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.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Coincidence of the Carolling Cats Christmas Card

Those of you who´ve read my earlier post, A Christmas Carol, may remember how I said that my new kit of the same name was triggered off by the cross stitch picture of carol singers I showed you. Well, it seems that the trail of coincidences keeps right on going...

...A couple of days ago I received a charming Christmas card from my cousin´s son, Michael, and was quite amazed by the motif on it which depicted a room full of carolling kitties grouped round a piano complete with a sheet of music. Not only was the subject reminiscent of my new kit and the picture which inspired it but even the night sky glimpsed through the window reminded me irresistibly of one of the background papers included in the kit. As you can imagine, I felt as if I just had to drop everything and create a layout from it. Here it is.

Thank you, Michael, for unwittingly adding to this strange story with The Coincidence Of The Carolling Cats Christmas Card.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Twelve Dogs Of Christmas

Having a hectic run up to Christmas? Feeling stressed out? Got nothing much to laugh about?

When I feel like that I just have to watch Dora´s antics and I feel a whole lot better. So, all of you without a Dotty Dora to cheer you up, take a few minutes from your busy day to lean back, relax and enjoy the 12 short videos which feature the hilarious antics of The Twelve Dogs Of Christmas.

(Make sure you´ve got the sound on.)

There now. Don´t you feel better already?

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Christmas Carol Preview 2

Here´s the second preview of A Christmas Carol. All in all I´m pleased with the way this kit turned out though it was a lot of work and I was really tired by the time I´d finished it. So tired in fact that it wasn´t until I viewed the second preview with fresh eyes the following morning that I noticed something that sent me racing to Photoshop to alter one of the elements. Strange how something that looked like a spatter of sparkling holly berries one day could look so remarkably like a trail of blood the next day, transforming a Christmas kit into something more suitable for Halloween! As you can see it´s now a scattering of glittering blue gems which coordinates nicely not only with the single sapphire shown on the right but also with the jewelled Christmas tree and of course with the many background papers in this kit.

As I´ve said before, it blends in well with Noel Nouveau but with its 16 backgrounds, 41 elements and 10 frames it´s certainly large enough to stand on its own so it´s more a coordinating kit than an add on.

Hope you´ll like what I´ve shown in this second preview.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Christmas Carol Preview 1

Here´s the first of two previews of my newest Christmas kit, A Christmas Carol, parts of which are at present scattered around this blog. As I´ve said before, it arose from a series of coincidences. The fact that it coordinates so well with Noel Nouveau may or may not be a complete fluke. I´m not even sure myself. It could just be that I like the contrasting colour combination of cool snowy blue and warm festive holly berry red and you´ll probably know by now that I love gold and silver too and I´m also a great fan of festive bling. I can´t think of a single kit which lacks a scattering of glittery bits. However, A Christmas Carol is by no means simply an add on kit as it comprises 67 items with no recoloured duplicates so it can well stand on its own. Here´s the first preview. I hope you´ll like it.

Now for some really – to me – exciting news. This kit will be the first to be available in the very near future followed by, among others, my as yet unreleased kits. Well, with the exception of one. I have plans for the exception which I won´t reveal just yet but I hope you´ll all take part in something I have in mind for that particular kit. I´m sorry to seem so secretive about this but it´s still in the planning stages. However, I have done this kind of thing before, and if you think about it for a moment, you may even guess!

I´ll be back soon with the second preview.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Not So Shabby

You may have noticed that my room is looking more chic than shabby at present. Unfortunately, the exact opposite is true of me. I went to bed last night with a scratchy throat and a dry cough which by the wee small hours had developed into a full-blown cold complete with stuffed up nose and aching joints. I got up and wandered about the house for a while groaning and rattling my chains like the ghost of Christmas future then decided to brighten my spirits by brightening my room. It´s now a sort of pre-preview of my latest kit, A Christmas Carol. I´m pleased with its new festive look and I think the doll is too, especially now that she has some company. I´m sure the angel will read her to sleep at night, the robin will wake her in the morning with his song and I think she´ll have to move over soon to make room for the little girl when she arrives with presents to fill her Christmas stocking.

I´m beginning to babble so I´m off back to bed to catch up on my 8 hours of which, so far, I´ve only had about 40 minutes. Hope to be back soon with more previews of A Christmas Carol.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Christmas Carol

I´ve got to tell you about a coincidence which inspired me to create another Christmas kit, something that I hadn´t even considered doing. A couple of nights ago I was suffering from one of my periodic bouts of insomnia and 4 am found me sitting in my workroom sorting through my Christmas cross stitch pictures looking for something to scrap using Noel Nouveau. One of carol singers gave me pause for thought as it suddenly reminded me of a group of three little girls who somehow didn´t manage to charm their way into the kit. As is usual with me, one thing led to another and that picture and the background I made for my recent angels freebie were the basis of an add on kit for Noel Nouveau.

The double frame you can see in my layout I´ve had for quite a while though only in b & w. A vintage gold effect seemed to be called for and when I turned it around and laid it on its side it also accommodated the two smaller companion pieces. I find it amusing that the carol singer on the far left seems to be tilting his head to avoid having it covered by the swirl on that frame. A further coincidence? After that I really felt I was meant to create a kit around that picture and even name the kit after it. No prizes for guessing what I´m going to call it!

