Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Jay Bell - Something like series x

Today is a special day.................

yes it's Wednesday, middle of the working week, hump day and also drum roll............

the publication of Jay's 10th book.

photo owned by Jay Bell

Jay is an American writer living and working in Germany, where his husband Andreas was born. Jay writes the books and Andreas designs and draws all the illustrations for Jay's books. A husband and husband team of incredible creativity.

photo by Jay Bell

Above are all of Jay's books to date, the most recent is bottom right "Something like Thunder" which is the 6th in Jay's "Something like......." series. This series began with "Something like Summer" which is the first in the Seasons series and has now progressed into weather i.e. Lightning and Thunder.

This series follows the story of Ben and Tim, two high school students who following an accident become friends and then......................... well you'll have to read the stories now won't you.

I have read all Jay's books, except obviously this new one, although I could have, more on that later. What I love about the books Jay writes is his brilliant characterisation, the engaging stories of a wide variety of characters from all walks of life, romance, life and hope. I always come away feeling real hope when I've read one of Jay's books. The other brilliant concept is that certainly with Summer and Winter the stories are told from different points of view. Summer is primarily Ben's and Winter is Tim's. This provides such a wonderful insight into the parts of the books which were missing, it gives a breadth to the characters and introduces you to even more.

Autumn and Winter introduce new characters but with Ben and Tim well and truly interacting with them, whilst Thunder and Lightning give newer or smaller characters a chance to shine.

So onto  why I could have already read the latest book, Something Like Thunder.

Are you sitting comfortably? Well so was I last Friday afternoon, when there was a thud on my doorstep. Thinking it was a new telephone book, I left whatever it was for a while and about an hour later went to pick it up (sorry Jay).

To my surprise there was a padded envelope with lovely stamps on it.

"What did I order that I forgot about?"

On examination, it was from Jay. "What is he sending me?" I wonder (Jay and I have corresponded for a while via email, Facebook etc).

Opening the parcel, out comes a copy of "Something like Thunder" to which I say another "What?" and 2 pieces of A4 paper.

On said paper pieces are three emails we had shared back in August and September 2013 to which I give another "What?"

On the back is a handwritten note from Jay saying................

Hi Jo!
Surprise! Remember this email exchange? I hope you like the end result. Please keep the details secret until the book has been out for a while. We don't to spoil it for anyone!
Thanks much for everything!

To wit another "What?"

So I re-read the emails and go "Oh yeah, we had a conversation about a plot point and I told Jay about an idea I had". Thinking no more I open the book to have a sneak and come to the Acknowledgements page and see this.............

To which, I have a few freaking out moments using certain language not necessarily heard from this lady's lips. Have another look, freak out a bit more then laugh and wander around in a daze with a stupid grin on my face before sending a gushing fangirl email to Jay.

And Jay, being the lovely gentleman he is didn't run for the German mountains with Andreas but sent me the loveliest reply telling me he'd planned it all as a surprise and how my idea had just happened to work for this novel.

I've only told a few people, mainly mum and dad. This led to a hilarious exchange on Saturday.

Me: So what do you think?

The Mother: So your names in this book?

Me: Yes.

The Mother: So is it only in your book then?

Me: No, it will be in all the copies of the book people buy across the world.

The Mother: so it's quite a big thing then really?

Me: Yes

The Mother: Well isn't that nice.

Yes, actually it is Mum lol.

Now as a hater of spoilers, I know not to tell you guys what my idea was or how Jay made it come to life. Indeed, not even I'm sure quite how it's going to roll out because my copy is now virgin territory. It is one of only 3 proof copies in the world and I want to bu another copy to read so this one remains special.

I am looking forward to seeing how Jay's wonderful characters progress this time.

If you'd like to find out more about Jay then he blogs here and he will be celebrating big time for his 10th book.

Also Something like Summer is about to become a movie in the USA, filming begins this summer and I cannot be more happy for both Jay and Andreas as they move into a new chapter for the books and the characters they've brought to life.

I am sure all Jay's fans will agree he so deserves this recognition and wish him great big congratulations for number 10.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Two on Tuesday x

Wow another week gone and it's Two on Tuesday.

So I hope you've all recovered from the brilliant weekend of Focusing on your crafting with Jennifer Grace. I have to say she truly outdid herself with the crafting this time, I was super impressed. I popped over to most of the posts but I have chosen just one to focus on today as it is something anyone can do and it has such an impact. Make an inspiration wall...........................

