Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Hello from the Other Side!
Mind the Gap!! I'm Busy Relocating from South Africa to England!!!

Hello Everyone!  After 7 years of blogging I am writing my first post from my mobile!! No idea how this will work!!!  I haven't posted in a few weeks so here's an update of what I'm up to. Very soon I will be boarding a plane to England, which is to be my new home.

I can't believe the time has finally come - it has been a long time in the making with a huuuuuuge amount of planning & administration.  Living in the UK without a British passport (or an EU passport) is no easy feat to accomplish. The amount of red tape involved is phenomenal. Certainly not the simple process it was in the past.

I will be there for several weeks with just my 2 younger children & we will be looking for a home, schools & of course a source of income.  We are hoping to settle in the South West.  Really, it was like playing 'Pin the tail on the Donkey' figuring out what area best suited our requirements!

For the past few weeks I have been making plans for the other side as well as sorting through our possessions, which will be arriving in a container in a couple of months.  Yet again I have been faced with the task of thinning out our possessions to fit into a smaller home, something I have done 3 times in the last 10 years. While it's an arduous task I am grateful for the opportunity to reassess our priorities & bless others with our excess. I feel lighter already!  

Currently I am aboard a coach from the Eastern Cape to Durban. I have spent the last few days settling my son into his very first apartment, close to the university he attends. It has been lovely to be together cleaning, purchasing & styling his place into a cosy home. I'm confident & happy that he will have all he needs for the next couple of years, to complete his education in South Africa. 

Of course we would love to have him with us in the UK but he is midway through his degree & if he studies in England it would be as an International Student at over 3 times the price of what we are paying :/. My husband & older daughter will be joining us in several weeks, once the transfer of our house is complete, as we need to take the proceeds :).  All in all an exciting time for all!

I have been travelling like a pop star for the las month.  We spent Christmas & New Year in Cape Town, fondly known here as 'The Mother Ciry' as it is all round awesome.  A week after returning we travelled into the Drakensberg Mountains here to say goodbye to some old friends then the day after returning we flew BACK to Cape Town for the funeral of my Step Mother-in-Law who passed away after a long battle with Alzheimer's Disease.

The day after we returned I hopped in the car with my son & embarked on a 2 day road trip! Now I am on my way home again :-D. I haven't switched my laptop on since December!!  Creatively speaking I still have a few projects to share but that will have to be from my laptop once in the UK, when I have a moment & have caught up on a fair bit of sleep!!!  I am not going to be creating whilst I am waiting for our container to arrive as my luggage allowance is going to be full of winter clothing for the nrxt couple of months.

I am so excited to experience Winter! I know all about air-conditioning but nothing about heating!!  I am thinking about starting a new blog to document my journey from Southern Hemisphere living to Northern & my experiences as an African abroad.  If I manage to do that I will add the link to that to my sidebar of course.  I have resigned from all my Design Teams except for Prima, who have been very understanding of my current situation as I am forced to take a Leave of Absence until my supplies arrive.

I have no idea what the future holds for me from an artistic perspective.  I would love to have the time & space to create but at this point I can't place it high on my list of must-haves.  Hopefully the next few months will be nothing more of a creative hiatus & perhaps I will find my groove again sooner than I imagine!  So for now I'll say Goodbye & talk to you on the flip-side!!

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Guest Designer for More Than Words!
Challenge Blog - Lover of Life Layout

Hi everyone!  Today I am Guest Designing over at the new challenge blog
"More than Words" started up by 6 of my ex-Scrap Around The World Designers
 due to SATW closing down.  I am so delighted to have been chosen as their first Guest!

Their first January 2016 challenge is to use a SELFIE!  Along with that you need to take 
your inspiration from the word PERSONALITY!!  With that in mind I created this page
with everything that appealed to me at the time!  I love misting the old way, without
the watercolour look, so I grabbed a sheet of white cardstock I had tested some
mist on & started with that, overlaying it with my favourite grey ink & my
current favourite Prima background stamp.  I figured using my 
FAVOURITE PRODUCTS was a sure fire way to infuse
my PERSONALITY into my work!