Yes, I know I haven´t yet shown the previews of the kit I was working on recently but there´s a reason for that which I won´t divulge just now. Anyway, you´re probably wondering what´s the point in having 5 brand new unreleased kits so I´ll at least tell you that they may all soon be available for sale. I´m just not sure exactly when but you´ll be the first to know so, if you´re interested, watch this space...

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Flight Of Angels

I haven´t been around much lately because I´ve been busy making Christmas cards. I used to find the joy of the festive season was marred by the frantic last minute rush to get all my preparations done so nowadays I make an early start. So far I´ve bought, and in some cases made, all my presents though I´ve only wrapped those which have to be sent abroad, and I sent those off yesterday. Our Christmas tree is up and trimmed and the living room looks particularly festive with all the lights and sparkling dingle dangles though I have to admit to having flaked out for quite a while to recover from that 5 hour marathon. After that there wasn´t very much left to do apart from the cards. I used to make them for practically everyone but that was in the days when I had no Internet access. (Didn´t we all have more time back then!) Nowadays I only make cards for family and friends but always try to make even the bought cards special by making festive stamps and stickers for the envelopes. My favourite motifs are Victorian angels and while I was working on some this morning, I thought that you might like a few to get you in a festive mood so here´s a flight of little angels for you. By the way, these angels also make pretty cards and gift tags, especially with a little additional glitter.

If you´d like this angelic quartet, you´ll find it HERE.

PS I´ll be back before Christmas so I won´t wish you a happy one just yet. I wouldn´t want you to get in a panic thinking of all the work you still have to do before you can sit back and enjoy it! As for me, I´m off to clean my workroom. Even Christmas has its down side...

Friday, November 25, 2011

For Margaret

This page is for my cousin´s wife, Margaret. She liked the first page I made of her daughter´s wedding so much that she asked for a larger version to print and frame. This photo shows Amanda with her father, Neville. Hope you´ll like this one too, Margaret.

I created this page using the – as yet unnamed - kit I´m currently working on. The spatters symbolise champagne bubbles and the tiny ladybird (Am. ladybug) is for luck.

By the way, the outer frame is actually a vintage clock and the floral strip part of a frame.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fall Freebie

There´s very little I like about autumn. I don´t like the night frost which turns my lawn white and blackens my roses. I don´t like the mist which makes everything grey. The only saving grace it has for me is when it turns the leaves to rust and gold so if you feel as I do perhaps you´d like this little fall freebie.

You´ll find it HERE.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Knowing When To Stop

When it comes to restoring old photos I don´t pretend to be an expert. For me it´s been – and still is – a learning process but one important thing I have learned is knowing when to stop. Now that´s the problem with being a perfectionist. I just can´t do things by halves. “Good enough” isn´t even half good enough for me. It´s got to be perfect. Or at least it used to be like that because I´ve learned that perfection can sometimes be not only inappropriate but even bland and boring. Take this photo of my aunt for example...

Its major flaws are obvious. There´s a huge white blotch on her sleeve and in several places like on her skirt and shoe there´s a sepia discolouration which is repeated in the bushes behind her. I managed, with some difficulty, to edit out the blotch by using a combination of the patch and the healing brush tools. Ditto those distracting white cracks on her right. The sepia stains on the skirt and shoe were more difficult until I came up with the idea of making a feathered selection around them, copying them and then adding a colour overlay sampled from the skirt and set to “color”. It took some trial and error to get the colour right but I think that worked out pretty well.

I deliberately left the sepia tinted bushes because I think they give an impression of sunlight which would be missing if I altered the colour. There was a time when I´d have cropped the photo and added a pristine white border but, as I said before, I´m gradually learning that perfection can sometimes be out of place and I think that the original imperfect border reflects the age of the photo. It´s not perfect but it´s good enough. Anyway, here´s the resultant scrapbook page.

As you can see, I´ve cropped the photo but the only further alteration I made to it was by using a warming filter on it to heighten its vintage look. Just one thing I wish I could alter is the coat she´s got bundled up beside her. Uh oh, I haven´t learned my lesson yet. Stop me someone before I reach for the cloning tool!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Making Assumptions

I´m sure that like me you sometimes come across old photos, turn them over and are disappointed to find little or no information about what I think of as the 3 Ws, namely who, where and when. Often we have to make informed guesses based on prior knowledge. For example if we know who the people are we can often guess when the photo was taken by their approximate age at the time or the style of their clothes. Where it was taken can be more difficult unless, for example, it´s on the beach and we know of a favourite family seaside resort. I recently found a photo on the back of which someone had simply written “Luss”. It may sound cryptic but it turned out to be the only clue I needed because from that place name I was able to fill in all of the gaps.

To begin at the beginning, my maternal grandfather started the first bus service in Glasgow driving day trippers from the city to Loch Lomond in the Trossachs, the region between the Scottish Lowlands and the Highlands.

