Sunday, 27 February 2011

Am I my Mothers daughter ?

My mothers friends used to call her Hyacinth Bucket after the character in Keeping up appearances.

How weird is it that when I was telling a friend we were off to buy a couple of sofas from Harrods. She said it reminded her of the episode where Hyacinth took delivery of a new 3 piece suite from a prestigious store. She wanted to make sure all the neighbours were aware of the delivery.

I joked with her that I doubted it would come in one of their famous green vans. It would surely come direct from the manufacturer. But I asked when we ordered the sofas, and it would seem a Harrods van will make the delivery.

So is it too Hyacinth of me to advice the police that my delivery may make the road outside my house hazardous and that maybe it would be a good idea to stop the traffic. And should I contact The Comet local paper so they could get a shot of the occasion????

The truth is, we purchased the sofas from Harrods, not because it would be good bragging material. But because, believe it or not, it was the cheapest place !!!

We found their customer advice was second to none. In buying the sofas from them we saved £2,800 !!!! Then they talked me out of having the cushions made in the designer fabrics I had chosen. It would have added an extra £1000+ to the reduced price. She showed me some silks that could be made up for free. Then I could buy the designer fabrics myself, and get them made up much cheaper. I mean that is service.

I was fully prepared to part with the full sum of money. But I came away feeling I had got the right product  for me and there knowledge was second to none.

She even made a note for the factory to fill my back cushions with extra feathers so they can support my back better. The salesman who we had initially dealt with, rang us today to thank us for mentioning how pleased we were with his service.

So while I may appear to be a Hyacinth Bucket, I am actually just very shrewd and do my homework before buying something.

Its funny how because I am so tight, I turn out to seem extravagant ?

The funniest thing about yesterday was we were virtually skipping back to the car, because of the money we’d saved.

But we returned to the car to find this.

2011 feb 27th

Hubby had put our parking ticket on the dashboard upside down……

All I'm, saying is, I‘m glad it wasn’t me……….

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Week 7- Project Life

The last week has seen my nights being very disrupted. Take last night I was woken at 1am and read the paper online and checked my emails. I went back to sleep after my medication hit, and then I was dismayed to find out it was only 4.30am when the pain hit again. As I couldn’t take anymore medication I got up. So it’s been a long day.

The pain might be linked to my Pilates workout. I suffered on the long car journey and was in a lot of pain when I arrived. This worried Teejay-a lot- So he stretched some deep muscles and I felt a lot better. I was then put on the reformer and left to do more stretches. Next week I have decided it might be best to let him to do a full muscle release treatment on me instead. I nearly choked when I just saw how much its going to cost me!

Anyway, it’s only money, you can’t take it with you. ( choke, choke)

Back to Project Life.

Here are my pages from last week.



and a long journaler insert of Tasmin in her uniform.


Not only, have I been buying these and these to add to my album. I haven’t been able to resist some of Ali Edwards little finishing touches. I’ve purchased these photography inspired words, handwritten days & months and  some photo overlays. It seems that each week she uses another one of her products on her Project Life. She makes them look so tempting, she’s very clever. On week six she used some long journalers, and the next thing I knew I had bought them ??? God knows what I will have bought by the end of the year.

This lady has inspired me the most doing this project. Her photography  is awesome. However by the end of 2010 she had filled 3 albums !!!

Monday, 21 February 2011

How quick the weeks go

I am already in week 8 of Project Life….

I couldn’t take pics to share the album, today it was soooo dark, so I’ll try tomorrow.

I love how this project shows how life can change in just one week. There are always surprises around the corner.

I have been back to the Centre to work with the young mums group. Sadly this week there was lots of illness and so we were thin on the ground. But I had been looking forward to this session, unlike the last one, I felt I was now in my comfort zone.

I was asked to take some pictures of babies/mums or mums-to-be and teach the group how to make a scrapbook layout. I was very lucky as Anna and Sandra donated some stash for me to work with. I also raided my cupboard and then put lots of kits together to make it easier for the girls to choose.


