Thursday, 15 May 2014

May CREATE online magazine

My love of sketches over the years has led me to find inspiration in all kinds of places - sketch blogs and magazines (both paper and online) being my favourite mediums :)

Allison Davis was one of those inspirations, and now the business she runs with her sister, Mum and aunt -  Scrapbook Generation - now produce an online magazine everyone month called CREATE. And it's FREE! And packed with a ton of inspiration :)

You can find it here.

And as an aside, you'll find a layout from a certain person on page 242. Just sayin'.....

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Along the garden path

So, I decided that I needed to get organised and rediscover my scrapping mojo ;) I looked through some sketches, picked out some photos, and then went to find some 12x12 bags to put my kits into.... Ah, I appear to have left them in storage....
But, whilst hunting for the bags, I came across a couple of boxes of UFOs - Unfinished Objects - mini books, layouts, all in 12x12 baggies. So, I decided if I wanted to make up new kits, I needed to finish off some projects.

This layout is using Sketch 183 from Nuts About Sketches. It's one I didn't do in time when I was on the Design Team ;)
The cute little toddler is me :) I used all scraps on the page, and the butterflies are from a Martha Stewart 3 butterfly punch. 

It feels good to be back on the scrapping wagon again, and finding these UFOs is a great challenge. It's like looking at something with fresh eyes, and realising that it wasn't that hard to do in the first place :) Plus I am emptying the baggies I need to make new kits - win win!

Sarah xxx

Friday, 3 January 2014

One Little Word 2014 - REDISCOVER

I chose a word a few years ago, that has seemed to follow me into every year since, and that word is BALANCE. I have decided that for 2014, I want to have an additional word - I still think about balance a lot, and I continue to try and achieve balance in my life, but I wanted another word to focus on other parts of my life. That word is REDISCOVER. Over the years, I think I have "lost" aspects of myself - things that I used to enjoy, but found that life/family/work just overtook everything else, and I dropped things. This year I plan to REDISCOVER these things.

Relationships - it has been a stressful year for Mark and I. He has had lots of challenges with work, learning new protocols and procedures, and having to adapt to a new culture and work ethic that is the US Navy ;) Sometimes he comes home and he is like "bah humbug!!!" and he just wants to shut himself away or go to the gym. I have found being a SAHM here hard to adapt to. My house is much larger than I am used to, so the housework has tripled. I sometimes feel isolated, being in a country far from home. Sometimes the cultural differences are hard to comprehend. Our kids are getting older, so there comes challenges with that too. We need to rediscover ourselves as a couple, and it is proving harder that we thought. So I really need to concentrate on this in 2014.

Music - I love music - playing, singing, just listening to it. I have a guitar that I rarely pick up anymore, I bought myself a flute with the aim of learning, but never got round to it. I see my 9th grade daughter enjoying being part of her High School Chorus, and I long to be a part of a choir again.

Scrapbooking - I really dropped the ball with this in 2013. I burned myself out a bit from being on a Design Team, and although I loved the work I produced, I didn't  always like the deadlines. I took a break, which turned out to be almost a year. I started Project Life, and did 2 weeks. I am planning on doing Project Life again this year, doing a one page spread a week. And I am going to start making up page kits for regular scrapping too. I have so many photos and stories from the 18 months that we have lived in the US so far, but I think I only have scrapped photos from our first weekend!

Friendships - being far from home has advantages and disadvantages. We don't get the family dramas, but we also miss our friends. I am in a situation in that there are 10 other British guys doing the same thing as DH. And 9 other wives. Some of us get on. Some of us most definitely DON'T. The ones I get on with are all younger than me. They are like my younger sisters. They are all either starting families or have young families, and sometimes in this past year things have happened that make me realise that while they are all starting this phase, it is ending for me. Which makes me sad. So I distance myself. And they notice. And that makes me sad too. I am excited for all these new babies, I truly am, but when you realise that your ability to have babies yourself is coming to an end, it hits hard. I need to rediscover how to approach these friendships. I also need to rediscover friends I have made since being here, that I have lost touch with. I need to rediscover my old friends back home too, and catch up with their news. I am really bad at this. I need to start putting in the effort.

