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, 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.