As you can see by clicking on the map, the town of Luss is on the west bank of the loch. The fact that my grandpa is wearing a bus driver´s uniform in the photo tells me that this was obviously a business trip. Apart from that, the 5 people in the photo are split into 2 distinct groups with my grandparents and my mother on the right and an unknown lady and a girl on the left. I can assume from this that the 2 unknowns were passengers on the bus and the photo was very likely taken by the lady´s other companion, maybe her husband. Finally, from the approximate age of my mother, I can guess that the date was 1926.

I created this page using a background and some elements which may eventually morph into a kit. As you can see, the original photo, which I´ve tucked under the frame, is faded and rather blotchy. However, I did a little restoration work on the family group by removing the worst of the blots and scratches and I also heightened the contrast. I´m quite pleased with the way it looks now that I´ve cropped it...just as if it was meant to fit into that frame! I may also create a page sometime using the unknown lady and her daughter(?) She´s so stylishly dressed in the latest fashion - at a time when ladies thought nothing of hanging dead animals around their necks - and the girl is holding a doll which is also wearing a 1920s costume complete with a dropped waistline and a cloche hat. What a treasure this photo turned out to be!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy(?) Halloween

It´s that time again of “ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties, and things that go bump in the night.” That quote is part of a Celtic prayer and is particularly suitable for Halloween, when according to ancient Celtic tradition, the dead walk again with malicious intent. Halloween originated in Scotland and we Scots still take our Halloween seriously. No friendly smiling ghosts and harmless leering pumpkins for us. After all, it was a grim festival with blood-curdling ceremonies. I won´t tell you what the “trick” was but leave it mercifully shrouded in the mists of time, and I certainly won´t divulge what the “treat” consisted of. I wouldn´t want to entirely spoil the day for you and make you shudder as you hand out the candy.

My husband just missed being born on Halloween by one day so I always include something slightly macabre among his presents. Yesterday he got a very trendy dog-walking jacket – nothing sinister about that - and a giant-sized lighter with this motif on it, the next best thing to having it tattooed on his biceps...

Dora, who plays absolutely no part in any of this foolishness, would be mad at me if she knew about the gruesome looking image below which shows her in an unusually unflattering light. She hates having her photo taken anyway but especially first thing in the morning before she´s fixed her face...but then don´t we all?

Having played such a nasty trick on her maybe I´d better get off now and give her a treat.

Happy(?) Halloween!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hearse And Horses

You´ll probably have guessed by now that I love prowling around art galleries and museums. One of my favourites has always been The Transport Museum. It used to be situated directly across the road from the Glasgow Art Galleries but has recently been renamed The Riverside Museum and moved to a new and much grander building in Clydebank, an aptly named suburb of Glasgow situated on the banks of the River Clyde.

One of the new attractions isn´t in the museum itself but floating on the river right next to it. This is The Glenlee, the so-called Tall Ship, a sailing ship built in Port Glasgow in 1896 and restored over a 6 year period to its former glory. If you´re interested, you can read about it HERE.

My favourite attraction in the old museum was the indoor reconstruction of a 1930´s Glasgow street complete with a painted night sky which gave it an amazingly realistic appearance. Looking into the lighted shop windows was like stepping back in time. It also included a cinema where you could watch films about the town in that era, and when you walked past the old pub you could hear laughter and fragments of conversation from inside. The new museum also has a street from the same era but, unlike its predecessor, unfortunately it leaves very little to the imagination as you can actually enter the “buildings” and view all the goods on display inside. Gone is the painted sky along with the magic. The fact that it leads directly into a brightly lit exhibition hall destroys any sense of reality the street used to have. On the day Eileen and I visited it the street was absolutely packed with tourists and probably an entire bus party or two which made it incredibly difficult to take any photos which didn´t include someone wearing a tee shirt and jeans. However, I found this photo on the Web which shows it under ideal conditions. See what I mean about the sky? Or lack of it?

It may have lost a lot of its magic for those of us who used to love its former – and much less frequented - self. However, what it does now have is a variety of vehicles parked at its kerbs, including a baker´s van, a car which Al Capone would have been proud of...

...and, rather surprisingly, a horse drawn hearse.

Now this is just a little bit spooky but I´m sure you´ll agree that, with Halloween approaching, it´s quite appropriate. And how about that sinister headless dummy in the dress shop window behind it!

The photo really ought to speak for itself so I´ve just used a few elements from Golden Memories to pick out the gold in it.

And for those of you who missed the kit freebies first time around, you´ll find them HERE.

Which reminds me, I´ll soon - probably some time in November - be making some radical changes to my blog which I´m afraid will entail removing many of my out-of-date freebies to make way for something I´d rather surprise you with than divulge (!) so if there´s anything among them which you´d like to have, please take it now while it´s still available.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Machetes And Music

If I´ve been MIA for a while it´s because for the past week or so I´ve been hacking a path with my machete through the tangled undergrowth from the bottom of my garden to the house. Well, maybe that´s a slight exaggeration though it felt like it at the time. I´ve actually been taking advantage of a spell of bright autumn weather by trimming and pruning all the climbing plants which got madly out of control during the summer. The wild hops were the worst offenders. They´re very sociable plants and had visited all their more reserved and cultivated cousins like the clematis and the honeysuckle and had outstayed their welcome just about everywhere they went. Even the grapevine which lives some distance away wasn´t safe from them. Everyone, including me, was relieved once I´d cut them down to size. They won´t be encroaching on anyone´s territory again until next spring. It looks as if I won´t either as I managed to pull a muscle while trying to disentangle a particularly stubborn shoot just beyond my reach and I´ll probably spend most of my time indoors until I can move again without wincing.