Myself - I just need to rediscover what makes me ME! I had it for a while, but it has gotten lost again. I need to let go of things, reclaim things, make decisions based on what is right for me and not just what will please everyone else. I miss not working - visa issues mean that it is illegal for me to get a job without first going through the Embassy to get a work permit. I quite enjoyed being known for myself, and not just as Tom or Jemma's Mum, or as Mark's wife.  I was just Sarah - it said so on my name badge lol.  After 18 months of not working, the novelty is wearing off. And once again I am just Tom's Mom, Jemma's Mom, or Mark's wife (or someone else's wife, but that is a whole 'nother story  ;) ) 

Another thing I am hoping to rediscover this year is blogging! Hmm, I think I say that every year hahahaha..... But, this year I am aiming for success!!

Anyway, Happy New Year, hoping 2014 brings health and happiness, and that all your wishes come true!

Sarah xxx


Saturday, 13 July 2013

It's all about the Red, White and Blue

I've had quite a trend going with my crafting just recently, and it's all about red, white and blue!

I think the abundance of patriotic colours in the stores here, and my eagerness to make some stuff that will remind me of my American adventure, has lead me down this path!

My current crafting obsession is quilting. I love the feel of fabric, and I like the idea of making things that have a purpose.

This is the first of 2 Wiggly Whimsy quilts I made, using a pattern from the Moda BakeShop by Rebecca Silbaugh. I used up scraps of Patriotic fabrics from another quilt (still in progress) that I bought at Jo-Anns, and used natural muslin fabric which I purchased at Walmart. Yes, Walmart ;)
I bought a cream coloured fleece and a striped cotton for the binding, also from Jo-Anns. I quilted it simply, with a stitch-in-the-ditch pattern, without batting, as I thought it would be too thick for the Florida climate. I made another quilt, using the same scraps and background fabric, with a red gingham binding. The striped one is Tom's, the gingham is Jemma's. The kids love them, and like nothing better to snuggle under them whilst watching a DVD at night. Even in July.

Armed with the scraps leftover from the backing to my Work in Progress quilt, I searched the web for a Union Jack pattern, and found a great foundation paper piecing pattern here courtesy of Susanne Klemm. Even though I had never done any foundation paper piecing before, I quickly worked it out, and ran up this flag in an evening. I then put a navy border round it, sandwiched and quilted it, and used up the leftover binding from Tom's quilt to finish it off. I was so chuffed with how it turned out, and I am itching to make another one. I may use some patterned fabric in the next one, to make a more Cath Kidston-esque flag. It will even up my USA vs UK projects as well!

The weather has turned positively monsoon like this weekend - whilst the sun is out and shining back in the UK. The remnants of the Tropical weather system Chantal is to blame for the rain, although we haven't had as much rain as we did last summer. The kids are one month away from returning to school, and I must say, these holidays haven't been as tortuous as previous years. Jemma takes herself to the pool most days, and Tom has been at day camp this last week, evening up the days he prefers to sit indoors on his laptop ;)  I have this years school supply list now, so will now start getting the things they need, ready for the start of term :)

It's homemade pizza night tonight, so I'm off to roll out the dough...

Sarah xxx

Saturday, 1 June 2013

What a difference a year makes...

This time last year, we arrived in the US. We approached Dulles through a massive storm cell, and I really thought we were not going to make it, it was that bad! The first night we had to go to CVS to buy emergency umbrellas, as it was absolutely throwing it down!

We had a fabulous weekend in Washington D.C, introducing ourselves to the culture and traditions of this great nation we were lucky enough to be calling home.

The man in the chair. Abraham Lincoln, the man who restored the Union. He was on Tom's things to see list, and to see him in real life is so awe inspiring, and fitting for the Father of the Nation.

