just an old-fashioned girl

Hello and welcome. I'm glad you dropped by. If you´re looking for something a little nostalgic of bygone eras with a timeless elegance and a little modern twist – in other words, something slightly “retro” – then you should feel right at home here in my shabby chic room. Month by month, there will always be something new to see so I hope you´ll enjoy your stay and come back again soon.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Rolling For Joy

I said recently that when Dora started doing her daily doggy aerobics on the lawn again I´d know that all was right with her world. No sooner said than done. On Sunday, just 4 days after her operation, to prove to me that she was feeling well and happy she trotted purposefully towards the lawn as if she had an urgent appointment and then threw herself down and started rolling ecstatically among the daisies.
By this time her Santa trousers had already been reduced to just half a leg after they´d started sliding down spewing cotton wool at every step and gathering in folds around her thigh. Herbert cut part of them off and hoped that the next ones would remain intact.

Yesterday when he took her back to have her bandage changed the vet was astonished by the fact that she was already walking on all 4 legs. Herbert told him that she only uses 3 legs when she runs. The very thought of any dog actually running 5 days after such a serious op astonished him even more. When he examined the wound on Dora´s knee he said he´d never known a dog to heal so quickly and that she was quite remarkable. Well, that doesn´t surprise us as we´ve always known that Dora was remarkable.
When Herbert brought her home I was amused to see that her disreputable looking Santa trousers had been replaced by something that looks very like the Scottish Saltire.
After another couple of aerobic sessions that pristine white will be dingy grey but I won´t mind her abusing my national flag in such a good cause. I´m just so relieved that she´s already back to her old happy self.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Home Again

Dora got back home in the late afternoon yesterday looking dazed and confused but struggling gamely to walk without help. It was a warm day and I´d already laid out her rug on her favourite spot on the path to the garden and she headed straight for it and lay down. As you can see from the photo she looked as if she´d borrowed half of Santa´s trousers and I didn´t know whether to laugh or cry.
She had that look on her face which means she feels hard done by and she knows exactly who to blame for it. It´s always directed at me, never at Herbert, and it always makes me feel guilty. Of course that could just mean indignation at having a camera shoved in her face when she feels she looks slightly ridiculous and can´t do anything about it. We let her lie outside for a while so that she´d know her beloved garden was still there and then Herbert carried her indoors where she stretched out and instantly fell asleep. When I got up early this morning she was lying in front of the bedroom door and started wagging her tail as soon as she saw me so at least I knew she wasn´t feeling as bad as I´d feared and had also forgiven me. Dora´s never been one to hold grudges. When I went into the kitchen I saw that at some time after I´d gone to bed she´d eaten her dinner and that made me really happy. Dora´s not a greedy dog and doesn´t eat if she´s feeling unwell so that was a good sign.
She´ll have to keep Santa´s trousers on for the next 6 weeks and have the bandage changed every second day then her leg will be X rayed by which time she´ll hopefully be back to her old self. I think I´ll only be convinced of that when she starts doing her daily doggy aerobics on the lawn. Then I´ll know that all´s right with her world again.
Get well soon, Dora.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wishing Dora Well

Last month our vet said that the limp which Dora had was caused not only by arthritis but by a damaged tendon in one of her hind legs which might require surgery. He made an appointment at a veterinary clinic for her to be X rayed. At the clinic Herbert was advised to leave her there and they´d phone late in the evening once the sedation had worn off so he was surprised when they contacted him only a few hours later and said he could collect her. Apparently she had been so calm and well behaved that sedation hadn´t been necessary in order for her leg to be X rayed. However, that was the only good news. Apparently, while examining Dora the vet had discovered a lump on one of her front paws and had taken a tissue sample to send to the laboratory because she was certain that it was a malignant tumour. An ultrasound scan had not shown any traces of cancer in her internal organs but the cells might still be too small to be apparent. Only the results of the biopsy would tell whether the cancer was still only localised or was at a stage where it had already metastasised. The vet said that in any case the least which would have to be done was a partial amputation of Dora´s paw and asked Herbert if he wanted to leave her at the clinic for immediate surgery. Herbert, in a state of shock, said he´d rather wait for the lab results. A week went by with no word from the clinic. After that Herbert phoned every day for another week and then contacted our own vet who phoned both the clinic and the lab only to discover that there was no trace of either the tissue sample or the report. I won´t describe how we felt after 2 weeks of constant anxiety. If you´ve ever had a beloved pet you´ll know without being told. The vet immediately took another sample himself and sent it off to the lab with instructions that it should be given priority. When he eventually phoned with the results we were both so stunned we could hardly believe it. The "cancerous tumour" was in fact a simple case of inflammation with not a trace of malignancy. The relief was indescribable.

As for the surgery, in a strange kind of way our 3 weeks of anxiety have paid off. Our vet had originally intended to send Dora to the veterinary clinic in nearby Mönchen Gladbach because he has great respect for the expertise of one of the surgeons there. Unfortunately, the surgeon in question was at the time attending further educational lectures in Washington. By the time the cancer scare was over he had already returned from the USA and we were lucky enough to get an appointment with him. I can´t tell you how relieved we were to hear that Dora would be in such good hands as we know from experience that vets who train in the USA are the best in the world - but that´s another story.