I am also crazy about loopy threads right now & flowers are my FOREVER FAVOURITE!
I also added any words that came to mind to describe me, around the photos.  
Of course I used my signature staples & my typical double-photo diagonal 
design - because I wanted this layout to be a reflection of ME!
And that's my favourite way to design a layout!!

Of course there are loads of unflattering words to describe me too (at my worst LOL) 
but that is more for art journaling!  For layouts I do my best to focus on the positives!
I really can't remember where I got that cameo above but HOW PERFECT?!?
The woman looking into the mirror really reflects the selfie theme!!

Despite all the words around the page my journaling of "Lover of Life" is what I've chosen
 as the title for my page as it really sums me up.  I make fun happen out of every day 
situations because the truth is my life is not amazing or exciting but I learnt years ago
 that it really is the little things that count - so I use my favourite china at each meal 
& treat my family as often as I can!  Every day is a celebration in our household!

The alphas come from the Royal Menagerie Collection by Prima and are full of fun colours
 & different designs, all on the same sheet, which I think is a great idea as it makes it easy-
peasy to get the eclectic look without digging about for various different alpha sheets!

My paper layers are all Prima offcuts from different papers over the years, that I keep in one
bag.  I just love creating using what I can get hold of easily, lying about around my desk.
It really takes the "schlep" out of scrapbooking & infuses the creative fun, which makes
the process enjoyable rather than a chore.  Now on a more serious note...

Please support these ladies.  
They have worked very hard to bring you a great new challenge site.  
They were great key players in my administration team at Scrap Around The World 
& I fully endorse their new venture.  My 2016 is going to be uncertain & I don't know
 what it will hold.  Moving to a new country as I am doing next month is a very stressful 
exercise & that, coupled with working full time & getting my 4 kids sorted out, 2 with us
 & 2 away from home, was my main reason for closing SATW down at the end of 2015.

I didn't want to not be able to run SATW the way it needed to be run - with close attention to 
details, organisation & presentation, & I can't promise that kind of commitment any longer.  

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Happy New Year! My OLW {One Little Word}
A Scrapbooking Class, Some Vacation Photos
& Some Basic Picasa Photo Editing {& Taking} Advice!

Well Hello there!  Yes I know Christmas is over & all that but finally, after 3 weeks offline,
with only my iphone, NO wifi & very little mobile data signal, I am BACK ONLINE!  
albeit only for the next 24 hours!!  In Africa you have to be grateful for what
you can get LOL!!!  

I have chosen STRENGTH as my OLW {One Little Word} for 2016.  Although I am not a 
fully convinced fan of the OLW it certainly can't hurt to select a word & keep it in mind!
This year I am going to need all the strength I can get!!  I have a plane ticket booked
for next month & a busy time after that exploring England deciding where to settle!!

Almost as soon as we arrived in Cape Town {where we still are right now}  I taught
 a scrapbooking class.  I had pre-arranged it months in advance, together with a 
very lovely lady called Ann Ledgerwood, & she hosted the class at her home. 
 There were 8 ladies to teach & I hope they all had as much fun as I did.  

It was a mixed media scrapbook page & I taught techniques of misting, how to make
 your own, how to keep your paper from warping, balance & composition & how
 to successfully achieve a cluster.  The ladies achieved some lovely results
& my daughter was kind enough to join us to help clean & take photos :)

I haven't taken a lot of photos at all.  I actually go away on holiday to NOT take photos!
I take photos almost every day of the week all year so am happy to take a break!!
I also HATE bad photos & making people feel uncomfortable when we are out
in large groups &, even more than that, I hate photos with ugly backgrounds :/

So here are just a few... along with some basic Picasa Photo Editing Hacks.
So for anyone who doesn't know {that would be ME 8 years ago!!!}
Download Picasa for free HERE then go through your settings to
ensure everything is as you like it.  