One of the girls was a pleasure to work with. Her baby was just 17 days old. She absolutely loved making the layout and after me and the midwife faffed around with the photo printer, for what seemed like hours. She left happy with a couple of images I had captured and her layout.


She was more then happy for me to share these with you all.


The centre was so pleased they have asked me to work there on a regular basis. Its weird how life changes in the ways you least expect. I am glad I have Project Life to document all the changes as they happen.


We have a new small bird table in the garden. Tasmin bought it for her dad for his birthday. Well today. the birds have finally discovered it. It was like a Mc Donald's. There were queues for the drive through. Some were eating in the restaurant. At one point there were 7 doves and a pigeon. I think we may need a larger one. Plus, I can't keep up with the bird seed. They are real pigs. They seem to have bottomless stomachs.

2010 Feb birds

I popped into Scrap Revolution today as I seem to have mislaid my distresser tool. Of course I picked up some other bits, as well and Lorraine has kindly said she will donate some plain card for the centre.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Project Life Week six

I can’t believe I am already in week 7 of Project Life. Its amazing how your life can change in just a week.

Here is my week 6 Project Life.



I have noticed a big improvement in the colour of my images since I calibrated my monitor. I took the advice of this blog and went and purchased what he recommended. Whist £80+ is a lot of money just to get the colour right, I have found it has taken the guesswork out of editing my images. I have stopped using my laptop to edit photos and I have hooked it up instead to a stationery monitor. Its the monitor that I have calibrated.  You can see a massive difference between the two.


2011 feb 17 monitor

My laptop is the top image ,slightly distorted because its reset to the monitor size.

My Canon printer has been printing good representations of what I see on the monitor, but as yet I haven’t printed any images from an outside source. I have the ICC profile of the printer at my local Costco, but I haven’t a clue how to set my computer up with it. I am VERY computer unsavvy, so its one step at a time for me.

I have been trying all week to load some actions into my PS Elements software, but I just can’t get it right. Its getting very tempting to get full Photoshop where I understand its a doddle to load actions.  With actions, you just click on them in Photoshop and they do all the editing for you, you then just do some adjustments to your taste. These are widely used by the professional bloggers whose images you view.

Here are some examples of some images I have edited since calibration.

2011 Feb 9th

2011 Feb Tasmins first day at dentists

It was interesting to discover that most of my images straight out of camera were almost spot on colour wise, when I had set a custom white balance. I use a grey card I purchased during Karen Russell's workshop.

I could never tell on my monitor previously, as it greys out the images.

Talking of Karen’s workshop. She asked if any of her old students would make comments about the workshop and in doing so we would be entered into a giveaway to win another workshop. I did indeed make a comment.

Fullscreen capture 17022011 114124.bmp

I made a warning that any students on the course would end up parting with a LOT of cash in the long run. I mean even now I am thinking I NEED full Photoshop CS5, Adobe lightroom and an expo disc, a 85mm Canon lens and the shopping list goes on……………………

and on………………………………….



I always used to wake last year and smile and think my life is perfect. I appreciated everything I had and thought things couldn’t get any better. But as anyone knows you start to think its too good to be true, something bad is going to happen to spoil it.

It was weird because it wasn’t until about November after suffering for 6 months in pain that I thought, ah, this is it now. Your perfect life has ended. Then Tasmin, unexpectedly left University, at the worst time for youngsters to get employment in this country. I thought she was going to be another unemployment statistic.

I thought, see your life has come to an end……….

But, Tasmin after contacting every local pub, returned home and started work, at the end of our street, the very next day. We all hoped it would just be temporary, but it started to look that 1am finishing times was going to be her/our life's.

But she got lucky, and is now working hard to keep her dental nurse position. My epidural after 5 weeks, seems to be making my life much better. The pain has withdrawn to a level I can cope with. My life has just adapted around it. I have accepted my nights and know how to make the best of the painful bits. Pilates has definitely helped to make me aware of my posture and gives me hope.