Dora´s surgery is taking place as I write. Herbert has just returned from the clinic with a very favourable impression of the surgeon. What particularly impressed me about the procedure is the fact that while he was explaining exactly what the surgery entailed, Dora was gradually falling asleep after having had a sedative so that she wouldn´t experience the trauma of being parted from Herbert and led away by a stranger. The surgery consists of the bone on Dora´s “knee” being split and a metal wedge inserted. This will strengthen her leg and take the place of the damaged tendon. 

We are naturally a little anxious about her but confident that this is all for the best and that very soon Dora will again be doing all the mad things that Dora does best such as... 

...and later on while we´re on holiday in Domburg..

...and, of course, her very best trick...
Of course the best news of all is that she´ll be doing all this with all 4 paws intact!

I´m sure you´ll all join me in wishing Dora well and tomorrow I´ll add a PS to this to let you know how she is after her surgery.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Easter Bunny Freebie

I´d like to give you this little gift early because bunnies aren´t just for Easter. In my Easter Bunny Freebie you´ll find bunnies for many other occasions too. There are 9 sets of the little rascals including a bunny in love for Valentine´s Day, a gardening bunny digging up – guess what - right, carrots of course. There´s a cute little ballerina bunny and a bunny snuggled up in bed with his teddy bear, sorry, I mean his stuffed bunny and, oh what´s the point of describing what you can see for yourself.

If you´d like to have these bunnies in good time for your Easter layouts or cards, you can catch them HERE, that is if you can run faster than the average bunny...

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Changing Rooms

Recently my cousin Neville emailed me asking if I could make a picture for his wife Margaret from the header on my blog. As some of you may know, the elegant lady sitting on the couch is Neville´s mother, my Aunt Lucas. I have many photos of her, mostly studio portraits from the 1930s in which she´s immaculately groomed and stylishly dressed. You´re probably thinking that the photo on the above header is one of them. Not at all!
As you can see, the photo was actually just a snapshot. According to the writing on the back, it was taken in March 1932 in the small Scottish town of Balloch on – to quote our national poet, Robert Burns - “the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond” - and shows that Lucas didn´t only dress in her best for her many studio photos but also for a day trip to the country. You could say that she looks just as immaculate sitting on a rock as sitting on the sofa in my header.

Anyway, that´s just the history of the photo. Back to Margaret´s request...I was wondering how I could possibly transform my blog header into a picture for her to frame when I suddenly remembered that I already had one. Years ago long before I started this blog I´d created a series of fantasy rooms one of which had been the inspiration for my header. I dug around in my folders and finally unearthed it.
It included the table, the vase of roses, the oval picture and Lucas seated on the sofa which are all in the header too. And if you look directly to your left, you´ll even see the china ornament which I´d placed on the table. I was tremendously relieved to think I´d found the perfect picture and wouldn´t have to start from scratch. That is until Neville sent me a photo of the frame...
 ...and I realised with dismay that 30.5 cm x 30.5 cm into 19 cm x 24 cm won´t go. I tried cutting the image down to size but that resulted in chopping the large oval picture on the wall right down the middle. It looked as if I might have to start from scratch after all. Then I had a thought that sent me scurrying back to the folder where I´d found the jpg and there, amazingly, was the original layout in psd format with all its layers intact! With some resizing and a little manipulation I finally ended up with this.
I was about to send it off when the thought occurred to me that since Margaret and Neville live in far distant South Africa the chances are I´d never get to see my work framed and hanging on the wall. On the other hand, since I´d already extracted the frame, there was no reason why I couldn´t have a preview of the finished picture on my computer screen.
Looking from the frame to the picture and back again I was just thinking that Margaret couldn´t have chosen a more beautiful frame when an idea occurred to me that made me smile. 
Maybe I should have called this post “Spot The Difference”.
Can you?
Will Margaret...
...and which one will she choose?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Faster, Easier Downloads!

As many of you will know, for years I´ve been storing my kits and freebies at 4shared. It wasn´t the ideal solution as it was pretty slow but it worked well enough and I never had any complaints...until just a few months ago when 4shared altered my settings without informing me and then things started to get difficult. First of all I discovered that if someone wanted to download any of my recent freebies she had to ask my permission so I had to keep checking to make sure that my settings remained as I´d set them and not as 4shared would have them. Then things got out of hand when suddenly 4shared refused to allow anyone to download anything, including kits, without opening a free account. That´s when I started to look elsewhere for alternative storage ...and by that I mean free storage. As I´m sure most of you know, I don´t have a large commercial store. I only sell my own kits and don´t invite other designers to contribute. Designing digital scrapbook kits is, and always will be, just a hobby and not a money making concern. By that I don´t mean that it isn´t thrilling when someone likes my kits enough to take the trouble to purchase and download them. However, if I had to pay for storage there would then be the worry that the store wouldn´t earn enough to make it worthwhile, and anxiety and creativity don´t mix well. I spent hours searching for a suitable website and came up with absolutely nothing. It began to look as if I´d have to close my store. Then I did what I should have done right at the start and told Lajuana who had set up my store in the first place and is still very much involved with it. She immediately offered enough storage space on her own website to accommodate my entire collection including any future kits. I shouldn´t have been amazed by her generosity as she´s always been a good friend but I thought – and still think – that this kind offer went well beyond the bounds of friendship. To cut a long story short we decided to start with the freebies so for the past week I´ve been hard at work uploading all the zip files to the FTP for Lajuana to retrieve and create download links. In other words I just did the easy donkey work and Lajuana all the difficult stuff and I must say she made it really difficult for herself by creating not just simple links but the most beautiful and original download pages. Here are a few screen shots so that you can see for yourselves how creatively she designed them.
Don´t they look great?