With all that gardening activity I haven´t had the time or the inclination to sort out more than a few of the photos I took in Glasgow in September. One particularly memorable day I spent with my friend, Eileen, in the Kelvingrove Art Galleries, one of my favourite haunts. The building alone is a wonderful example of Victorian architecture, both outside....

...and inside.

This is a view of the minstrels´ gallery.

Every afternoon at 1 o’clock an organ recital is held there. It´s hard to imagine the grandeur of the occasion but this - ever so slightly embellished - page may at least give you an impression of the magnificence and scale of the minstrels´gallery.

I found this video at You Tube. It doesn´t do the music the justice it deserves – it´s something you have to hear live - but it does at least give an indication of the splendour of the main reception hall and I´m sure your imagination will fill in the gaps.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Fanfare Of Trumpets

When I bought my angel´s trumpet plant last summer it was only about 12” tall and had 5 leaves which it shed during its winter hibernation on my bedroom window sill and regained in the spring. This summer, after having been transplanted into a larger pot, it grew to an amazing 8 feet and produced masses of leaves but only 2 flowers. That was in mid-September and so late in the flowering season that I assumed that this was its swan song before dying back for the winter. When I got back from Scotland I was astonished to see that it was laden down with flowers and courgette-like buds which you can see in the larger photo. In the smaller one you can see a bud which is just about to open.

Click on image to enlarge

Today on a damp, dark and dreary October morning, when I look out onto my rain-washed patio and see those bright splashes of colour, I can almost hear a fanfare of trumpets.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Time Warp AGAIN!

Well, I´m back and I had a really great trip – I´ll post some pics sometime to prove it - though memories of sublime Scotland have been superseded by the ridiculous, outrageous and thoroughly entertaining madness of the

Since we last saw it in 2009 both the choreography and most of the cast have changed but I´m glad to say that Rob Fowler is still playing the part of Frank N Furter as magnificently as ever. Here´s a video of his 2009 performance of Sweet Transvestite which I downloaded from You Tube. You´ll have to excuse the quality. I´ve never even attempted to make a video of the show myself but I can imagine how difficult it must be. Still, even the most professional video couldn´t begin to compare with the atmosphere of the live show.

This is a collage (more HERE ) I put together using images from the new version of the show we saw at the weekend. It includes cry-baby Columbia, test tube Rocky, the larger than life Frank N Furter and the completely out of their depth Brad and Janet. The most difficult part of this was literally giving Rocky a hand, his right hand to be exact, which in the original photo was hidden behind a curtain. Either that or Frank N Furter designed a man with a missing part...but we won´t go into that!

Click on image to enlarge

And finally, no performance of The Rocky Horror Show would be complete without its most famous number so let´s turn the music up deafeningly loud, get on those ripped fishnet stockings and do The Time Warp again.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Off On Monday

Well, I´ve just about finished packing. At least with the baggage restrictions I won´t have to even consider taking the kitchen sink with me this time. With the 20 kilo allowance it´s difficult enough already to decide what´s essential and what I can reluctantly leave behind.

I´m really looking forward to being in Scotland again for a few weeks and visiting all my old haunts in Glasgow, or at least those that still remain. I know the art school is still standing and our beautiful Kelvingrove Park with its Victorian museum and art galleries hasn´t changed much. Neither has Sauchiehall Street, my favourite shopping centre. With all the places I have to revisit I´ll need to have my shoes resoled when I get back.

And that reminds me that I have something else to look forward to shortly after my return which will take the edge off my homesickness.

Here´s a clue.

I won´t have to take much with me for THAT. Just my camera and maybe a pair of ripped fishnet stockings...for my husband.

See you soon.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Words Of Wisdom...And Otherwise

I don´t know about you but I can relate to many of these:

Before you marry Mr Right be sure that his first name isn´t Always.

If at first you don´t succeed, do it the way your wife told you to.

Men are like chocolates. Wait too long and only the weird or nutty ones are left.

A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.

Chocolate will make your clothes shrink.

If God had wanted me to touch my toes, he´d have put them on my knees.

If crafts became illegal my house would be the tidiest in the world.

See any dust? Then I´ll give you a duster.

Never make the same mistake twice or you´ll never get round to all of them.

Of course I don´t look busy. I did it right first time.

A perfect summer day is when the sun´s shining, the birds are singing and the lawnmower is broken.

And finally...

The above is a picture I stitched for a friend. If you´d like the rusty clip I used, you´ll find it and some other pretty shabby freebies HERE.

PS This is more a definition than a saying but I couldn´t resist including it: onomatopoeia – first sign of a weak bladder.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Paisley Doodles

All the doodling that´s been going on around the blogs lately, initiated by Deb and continued by Jean, reminded me that I used to do quite a bit of doodling myself a while ago. Not in pen and ink and not on paper but in embroidery thread and on canvas. It wasn´t random doodling but was restricted to variations on the Paisley pattern. I didn´t exactly make it up as I went along but drew out rough guides to follow – or not as the mood took me – as you can see from the main photo, well, scan actually. That one is in cross stitch and is unfinished and still without the backstitched details but the one on the left hand page of the book is a part of an embroidered cushion I completed.