So, although I know the epidural and injection will likely wear off in the coming months/weeks I can see light at the end of the tunnel.

When Tasmin came home I was at my worst pain wise and I did wonder if God had sent her home to help care for me. She helped me to get dressed and with all the chores in the house. Now I feel better I can cope with the house again. And even though is a struggle to put my boots and socks on, I manage somehow.

The cherry on the top was sent to us in a letter yesterday. Tasmin has been having to continue to pay for her University flat. She’d just sent a cheque for £800+ for this semester. Imagine our surprise when she opened a letter saying her flat has been reallocated and she ceases to be liable for it. Here's a cheque for £768.57 !!!!!

So when I woke this morning after a usual night of surfing the net at 4am, taking more painkillers and sleeping with my leg hanging out the bed. I thought my life is good again……….


Monday, 14 February 2011

The bigger the knob the better for me

is what I was saying to my husband as we crossed Tottenham Court Road in London on Sunday. Some nearby pedestrians gave me a weird look. But I don’t know if you’re like me, I like a big knob. I mean there isn’t really any point going for the small ones. Is there?


Now let me put this into context for you. We had gone to London to look for settees. I want to update my main sitting room furniture. I have had  a good innings from my existing sofa and chairs, but my back problems have made sitting in them an issue. But I am very particular with the type of sofas I would like. All the shops are full of corner modular settees. All very good for my sisters modern home, but mine is an Edwardian house and I want something a little more formal.


I was after some large Knowle style settees. Linda and I had checked out all the major stores in London on our recent trip. So all that was left was the group of furniture stores on Tottenham Court Road and Harrods. Harrods are stockists of my number 1 favoured knowle settee. It has large knobs……


LAVX2A_EVA1DE_jpg{w=361,h=361}It was with some surprise that I found myself admiring a settee in Multiyork. A company I would have considered for old fogies. But it would seem I am one now. The salesman had us bouncing around on all the different seat filling options and, oh what a difference it made to my back.


We popped to our favourite restaurant for a spot of lunch

2011 Feb 13th London

and then it was off to HarrIMG_0441-1ods. Their furniture floor is amazing….. and there was…… my Holy Grail of sofas.

Big knobs and everything.

But the cushions were like a feeble handshake. A big disappointment. No bounce and I could tell they would drive me mad. I like my cushions plumped daily and these are massive and heavy.

I was assured we could have a firmer filling at an extra cost and of course the fabrics I chose were in the expensive (extortionate ) range. So back I went to Multiyork to compare. I’m off to a local branch to check out their fabric selection. It will take some hours.

IMG_0451We bought ourselves some “Valentine” cakes to have at home. But as usual they were a disappointment.

The passion fruit cream cupcake alone cost £3 !!!


Some of you may have heard about my Valentine “ surprise” present for my husband. While out with Sandra we came across some bargain nipple tassels. At just £1……..I was tempted by the handcuffs as well, but I had visions of hubby handcuffing me to the bed and leaving me there.


So both of the kids were out Saturday night, and out came the tassels.

I made a slight mistake in using my scrapbook heavy duty tape. Those buggers weren’t going anywhere. I could twirl away to my hearts content. Very amusing for Hubby, a bit bemusing for Teddy. I had to sit the rest of the night with them on watching TV…….Very sexy…..NOT

Happy Valentines Day.


Friday, 11 February 2011

All change for Project Life

Things are about to change around here. for the better I hope. Although my Project Life is going to suffer as a consequence.


Out of 60 applicants, two people were chosen for an interview. Tasmin was one of them. After half an hour, her life changed.

They made the decision in a matter of hours, instead of three weeks like her previous interview. She was the chosen one.

From Monday Tasmin will be a trainee dental nurse.

I think my Project Life will suffer. My model for photo-shoots will be gone. It will be just me and Ted all day. I’ll have to get creative with my images, otherwise the rest of the years shots maybe a bit boring. Me having breakfast, vacuuming, making the beds and cooking dinner.