I chose this because it is such a simple idea but really, really effective. You can do it absolutely anywhere really. Jennifer used a door and we almost all have a spare one of those, but you could use a wall, pinboard, a canvas, a big frame and lots of other ideas to focus you.
I know I have quite a few bits that are in my craft room hidden away which I could get out and produce a focused area all of my own and it looked really simple. If you go to Jennifer's blog, there is a process video to watch too so you can get an idea of how she put the whole wall together.

If you'd like further inspiration then there are tons of great links on Pinterest of course. I found these 2 ideas for renters like myself.....................

 photo from here
In the picture above, washi tape has been used to both frame and also hang pictures on the wall. The beauty of washi tape is it doesn't affect the paintwork so you shouldn't have any problems with your landlord when you move out. All you have to do is alter the washi tape when you want to refresh you inspiration wall.

photo from here
Here is another excellent idea using an old shutter, or a louvred door. I've seen these used on DIY shows for magazine holders, records and books and you can just take this with you when you move and respray it different colours to suite your mood.

And on a personal note, Mandy from A Teacup of Scrapisms sent me a lovely comment based on my bloghop post which you can read here. She was so inspired by my journal and ideas that she's begun one of her own. Thank you so much Mandy, blogfriends are brilliant.

My second offering today is your own personal Sheldon Cooper amigurami doll. I LOVE The Big Bang Theory, it is by far the best comedy programme I watch and I would love to have my own Sheldon to sing me soft kitty when I'm ill.

If you can't afford your own Sheldon, I'm sure he's way out of my price range, then why not crochet one. A(mi]dorable Crochet has the perfect pocket sized pattern for you here.

Furthermore, Jackie has patterns for most of the Big Bang gang. Here's Amy............

and if that wasn't enough Jackie gave the real Sheldon his own version which he shared on US TV. Go Jackie.
You need to go to about 2.30 minutes in for that part......................

Have a happy Tuesday x

Friday, 15 May 2015

The Focus Your Craft and Soul bloghop x

Good evening welcome to the next part of Jennifer Grace's bloghop in celebration of her latest blog event.

You should have arrived here from K's Crafty Corner or perhaps you hopped over from Bloglovin. However you arrive, do be sure to hop over to Jennifer's blog and follow all the other lovely blogposts, not only because it'll be a beautiful trip but also because you could win a fabulous giveaway. 

This is the rather aptly named "Shine" Insta album kit set you could win courtesy of  WRK. Enter to win by commenting on all the blogs in the Focus Your Craft & Soul hop! The giveaway closes on Sunday the 24th of May at 10pm BST, and is open internationally".

For me, crafting is all about relaxation and to be honest at the moment, I'm really busy so my relaxation times are small. In order to maintain some semblance of creativity, which helps my mental health no end, and to not get bogged down in the daily routines of life, I began doing a small piece of creative activity everyday after I've had my supper.

I have begun keeping a creative book and I'm following 2 projects on Instagram which I found via Amy Tangerine's blog and Instagram account. These 2 projects help keep me focused on being creative everyday without having to get out a load of scrapbooking supplies or taking a huge amount of time when I'm tired or just unmotivated.

This is one of the great things about blogging and using social media - the joy of finding something which inspired you to be creative in new and interesting ways. 

The first project I'm doing is called the Creative Midori Challenge and is the brainchild of Florence Antonette on Instagram aka livelifeandcreate . Every month she sets a daily topic for you to be creative with, this month's May can be found here . I like the fact that the topics are slightly off the wall some days and I have to think a bit before creating my page but also they are brief and I can do as little or as much as I feel up for.

Here are a couple of my pages............

The second challenge project is by Cori aka  The Reset Girl. Again each month,  Cori compiles a daily listing topic and you base your creative activity on that. I use the same journal for this project and much like Amy Tangerine I have one side of the page for my listing challenge and the other for the creative midori challenge. Here are a few of my lists..........

What really focuses me on these projects is that it is so simple and quick. I have a tray in my lounge with all the basic bits I use for the projects. It has my journal which was 99 pence from The Works, my watercolour paints, brushes, a StazOn ink pad, some washi tapes, some stamps, a stamping block, pens, pencils, a few stickers - alphabets, quotes and sayings, and that is just about it.