I created this page using Pretty Shabby which includes its own little Paisley doodle. For those of you who missed the freebies first time around, I´ll be posting them before I leave for Scotland later this month. One of my friends lives in Paisley. Maybe I´ll drop by and get enough inspiration from the town the pattern was named after to actually complete my picture.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tea And Sympathy

You´ll probably think that the changes I´ve made to my room are a little premature. I mean who needs a fire and a comfortable old armchair and a hot cup of tea in August? ME, that´s who! It may still be August and technically summer but hereabouts it´s more like October. As if that wasn´t bad enough, I´ve got a rotten cold. It started in my head and during the past week it´s done the grand tour of my body and has finally settled in my chest. I´ve lost my voice entirely but with the barking cough I have I can at least still communicate with Dora. Goodness knows what she thinks I´m trying to say though as she´s just flashed me an indignant look and stalked out of the room so I think I´d better have another dose of cough syrup before I offend her any further.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, a little sympathy would be nice. A cup of tea would be even nicer though so I´m off now to unceremoniously tip the doll out of the armchair, put my feet up in front of that blazing fire and hope that the cup contains something a lot more appetising than the foul herbal brew I´ve been forcing down for the past week. Then, after that, I´ll blow out the candle and toddle off to bed.

See you all soon...I hope.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Floral Gold

With summer already waning and autumn fast approaching, I thought you might like a little freebie which combines the flowers of summer with the textured gold of autumn. Let´s hope it´ll keep the chilly silver of winter at bay for a few months.

You´ll find this golden freebie HERE.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Simply Serene

At Lajuana´s suggestion, I´d originally intended to name this new kit after the first page I posted using it. But, as is so often the case with my kits, it soon took on a life of its own and changed from being a kit you could sink your teeth into to something a little more brittle than juicy. I mean just imagine biting into the diamond glitter or that crunchy sapphire and you´ll see what I mean! Then I remembered a comment that Jean made about my succulent page, namely that it looked serene. So Jean, who said of herself, “I'm dreadful with naming, so have to leave that to others.” actually helped to name this kit.

Still, what´s in a name? Is it succulent or serene or something else entirely? Judge for yourself.

Click on images for larger previews

Friday, August 19, 2011

In A Victorian Garden

This photo courtesy of my fourth cousin, Kathy, shows her great-great grandfather, John Inglis (brother of my own great-great grandfather) and his wife, Agnes, in formal pose in their equally formal Victorian garden.

Click on image to enlarge

I´ve noticed that many photos from that era show the husband standing behind his seated wife and it´s repeated in the photo of the same couple which I´ve tucked behind the frame. I can think of several possible reasons for this. Perhaps to show the ascendancy of the husband over his wife? After all, women had few rights during that period and the man was definitely the boss in every respect. Or maybe, more kindly, to show protectiveness towards feminine frailty? My own personal theory is that poor Agnes, constricted by her stays and whalebone corset, would have been unable to stand still for long enough to have her photo taken without collapsing with a fit of the vapours and having to be revived by smelling salts.

Under the circumstances, I know I would!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dandegolds And Marilions

Deb´s recent tongue-in-cheek (I hope!) depiction of a marigold eating monster reminded me of my own personal marigold monster.

When we moved house a few years ago, one look at the garden was enough to tell me that if I couldn´t see down to the bottom of it without binoculars there was no way my back would bear up if I had to do the weeding. I had some reservations about delegating that task to Herbert who could just about tell the difference between a daffodil and a rose and only then with the help of a gardening book, so before entrusting the tools of destruction to him, I said, “DON´T PULL UP ANYTHING YOU CAN´T IDENTIFY!” and left him to it. Some time later I started to notice that the very minute my beloved marigolds began to bloom they mysteriously disappeared. I imagined a huge battalion of snails munching their way through them every night so I liberally sprinkled snail pellets around those that remained. And still they diminished. Then, by sheer chance I happened to look in the compost bin one day and was horrified to find a sad wilting heap of marigolds right on top. Confronted with the evidence, the Marigold Murderer looked shocked, shifty and uncertain then rallied quickly and said it must have been Dora. Now, Dora as a puppy was a keen little gardener but she was never quite clever enough to hide the results of her work in any compost bin and she certainly never left anything with its roots still attached. The MM´s second line of defence was to insist that he´d never ever weeded out anything he couldn´t identify and that even he knew a dandelion when he saw one. AHA! Case for the prosecution solved but not quite closed...Time passed and just as the MM thought that all was forgiven and forgotten he received this birthday card.

Click image for a larger view

Would you believe he had the brass neck to actually find it amusing? Even the fact that I´d added years to him by depicting him as a crazed and leering demented senile senior citizen didn´t bother him at all and he even hung it triumphantly inside the door of the garden shed as if it had been his finest hour! I wonder what it would take to make him feel humbled and guilty.