I am going to have to get better at taking photos at night. Not my strongest point as I try to shoot with natural light. But I have purchased a monitor calibrator to correct the colours I see when I Photoshop my images. So hopefully I will become an expert on correcting colour casts that shooting inside with lights can create. My grey card will have to come out a lot more to get the correct white balance.

I just have to work out how to calibrate my monitors. I think I may be sometime. Wish me luck…..

Monday, 7 February 2011

Is it morning yet?

Oh whoops, its nearly midday.

I have had a bad few days, pain wise. So I have resorted to taking my painkillers and sleeping tablets at night again. Back have come the snacks for the early hours of the morning.

I have found a bizarre way of sleeping that relieves the pain.It cam about as I tried to find a comfortable position. I added an extra pillow for my bad leg,but I gave up and went to get up.So with one leg down and dangling I noticed the pain relieved.So in my drugged state I thought I'll just rest here a second and enjoy the sensation.Well 4 hours later I awoke with a cold,numb leg.

So of course I tried it again last night and it still works. God knows why.


Well today after surfing the internet in my scrap room at 5am,having a snack and topping up my tablets,back to bed I went and I woke up at nearly 11am!!!!!!

Changing bedrooms had also worked as the black out curtains make it night-time all the time.Plus it’s so much quieter,not once have I heard everyone else getting ready for work.

Hubby even walked through to get to the bathroom and I was head back snoring.

Talking of weird sleeping positions I managed to capture Teddy asleep on the sofa.I had to crawl on all fours to get my camera ,so as not to wake him.


of course he woke up and gave me that look.



You know that black hole in everyone's house that swallows up the socks.

Well, it swallowed up my external hard drive.


I religiously updated it every week. I got it out and put it on the landing and that was the last anyone saw of it. It just disappeared.We have checked the loft 4 times, the cellar.We’ve cleared out every drawer, looked under all the furniture, but its vanished. We even checked the local charity shop we had recently donated to.

I waited and waited thinking it would turn up somewhere obscure, but it didn’t. I hadn’t had it long, so I was cross I’d have to buy another one, but buy another one I did this weekend. So, no doubt the bloody thing will turn up now.

I’m going to probably buy a monitor calibrator today. I have been talking myself into it for a few months. I am sick of my prints coming back dark or different to what I see on my monitor. I never knew such a thing existed ,until I did Karen Russell's photography workshop. That class has a lot to answer for. I have spent an indecent amount of money since I took part in it.

I have no idea how easy/hard  the calibrator  will be to use, but its the first step in maybe buying an iMac to process my photos. It’s my latest item I am trying to talk myself into purchasing.

My son wants it desperately. He has a MacBook and three laptops. But its his MacBook he’s devoted to. So I may allow myself it for my birthday in May. The only problem I can see is that I won’t have Photoshop and that I will have to pay out another £700+ for it .

How sad was it to hear about Amanda Holden's loss this weekend. I keep thinking how devastated she must be feeling.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Project my life


I find some days I have three totally different subjects to photograph, to document our lives. But I usually go with the one that is more of a one off.











However, Saturdays image is a bit of a regular occurrence.

Both men sat glued to the TV watching football. The bottom corner one is me and my friend Linda enjoying lunch at my favourite restaurant in London.


I added two blown up images from our sunset shoot on Tuesday. With a few embellishments.


The second half of the week, I managed to capture a shot of my son and his friend on their way to see Usher at the O2. I am taking part in Willette’s Joy of Love class at the moment and one of the prompts was to capture someone you love doing what they do. Well, it had to be Teddy running amok with his favourite toy, an empty water bottle.


For Friday, I had packed up all my make-up, researched lots of products to recommend. I’d had a sleepness night as it was like a hurricane blowing outside. It was still full force as I battled against the winds, down the motorway. I arrived at a centre to talk to a group of teenagers, either pregnant or new mothers. I didn’t know what to expect. The centre weren’t sure how many girls would turn up. What I didn’t know was that none of the girls had been before. They had bought me in to try and tempt more girls to turn up !!