By doing all this work on my behalf Lajuana has had to neglect her other duties so while she catches up on her other work we´ll be leaving the kit links for later. For the time being all my kits are still at 4shared and still available but sometime in the near future we´ll also be making these downloads faster and easier.

In the meantime, I hope you´ll enjoy downloading my freebies and taking a little time in the process to enjoy Lajuana´s unique download pages.

Thank you, Lajuana!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ten Minutes To Spring

One unusually warm day recently I was out in my garden for the first time this year admiring all the spring flowers. The snowdrops looked like silent bells as they swayed in the breeze or maybe they were nodding their heads in approval of the weather. The first daffodils had sprung up in such large clumps I could understand how William Wordsworth must have felt when he wrote:

“ I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.”

Well, it was a stretch of the imagination to picture the lake because our garden doesn´t include one but you know what I mean. There´s something so joyful about suddenly coming upon these harbingers of spring and realising that the long dreary winter is almost over. The tulips won´t be far behind either. I could spot their leaves in every flower bed interspersed with the first few forget-me-nots. I´m particularly looking forward to seeing the frilly ones which we planted a couple of years ago under one of the trees. However, on my way back I was distracted from anticipation of flowers yet to appear by the sight of my quirky “white” rose bush which had already produced a perfect little flower, all white but for one single red petal. I´m so glad that the Red Queen´s little gardeners have survived the winter unscathed! I was also thrilled to see the first new lupins sprouting, a sure sign that summer will eventually come around again.

Then as I left the garden and was walking along the path to the house something stopped me dead in my tracks in amazement and wiped all thoughts of showy spring flowers right out of my head. There, tiny, humble and insignificant growing against all odds in the moss and winter debris between the paving stones, was a bright yellow pansy. The flower was only about an inch in size but I thought it the most beautiful thing I´d seen all day.
Maybe we all occasionally need to be reminded that we should cherish the simple things in life.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

From Time To Time Freebie Alpha

Here´s a rusty alpha which coordinates with From Time To Time and also with many other kits in my store.
You´ll find it HERE. Hope you´ll like it.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Scottish Soldier

With so many Campbells, MacDonalds and Armstrongs in my family tree it´s paradoxical that the the only photo I have of a family member in Highland dress is of my cousin, Brian Roberts, whose surname is not Scottish but originated in England and is very common in Wales where his father came from. However, if he shook his mother´s family tree, enough Scots would fall out to form several Scottish regiments.

Brian joined the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders – an infantry regiment - at the age of 20 when this photo was taken. Unfortunately, it´s in black and white so I´ve shown the regimental tartan he´s wearing underneath an enlargement of the silver badge on his hat. I´ve also shown a photo of the regimental museum which is in Stirling Castle in the “King´s Old Building” so-called because it was originally built in the 1490s as a residence for King James IV of Scotland, the last monarch to be killed in battle. The second photo shows a soldier with the regiment´s mascot, a Shetland Pony called Cruachan. By coincidence, or perhaps not, “Cruachan” was the traditional Gaelic war cry of the Campbells....something worth remembering the next time somebody nips into a parking place I´ve been waiting for or pushes in front of me at the baker´s. Incidentally, a mountain called Ben Cruachan – at 3689 feet - is the highest point in Argyllshire. The bottom photo shows a drum major and a piper dressed in regimental attire.

I find it rather sad that the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders no longer exists. In 2006, along with several other Scottish regiments, it was amalgamated into the Royal Regiment of Scotland. However, each battalion maintains its former regimental Pipes & Drums to carry on the traditions of their antecedent regiments.
I created this page using my latest kit, From Time To Time. If you´d like a freebie QP, you´ll find it HERE. Also, if you´d care to have an alpha which coordinates with the rusty spatters in the kit, watch this space...

Friday, February 14, 2014

From Time To Time

My most recent kit is called From Time To Time because, although it´s an art nouveau influenced kit and therefore suitable for vintage layouts, it also reflects the passing of time by including modern frames and elements along with the more traditional swirls and flourishes. Also, as the name suggests, there are many timepieces in a variety of styles including some unusual steampunk clocks. The colour scheme is mainly various shades of brown and sepia with copper and teal accents which makes it ideally suited for use in combination with Vintage Whimsy and/or Nostalgic Scrapbook which you will also find in the store. As is the case with all my kits, there are no recoloured duplicates included.
If you´d like to have the freebie QP which I created using From Time To Time, you´ll find it HERE.