This page maybe?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Dora In Action

I was sorting through the photos I took in Domburg recently when it occurred to me that, apart from the video, I´d also taken several consecutive photos of Dora in hot pursuit of her cork toy. Taken singly they don´t look that interesting but blended into one I think they give quite a good impression of Dora in action.
Click on image for a larger view
I used the Marbled Blue background from Jewelled Sea on top of a few grungy layers, blended in the 3 photos and then, once I´d flattened the image, I lowered the saturation quite a bit. As you can see there was a LOT of splashing going on there – one good reason to stand well back when Dora takes off! - and I´ve heightened the effect by using the Paint Daubs filter. It was a lot of work and entailed a great deal of trial and error but I´m quite pleased with the way this composite has turned out.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Sorry it´s taken such a long time to get around to posting the Nouveau Summer freebies. Here they are at last.

As you can see, there´s a poppy, an anemone and a hibiscus. The ladybird (Am. ladybug) was an afterthought inspired by Lajuana´s own little dancing ladybird which you can see among her CT layouts or HERE on her blog.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Diamond Glitter

This is my cousin´s daughter, Amanda, looking lovely on her wedding day. Her dress and bouquet are simply beautiful but I was particularly struck by the wonderful tiara she´s wearing which explains why I may have gone a tiny bit overboard with the diamond glitter in this LO.

Click on image to enlarge

I created this page using the kit I´m currently working on which includes lots of glitter and sparkle, gold and silver with the usual sprinkling of jewels and precious stones. Preview coming soon...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

An Alien In My Living Room

Don´t ask me why but I seem to be attracted to strange, eccentric and even alien looking house plants, my Whoopi plant for example. Well, nothing could be more strange, eccentric and alien looking than this weird and wonderful example of exotic insect eating flora which caught my eye and called my name in a Dutch garden centre last week. I couldn´t resist it and it´s now taken up residence in my living room much to the horror of my more conventional plants. Well, the ferns and orchids and co will just have to get used to it because, like it or not, it´s here to stay.

I´m not so sure about me though.

There´s an old movie where alien pods drop from outer space, hide themselves in closets and under beds and gradually morph into copies of the unfortunate and unsuspecting householder who harbours them. If you don´t hear from me for a while or something vaguely plant-like suddenly appears on this blog masquerading as yours truly and offering you insects as freebies, assume the worst...

I created this page using the kit I´ve been working on recently. I´ll post the preview as soon as it´s finished...assuming of course that the alien doesn´t take over before then.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Oh My Ears And Whiskers, How Late It´s Getting!

Uhoh. It looks as if Alice has decided on the daisy chain after all. Let´s hope she doesn´t get so engrossed in it that she fails to spot the white rabbit and misses out on her great adventure.

Click on image for a larger view

I created this page using the wild flower meadow background and a few embellishments from Nouveau Summer. Alice is my niece, Christiane, and the white rabbit is one of John Tenniel´s beautiful b & w illustrations recoloured.

Kit freebies coming soon.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Doggy Paddling

All the interesting and creative artwork Deb´s been showing us on her blog recently reminded me that I used to have far more time for drawing and painting. Unfortunately, most of my work was either sold or given away and I kept no record of it. Some of it though was done solely for myself. I created this one after the death of Cara, one of Dora´s predecessors. It´s from a photo and shows her paddling with her Doberman friends in a small lake near where we live. I made two versions. This one is just a sketch.

The other is more detailed and realistic than most of my artwork because I wanted to capture Cara´s lovely brindle and the wonderful sheen on her doggy friends´ coats.

The only reason I could find these so easily was because they´re the only ones I´ve framed and they stand among my other boxer memorabilia in my workroom. I´ll need to hunt to find some of my other work which hasn´t seen the light of day for a long time. If I can´t find anything I may just follow Deb´s lead and create something new.

Thanks, Deb, for reminding me that there´s more to art than designing digital scrapbook kits.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Simply Succulent

I love succulents, especially sedum, and have many different varieties in my garden and in various pots around my patio. Some have big leaves and some small, and the really tiny ones spread out rapidly until they form an uneven ragged carpet around my flowers and help to keep weeds at bay. They produce flowers of their own, from very small to quite spectacularly large, but even when they´re not flowering I think they´re very pretty and decorative.

I created this fairly simple page in celebration of the uncomplicated sedum using the floral kit I´m currently working on. It´s mainly in cool shades of aqua and various warm brown tones from dark to beige, plus gold and silver and with my usual scattering of jewels. There are also some semi-transparent frosted glass and gold glitter items like the bird which I particularly like myself so I´ve used the same style for the title. Which reminds me, the kit isn´t named yet and suggestions will be welcome. Hope you´ll like it when I finally get around to posting the preview.

PS It´s just occurred to me that the bird seems to be looking at the strange nest and its equally strange occupants and wondering who laid those eggs! And that in turn reminds me of a silly joke...What did the baby bird say when it saw an orange in its nest? Orange marmalade.

Well I did warn you it was silly!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Whole Truth!

I was just thinking that those of you who haven´t managed a summer break this year will probably be madly envious of me after watching the video and viewing my beach page both of which make my stay in Domburg appear idyllic. However, appearances can be deceptive, and in my case selective, and I feel guilty about misleading you so here´s the whole truth as it appears in various emails to friends....