The Capitol, the heart of government. It was probably quiet in there, seeing as it was a weekend. But you know there are always going to be people working away behind the scenes ;)

Then we flew down to Jacksonville. The humidity hit us as we got off the plane! It was like walking into a sauna, and it was 7pm! A sign of things to come.... Two weeks of car buying, lease signing, shopping, shopping and more shopping, and we finally moved into our new home.

The summer was filled with trips to the beach, and the pool. More shopping. And lots of painful admin - literally in the kids case, as they needed more immunisations to complete their certification for school requirements. Driving tests and licenses. Military IDs for everyone. School enrollments and open days. Meeting lots of new friends and neighbours. BBQs and dinners. And 4th of July :)

Our neighbourhood had a parade, full of fire trucks and police cars, and of floats, golf carts, boats, cars all bedecked in the red, white and blue. America does national pride very well, patriotism is evident all around, and not just of the 4th of July :)

Then, in a flash it was August, and back to school time. The kids had a longer summer break than they were used to, and they were ready to get back in the classroom. They didn't know what to expect. We didn't know what to expect. But I am SO PROUD of my kids, they got stuck in, they didn't complain, they got on with it. And they have excelled. Tom has been on the Honor Roll all year, with straight A's on his report card. Jemma has found it harder, but has accomplished so much, and has been recommended for an Honors program when she starts High School in August. They made friends quickly, and although they stand out for being different, they have used it to their advantage. Many times ;)

We made it through the Autumn, emjoying the spectacle that is Halloween. WOW, the costumes!! There were 2 huge shops that opened purely for Halloween. As soon as November came, poof!, they were gone LOL. Thanksgiving was a first for us, but we spent it with good friends eating our body weight in food ;)
Christmas was quiet, spent making new traditions with neighbours, and then having a small get together with some fellow Brits on Boxing Day, to keep those traditions alive :) The New Year was seen in after some competitive Kinect playing, and dodging fireworks from gung ho neighbours LOL.

We have visited Orlando - Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure theme parks,  plus SeaWorld, and have been to Busch Gardens in Tampa. We dipped our toes in the Mexican Gulf at Clearwater. We went tubing down the Ichetucknee river, and swam with manatees at Crystal Springs.

Mark is fully trained and working hard at the Naval Air Station, flying several days a week and getting stuck in with training students. He was awarded a Commendation, which now sits proudly on the wall next to his other one - a matching pair!!

This year has been a steep learning curve. You think you know what to expect when you arrive. You think you know America - we've seen it on TV shows and in movies. But living here is different. You see their patriotism daily. The kids learned the Pledge of Alleigence pretty quickly, as it is said every day at school. They play the national anthem at the start of every sporting activity - from an NFL football game down to a fun run. They fly the Stars and Stripes from their houses with pride. They defend their constitution fiercely. Their right to bear arms is part of who they are. It's literally in their DNA makeup. They may not all own guns (and alot do), but they all see it as given that they could bear arms if they needed to. They grieve with their fellow Americans, near and far, when tragedy strikes.
Living here reinforces the view that we are 2 nations divided by a common language too. The kids, obviously being exposed to Americans every day at school, have picked up a tiny twang, and use American words (candy, soda etc) with their friends. I tend to translate on the fly, sometimes saying things that get a puzzled look in reply before I realise it. And everyone just "loves our accent"!!
It no longer takes me over 2 hours to do the weekly grocery shop - I have worked out what substitutes for what, and I have a few places I can go to if I am craving something British. Our local Publix supermarket has a great wee range of Brit foods, and I always head there if I am having a bad day to get a Mars Bar fix ;)

And the best bit? (Apart from the large choice of craft shops of course) THIS is the best bit...

Waking up to this every morning. My little pond. There is always a choice of wildlife to spot. And, no, that does not involve any alligators ;) But we have fish, turtles, and a huge array of birds that visit our little bit of water. The sun doesn't always shine, and the sky isn't always blue (shocking I know, this is Florida?) but the locals are friendly, we have a roof over our heads, a reliable (if a bit battered) mode of transport, and food on the table. Life is Good. As long as we are healthy and looked after, I could live anywhere in the world. And for now, that is here in Florida, which is an added bonus... And one that I am eternally grateful for.

