I ever have the pleasure of doing it again...I saw this. Strangely, it cheered me up!

Job Description for a Parent.

Mum, Mom, Mummy, Mama, Ma
Dad, Daddy, Dada, Pa, Pop


Long term, team players needed, for challenging permanent work in an often chaotic environment.
Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24 hour shifts on call.
Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away places.
Travel expenses not reimbursed.
Extensive courier duties also required.


The rest of your life.
Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs R50!
Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly.
Must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf.
Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers.
Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects.
Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks.
Must be willing to be indispensable one minute & an embarrassment the next.
Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap plastic toys and battery operated devices.
Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.
Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product.
Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.


Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you


None required unfortunately.
On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.


Get this! You pay them!
Offering frequent raises and bonuses.
A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent.
When you die, you give them whatever is left.
The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.


While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and free hugs and kisses for life if you play your cards right.