We had a great holiday. Well, partly. It was mostly sunny and breezy though the weather was freaky at both ends. Herbert arrived with Dora on the first Sunday right at the start of a horrendous heatwave. It was well over 30°C and humid too which is very unusual at the coast. I left the beach soon after he arrived leaving him to play with Dora and I actually got blisters on the soles of my feet from walking barefoot on the hot sand between our beach shelter and the board-walk. The following day was more of the same. Herbert left on Tuesday - as he did every week - and the weather finally broke in the afternoon and we had some rain, after which the temperature went down to the tolerable low 20s with mostly sun and stayed like that until the Thursday of our final week. That day was sheer horror for both Dora and myself. It rained in torrents all day. Never let up, never stopped. It was accompanied by gale force 8 winds. In case you don´t know how bad that is it´s the kind of wind which makes seagulls fly backwards and almost sweeps people and dogs off their feet. It also makes every raindrop feel like a needle piercing your skin and makes your mascara run and drip off your chin. As if that combination wasn´t bad enough there were thunderstorms all day too, either directly overhead or in the near distance. Very scary and very dangerous to be out in. I only went out to let Dora relieve herself and got drenched to the skin each time. Even my expensive rain jacket and trousers got soaked through and my shoes were like wet cardboard. I had to change my socks 5 times and since I´d already given H most of my clothes to take back I actually ran out of dry socks and had to resort to retrieving some from my laundry bag. They weren´t actually dirty as I´d only worn them to the beach and back but they were stained brown from the sand but anything´s better than going sockless in wet shoes. After I ran out of those I had to find a way of drying them. I eventually came up with a solution which dried my socks and also kept us both warm (it was only 13°C and not much warmer indoors) which involved suspending my sock dryer over the four gas flames of the cooker by hooking it onto the pouch at the front of my sandwich box.

How´s that for ingenuity? Desperation? (and, before you ask, no, I won´t be scrapping that photo!) I attempted unsuccessfully to dry my jacket and trousers after each outing using my hair dryer and I used the newspaper H had left to stuff into my shoes. I had lots of sandals with me but only 2 pairs of shoes and one pair had to be kept dry for the journey home. If we´d been at home this kind of situation wouldn´t have been a problem but in a small cottage with limited facilities and few waterproof clothes...need I say more? Dora was really fed up and kept looking at me expectantly as if to say Are we going to the beach soon? Every time she got up and went to the door I opened it and we were both immediately engulfed in water and driven back a few steps by the wind. I said On you go then and she gave me a resentful look and went back to her rug. I felt really guilty. I´m sure she thought it was all my fault and I could conjure up sunshine if I really wanted to. Anyway, that day after I got bored with reading I numbed my mind by watching Nat Geo practically nonstop and learned more than I ever wanted to know about the US prison system/how not to smuggle drugs through customs unless you want to be caught/dog training/the causes of air crashes and lots more. I was glad after I´d taken DD out for her last toilet break and finally got into bed. Next morning I awoke to a clear blue sky, 22°C and a nice little breeze. Perfect! When we left the next day it was showery but cleared up as we approached the German border. In fact it was so hot and sultry that Dora started panting so badly I stopped at a service station and got her some water...at which she turned up her nose. She´s so contrary sometimes. The only thing I could do for both of us was to turn up the ventilator which is noisy but even if it doesn´t do much more than fill the car with hot outside air at least it´s loud enough to drown out the panting from the back seat. Once we got off the motorway and close to home I drove to one of her familiar walks and she brightened up, then we got back into the car and she was OK again. Sometimes I think that the panting has less to do with the heat than with stress. She doesn´t like the car and far prefers her kennel in the bus. We´ve since decided that in future we´ll all drive to Domburg and back in the bus. It´ll mean missing one day of my holiday as Herbert is busy on Saturdays but that´s OK. He´ll have to get up really early for the journey home but he says he doesn´t mind. I´m relieved about that, not only for Dora but for me as I hate driving in the Netherlands. Something frightening happens every year but I´ll spare you this year´s narrow escape. I´d just like to say - between clenched teeth - to all you folk who tow caravans (Am. trailers) please try to remember that a) you´re driving a long vehicle and b) If there´s a woman in a red Mazda already in the overtaking lane, it´s quite a good idea to signal your intention to overtake the vehicle she´s overtaking BEFORE you start, not when you´re halfway out. Almost forgot...and c) When she´s recovered from the heart attack you caused her and managed, by leaning on the horn for 20 seconds, to get you to go back to where you belong before you made a large dent in both her and her car DO NOT FLASH YOUR LIGHTS AT HER, you old fool. Get some driving lessons, pass a driving test, get a valid driving licence and throw away the one you found at the bottom of a cereal packet back in 1955.

Don´t you just love having a good rant?

Well, that was the whole truth about our holiday. You can fill in all the pleasant gaps yourself...Dora´s fun on the beach, Herbert´s fun with her, my fun with her, my fun at the weekly market etc. Nothing much changes each year although the strange weather this summer was a nasty surprise. The incident on the motorway was also nasty but no surprise.