Sarah x

Thursday, 25 April 2013

New artwork

Wherever we live, we always try to pick up home decor pieces that remind us of that place. When we lived in Gibraltar, we bought lots of the rustic white and blue ceramics that were super cheap in the Spanish markets. We also bought a framed print of a painting of the Rock, and also acquired a large aerial photo of Gibraltar. Oh, and we also brought back a little boy, who was born at the Royal Naval Hospital Gibraltar. I think he is my favourite memento ;)
Fast forward to our arrival in America. In our shipping we brought copious Union Jack themed items for our new Florida home - Union Jack cushions and tea towels mainly. Oh, and a teapot. We have the archetypal "Keep Calm and Carry On" plaque. And a Union Jack photo frame. I have a couple of shopping bags, and an amazing bag with a pieced Union Jack flag on which was made by a friend of my Mum. But I didn't go completely overboard with the Britishness lol. And yeah, we have a few military pictures too... Planes and stuff.

So, we have been here 10 months, and I have been starting to look for things that will remind us of America when we go back home to Blighty. I have already spoken about my America themed quilts that are under construction lol, but I wanted something else. Something cool. Something American...

And I found it at World Market...

(See the Union Jack photo frame ;) )

I love it! It helps me and the kids with our American geography, and it looks cool!! I am hoping that when we get home, I can point out all the states we have visited. So far, that is just one. Yep, we haven't made it out of Florida yet. OK, maybe 2, if you count the weekend in D.C before we flew down here.... 

Here's to the start of a new collection.... of Americana....

Sarah xxx

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Skirts, bath bombs and a flower...

So, while I may not be crafting with paper just now, I am certainly not short of crafty things to do...

I have toyed for a while with trying to make some clothes. I have done so in the past, but not since I was at university. I tend to be lazy, and not finish my seams properly, and literally make do and mend ;)
But, inspired by some blog posts, I have bit the bullet and made something. A skirt. A maxi skirt. With ruffles :) I found an excellent tutorial here and went to JoAnns to get some fabric. And this is what I ended up with...

I love it. It's not perfect - a bit wonky in places, but I am blaming my sewing machine which took great umbrage at sewing jersey fabric ;) I have fabric for another one, but will wait for the walking foot to arrive for my sewing machine, as maybe I will have better results.

One of the other Brit wives out here on exchange found an awesome deal on our local Groupon, to take classes at an organic studio - making cheese, candles, soap and other such things. A few of us decided it would actually be quite good fun, so we signed up. I took a bath bomb making class on Monday night, and it was brilliant :)

We came home with a tray full of bathbombs that we had made ourselves, and a small tub of jello based soap. It was really interesting, we made 3 different types of bath bombs, and came home with a booklet with all the instructions and recipes. The next class I'm taking is a soapmaking class, and we come home with a big slab of soap!

Finally the flower. Tomorrow is ANZAC day, and the Australian Air Force guys here are having a remembrance service on the squadron. I asked my Aussie friend, if it was appropriate for me to wear a poppy - in the UK on Remembrance Day the British Legion sell little paper poppies and we are encouraged to "Wear your Poppy with Pride". As this is a day of remembrance for Australian and New Zealand forces who have fought and died in World Wars, and other conflicts. Having a Great Grandfather who fought in WW1 and a Grandfather who fought in WW2, and being a military spouse, I always try to wear a poppy. Unfortunately, the Americans don't seem to have them, so I missed out wearing one in November. Today, I had a bit of a brain wave and decided to make my own out of felt.

I found a tutorial here, got some red and black felt, and a few seed beads, and set to work. I am quite pleased with how it turned out, and will definitely be wearing this poppy with pride tomorrow.

Today has been a very pleasant day, blue skies and a slight breeze, so I took the opportunity to go down to our community pool to swim a few laps and soak up some rays :) Sometimes it's hard work being me... :P

Sarah xxx