All I can say is that the girls that turned up were stereotypical of the types you read about in papers and see in documentaries. It was extremely hard to keep their attention and you could see they had no real desire to be there. They would sit and wait, listening to me blabbing on and then disappear as soon as they’d seen the midwife. Not one of them brought their make-up bags with them as asked. They were wearing the matt, mask like make-up and fake eyelashes that teenagers seem to think makes them look pretty. Always in at least two shades darker than their own skin. Why I asked them, were they covering up their youthful glow, that all other products try to give you back ? Answer a shrug.

It bought back all my memories of my time working in a Junior school  with children who were “at risk” in their chaotic lives. I resigned nearly ten years ago because it didn’t seem to matter how much I tried to help the children, nothing changed. All that changed was me. I started to worry 24/7 about them, and forgot to enjoy my own life, and my life with my family. I started to feel guilty for everything we had. But it dawned on me one day, that you can’t help these people, and I’m afraid that's how I felt after the session on Friday. The centre had put on a full buffet for them, they didn’t touch a thing. They didn’t interact at all with each other.I had to do all the talking and coaxing.

I gave up talking to them about makeup, and just talked to them about my experiences with my children. I did keep asking them if they have photos of their children. Only one of them had had some printed. But of course they all had the latest mobile phones, full of pictures they put on Facebook. I continually pointed out that these images would one day be lost to their children. I told them we need to learn about our pasts and photographs is an important way of doing this. One had an amazing picture she was so proud of. It was of the moment her baby was born, laying on her chest, vernix and all. I reminded her to get it printed ,that she wouldn’t have that phone forever and the image would be lost to her and her daughter. I tried showing them some scrapbooks and I explained about Project Life and how much their babies would love to have a record of their first months.

But it will be interesting to see if it all fell on deaf ears. I was telling them about an old boyfriend I had, who didn’t have a single photo of himself until he was in his teens. I could tell by their reactions that this was nothing surprising to them. In their lives this is normality.

I felt just like I used to, that I live in a parallel Universe. I have different values, expectations and morals.  People always used to look down on girls from where I grew up. They always said “ you can take the girl out of Stevenage, but you can’t take the Stevenage out of the girl.”

Well, I feel I escaped. I never did belong, really. I was always different. But I can see that I could so easily have become one of these girls because we lived on a council estate, we went to one of the worst schools in Stevenage  and my boyfriend lived on one of the most impoverished council estates that Stevenage had. People I went to school with either had babies, lived on benefits or went to prison. Or did all three!!

But through hard work my parents moved us to a detached house on a private estate and we mixed with different people. And I suppose we changed. We were then considered posh at our school. Its funny because I am considered far from posh away from that town. It was after I moved away to another town that I realised what it was really like in the world outside.

I found this on the internet. It was asking what is the most crap town to live in-

Without doubt it has to be Stevenage. With its soul destroying concrete structures, highly dangerous local population and a teenage pregnancy rate second to none. You know you have hit rock bottom when you end up in this squalid hell hole

and yet another

A town in the midst of Hertfordshire, populated by 14 year olds and their children


Well my talk wasn’t in Stevenage, and sadly one of the girls was like looking at a mirror image of myself. She arrived with her unusual named child, Cath Kidston changing bag, trendy clothes, full make up and was the dominant one of the group. Well ,we may get to met again. The lady who runs the centre thought it went amazingly well.?????… and she has asked me to go back next week to photograph the babies and teach the girls to scrapbook…………… How can I say no…….I know for my sanity I should say no though…..

But luckily Anna Bowkis had a clear-out of her scrap supplies and is going to donate some bits for the centre for me to work with.

Wish me luck I need it…….

On a happier note I couldn’t resist these cushions this week. How amazing are these.



I just need some new sofas to go with them……


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