Still envious?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dog Days In Domburg

The reason I always spend my summer holiday in Domburg is because not only is it just a 3-hour drive from here but also because I can take Dora with me. I´ve always had a dog and every one of them has accompanied me there and probably enjoyed the beach even more than I do myself though I have to say that of all the boxers I´ve had Dora is the only one who enjoys swimming. Like the others though she also loves chasing her ball along the shore, hiding it in the dunes, rearranging the sand and apparently trying to dig to Australia just to see if Bondi Beach might be a fun place too.

click to enlarge

I created this page using only the seashell freebie plus photos of Dora doing what Dora loves to do during her dog days in Domburg.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dora On Baywatch

Presenting the new improved Baywatch series starring Fedora von Messingsberg, the ultimate canine lifeguard. Watch with bated breath as Dora plunges valiantly into the North Sea with no thought for her own safety to rescue a precious cork toy. Admire her grace, brindle beauty and elegant doggy paddling swimming technique as she battles the elements to deliver it safely to the shore...

...where, in typical Dotty Dora style, she immediately begins to tear it apart!

(Sorry about the sound quality. This is the only camera I have that doesn´t mind being drenched by Dora shaking the North Sea from her fur.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

She Sells - or gives away - Seashells

Since I got back from Domburg on Saturday, I´ve shaken the sand out of my shoes and my luggage, washed it out of my pores, my hair, my clothes and my dog...and I´m still finding gritty traces of the seashore on my floors. I had a wonderful 3 weeks on the coast but it´s nice to be home again and to be able to eat a sandwich without any sand in it.

But now comes the inevitable part of any carefree laundryfree holiday. You´ve guessed it. The dreaded IRONING. I´m off to tackle that mind-numbing task right now but before I go, for all you folk who haven´t managed a trip to the coast this year or for those who have and would like a few extra decorative elements for your seaside pages, here´s a little freebie for you.

If you´d like this Jewelled Sea add on, you´ll find it HERE.

Wish I had time to use it myself but a huge pile of wrinkled laundry is calling my name...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Everything But The Kitchen Sink

I´ll be off to the coast in just a few days and I´m busy packing right now. It´s so difficult to make up my mind about what to take and what to leave but I´ve finally narrowed it down by deciding that I don´t need the kitchen sink. If I change my mind my husband can bring it the following day along with Dora . I don´t trust the weather forecast which promises warm but not scorching temperatures so I´m glad I won´t have to run the risk of transporting Dora in a 4-wheel sauna. She´ll be a lot happier – and cooler - in her kennel in our bus.

Before I go I´ll give you the link to this little seahorse which coordinates with Jewelled Sea. If you´d like it, you´ll find it HERE.

Have a wonderful summer!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Perfect Match

I was taking some photos of the new lilies we planted in the spring, which had just started to bloom, when this little hover fly landed on one and I couldn´t help noticing how well he matched the stamens on the flower.

The moment I viewed this photo I was irresistibly reminded of one of Jean´s recent pages which I´d admired that very morning. Thanks for the inspiration, Jean!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Long Ago And Far Away

What I miss most about Scotland is something I took for granted while I was living there, namely my close proximity to the sea. No matter where I´ve lived in my homeland I´ve always been close to either the Atlantic Ocean in the west or the North Sea in the east.

It seems almost inevitable that every move we´ve made within Germany has brought me a little closer to the coast...and to home. Now we´re living right on the Dutch border and at last I´m able to spend part of each summer in one of my favourite North Sea resorts on the Zeeland peninsula which is only a 3-hour journey from here.

This photo was taken on a deserted beach in the far north of Scotland when I was 19. To me this page expresses how I feel about those days which now seem so long ago and far away when I still took the sea - and my youth - for granted.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

No Dogs Allowed

I was strolling along the beach in Domburg when I saw this row of newly built, as yet unoccupied, cabins looking quite surreal against a dark stormy sky. My first thought was what fun it would be to leap out of bed in the morning and run straight into the sea. My second thought was they were so close together it might not be such fun if the people on either side stayed up until the wee small hours partying every night. As it transpired, there was no decision to be made anyway when I discovered that dogs were not welcome but I really don´t care. The small cottage I rent every year where dogs are allowed has its own secluded patio and no close neighbours and is only 10 minutes from the dog beach. We´ll be going there in just a few weeks and I´m looking forward to sun, sea and peaceful relaxing evenings.

As you can see, I´ve altered the photo quite a bit by removing everything but the cabins themselves and changing their colour. In place of the sky, sand and sea I´ve used backgrounds from Jewelled Sea. As a protest I´ve included Dora and I´m sure that she wouldn´t mind a bit if that lobster dragged those dog-free cabins into the North Sea...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Golden Evening

I was looking through my holiday photos recently when I came upon this golden North Sea scene captured a couple of years ago in Domburg, a small Dutch town on the Zeeland peninsula.

During the long sunny days of summer the beach throngs with sun bathers and joggers while children splash and shout in the shallows, but as the sun goes down and the beach is left mainly to the seagulls, it takes on a serene magical beauty.

I created this page using Jewelled Sea which you´ll find HERE along with a couple of kit freebies.