This is how mine looks - just to give you an idea!  What is imperative at the very
 beginning is that you spend some {a LOT} of time renaming your files if necessary
 {unless you already have a system}.  I name my files according to the year {J is for
 2015 - A was the year I first went digital - 2005!}, followed by the month.  For example - 
January is 1, February is 2, etc - up until October, which is 10.  Then for November 
& December I also name them 10, because if I name them 11  & 12 they come up
 after January & before February!!  This way I can find what I am looking for with ease. 

Once you have a good filing system in place & you can find all your photos you can start 
playing with the editing functions.  Remember Picasa is downloaded from the web but it
 is not web based, so you can use it whenever you like, you do not have to be online. 
 It is also just a mirror of your ''My Pictures" /Photo Library, etc so you will also 
always have your photos stored there too.  

Don't bother using Picasa for editing your phone photos.  There are plenty of good options for those online that you can use straight from your device.  I like to hand my DSLR camera around at family functions & see what people come up with.  Takes the pressure off me & makes everyone feel like a professional
 photographer.  I take for granted the fact that I own an amazing camera but others don't & are 
delighted to hold it & click, SO I have to change my manual settings to AUTO, which means there's
 not a lot of point using it really, so I need Picasa to rescue the best of a usually bad bunch!

If out at a big family function find a white wall & encourage everyone to use that backdrop
for having some camera fun.  At least that way you can play with the sliders in Picasa
& push up the highlights to smooth out the background.  Not ideal but the photos
take on a funky, modern look which makes them great for scrapbooking!


 Text is another fun option in Picasa.  There are plenty enough good options & colours
as well as 2 tone on all of them, & you can pull the text box around, increase or
decrease the size, as well as making multiple text boxes by saving each one
separately as you go along.  That way you can have more than one font per
 photo.  Borders are something else I enjoy adding, as I print my own
 photos. {Makes cutting a lot simpler having a line to follow!}

You can also choose your photo sizes, as well as creating your own custom sizes
 & saving them under their own name for future use, or simply using the Manual
 sizing,with no dimensions.  To edit any photos simply RIGHT CLICK & select
VIEW & EDIT (the top option) or DELETE FROM DISK if you don't want them.

Then of course there is the famous Picasa Collage option!  To utilise this option
edit all your photos FIRST & crop them down to the right sizes.  Choosing similar
 sized photos makes for a better looking collage, as well as sticking to 3 - 5 photos, 
otherwise the photos end up looking too small.  If this does happen you can simply
 pull the photos you don't want OUT, as well as dragging the photos around,within
 the collage, to re-order them.  You can also click at the bottom for the basic grid 
structure of the collage to rearrange itself in all the possible configurations.  

Black & white is another great photo saver.  Everyone looks better in black & white!
Try it & you'll see!!  This works especially well when people have wrinkles or
rosacea LOL!!  Rather than simply selecting BW I prefer to move the sliders
manually myself & adjust the light & shadows for a bit more drama!!!

When things are really sunny do your best to get the crowd into the shade.  If not 
possible remember that the character of family photos is more important than
 the technology!  Notice my daughter's face above, with shadow across!! 
Do spend a little time arranging your crowd & trying to get the tallies in 
the middle & the shorties at the sides.  Also get everyone to squash
together & look out for mobile phones, wallets, etc.  Get people to
hide these behind their backs!  Arms around each other works well.

I remember when I first started using Picasa 8 years ago & worked through all the teething
problems, someone sent me a Facebook message & asked me to please email them to tell
them how to do it!  I replied politely, saying that that would really be impossible but if
they ever needed help with a specific thing they should get in touch.  They've never
spoken to me since LOL!  Oh well...you win some you lose some :-p

{Can you imagine sending someone an email explaining 
how to use a software program?! I could write a book on it!!}