Catching up… November/December

It’s about time!*

This January, as with many previous Januaries, I am wrestling with my attitude to productivity. I don’t like being (too) busy, but feel guilty when I’m sitting still. Yet for someone who feels guilty sitting still, I do an awful lot of it. A vicious cycle, really. So I am trying to deepen my understanding that ‘resting’ is not synonymous with ‘wasting time’. Come bedtime, I am trying to celebrate the things I have achieved that day (acknowledging that achievements need not be limited to chores but can include quality time and happy memory making) rather than reeling over a list of unaccomplished goals.

One of the things that often causes to me to spin my wheels is feeling like I can’t move on to the next task(s) without finishing x,y and z first. Case in point: start a book, don’t love it, struggle through a few pages at a time, reeeeaaaally want to read something else but convince myself that I can’t until I’ve finished my current book, resulting in me not reading at all. And hating myself. See?

This post is born out of recognition that if I don’t write something, anything about November/December I will continue to stagnate in January. So hold on tight, here we go.

In November our office participated in ‘Movember’ or at least a few hardy (foolhardy?) blokes did. To end off the month with a bang a bun, there was a bakesale. I baked cupcakes using the same recipe I posted here, ditched the pink food colouring and added some impromptu moustache flags – just drawn on white paper and affixed to toothpicks with a prit stick. Genius! (Sarcasm)

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Next up… Christmas cards. Last year I made my Christmas cards and quickly realised that each one took over an hour to make – the return on investment was too low. I made 19 in total and supplemented the rest with charity cards. This year, before I had even decided to make my cards, an idea popped into my head that I know would work without taking (quite) so long per card. It started with the phrase ‘merry and bright’ which I turned into a stamp via this website.

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Add some glossy bright red card stock, a snowflake stamp, white embossing powder, and embellishments (diamante gems and 3mm ribbon)…

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And voila! Home-made Christmas cards. I didn’t break it down into minutes-per-card but these were definitely faster than last years. I’m happy with the way they turned out.

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Continuing with the snowflake theme, I attempted for the second year in a row to make my own wrapping paper. The benefit of 364 days passing between Christmases is that one forgets how crazy busy things get without introducing the added complication of homemade wrapping paper. Thus I found myself furiously measuring, stamping, cutting and taping into the wee hours to finish in time for Christmas no.1 at the in-laws’.

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I went out of my way to find boxes to fit those awkward shaped gifts which made wrapping a whole lot easier and a whole lot prettier. I like how they look all stacked together, full of unknown promise! This year we spent Christmas day with my parents in Cologne. It was just the 4 of us and, as David experienced on Christmas day 2 years ago when he proposed, we tend to linger over present-opening. Each gift gets its own mini ceremony… no ripping or tearing. I chose a theme: “Something you want, Something you need, Something to wear, Something to read” meaning each person got 4 gifts. I found the theme helped me to focus on choosing gifts that were  thoughtful, meaningful, or at least useful without going too overboard. Although, for his “Something to wear” David got a Superdry leather jacket which he was very pleased with. A happy day all round.

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One last craft project to round up December… a wedding photo collage for my sister-in-law and her husband. 2012 was ‘The Year of the Wedding’ as both of us tied the knot 3 months apart. The previous Christmas was spent in anticipation of the year to come, musing that ‘this time next year it will all be over…what will we talk about?!’ This Christmas was sweet in a quietly contented way… our first as newlyweds but with the excitement around that stage in our lives gone forever. I wasn’t quite ready to let go.

I can’t lie… even to you (whoever you are). This idea did not originate from some inner craft muse. Alas, it was on a flier in Hobbycraft. I made one a few years back when my friend Naeeda departed Edinburgh for Bangkok. I also made one for my Ruth, full of nature-y photos and a few sausage dogs for good measure. I think they’re a nice way of capturing memories in a not-too-tacky way (but I’ll let you be the judge).

For one not-too-tacky photo collage, you will need:

  • Box frame (I chose to make a larger version using this Ikea frame)
  • A collection of photographs/images. The design requires 21 portrait and 3 landscape oriented pictures.
  • Hi-tack glue (or a prit stick will work fine)
  • Sticky foam pads, found in the paper section of the craft store.
  • Self-adhesive tape
  • Ribbon, buttons, mementos, etc to embellish

The first step is to choose photos. Import them into MS Word and adjust their size by right clicking –> format picture. Untick the box that says ‘lock aspect ratio’ so you can set the dimensions to exactly 6×4 cm (or 4×6 cm for the landscape oriented ones). Next, print them out on normal A4 paper using the highest quality print settings. Before cutting out, I painted over the page with gloss varnish to make the pictures look like more like mini photo prints. Of course you could just print on glossy photo paper, but that was before we had a printer so I had to make use of available tools (i.e. the printers at work – aren’t I cheeky). Cut out the pictures and arrange them to your liking (note the balance of colours particularly if you have a mixture of colour and black & white shots).

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Begin sticking the photos down (a faint pencil line drawn in with a ruler would not go amiss to keep things straight). Leave gaps for a few photos in sporadic locations – I chose 1-2 per row. These photos will be added in later, attached to the sticky foam pads to give a 3-dimensional effect.

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Finish off with a few embellishments – bows, buttons and the like. Affix your artwork to the mount that comes with the frame using double-sided tape.

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Finished product! It was well received. I might make myself one… now that I’ve finally finished our wedding albums (like I need an excuse to pour over wedding photographs again).

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*Draft last edited 15th January… Le sigh. Need to get this one done and out the way as it’s proving to be a creative cork so to speak. Keeping all the effervescence from bubbling out and into the blogosphere!

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