Keeping this tray simple has meant I am focused on being creative rather than swamping myself with lots of choices. I can always add some extras on as I go along, but I am pretty much keeping it to those few bits. And so far I've done everyday for 15 days so that makes me very happy indeed.

Your next blogger is Jacky so hop on over and see what she had prepared for you. Have a wonderful time.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Two on Tuesday x

Good evening and a little later than usual, Two on Tuesday.

Rolling forward to this weekend, the incredibly talented Jennifer Grace is hosting another of her brilliant crafting weekends from this Friday 15 May at 6pm until Sunday evening. 
This time her theme is Focus: 

Here is her announcement of the event..............

Mark your calendars for May the 15th – 17th!
The theme for the event is loosely based on my word-of-the-year ‘Focus’. This will cover a variety of ideas on how to focus your crafting, about living in the moment, making sure you appreciate the little things, and how to use focal points. We’ll also be using a lot of icons like targets, frames, arrows, triangles, and cameras!
The event will follow the same format as my previous Blog Events, with posts from 4pm – 10pm Friday, and 10am – 10pm Saturday and Sunday (times all BST). There will be lots of crafts, tutorials, challenges, a blog hop, and of course some lovely giveaways! The giveaways AND challenges will all stay open for a week this time to give you a chance to keep up with commenting and creating.
Having followed Jennifer for a number of years now, Jennifer has truly worked hard at promoting her creativity and her own personal style and she has built her blog and developed her own activities. She has recently taken the big step of making her own videos. Her weekend events are always brilliant so if you really fancy finding some new and interesting activities then go visit her this weekend. There will be a bloghop this Friday evening at 6pm and a fancy giveaways too.
Secondly this Tuesday, I know I've picked this one perhaps a little late, however I felt it was such a fun challenge and after seeing Julie Kirk's hilarious pictures I'd give this challenge some publicity.

I first saw this challenge over on Sian's blog although originally the challenge comes from Getting it Scrapped . The idea is to take photographs which demonstrate the movies suggested. I'm holding on for Rinda's Summertime Scavenger hunt which she will announce in a couple of weeks, so excited.

See you next week.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

One photo, 20 words x

Is it really that time already? Don't the days seem to be flying by?

Today being the 9th is the day for One photo, 20 words, Abi from Creating Paper Dreams meme.

"Dandelion - the rustic oracle; its flowers always open about 5am and shut at 8pm, serving the shepherd for a clock." 

Source: Folkard (448. 309), from "The Child and Childhood in Folk-Thought," by Alexander F. Chamberlain

It continually amazes me, how much I remember the games and rhymes from my childhood. Blowing the seeds off the dandelion head was such a fun thing to do, and I do it to this day, 49 years young or not! That link back to childhood and, I suppose, innocence is what keeps us rooted to our personal histories and aren't we always recalling those as a part of memory keeping?

Go look at some of the other beautiful photographs on Abi's blog.

Friday, 8 May 2015

VE Day 1945 - 2015

from The Daily Mail

Today, in the UK, begins a 3 day celebration of 70 years since the official end of the Second World War - known as Victory in Europe Day or VE Day for short. That day was to recognise the formal acceptance on 8 May 1945 of the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany to the Allied Forces.

For many people, this weekend is a huge celebration, but of course we must always remember those families in other countries for whom VE Day was no celebration but a sad day for them.

I wanted to do something to remind people of the event so I asked two lovely, slightly more mature members of my family and a family friend what they remembered of the day.

The unanimous answer was...............

The Street Party, Jo!!

from The Daily Mail

My dad was 6 1/2 in 1945 and lived in Cheltenham. His father had served up until the evacuation from Dunkirk when he was so seriously injured he was medically discharged and spent several years away from his family in London recovering and rehabilitating.

My dad describes how everyone went in fancy dress. My grandad dressed him up as a guard, as my grandad was a Coldstream Guard in the war. He put my dad in his red jacket but it was so big it reached to my dad's feet. Dad's cousins also came and his Aunty and Uncle. Dad remember there being cakes and lemonade which he says he never had during the war, or at least he can't remember having them.

During the street party, dad remembers the coal men who delivered the coal to the house coming dressed as women,

" in drag as they call it now I suppose"

 Apparently, they came as Elsie and Doris Waters who were famous as Gert and Daisy on the radio in the 1940s

from Wikipedia

That must have been a spectacle and a half for a little boy to see.

My parent's friend Shirley was a little older at 10 years old and she lived in Leamington Spa on VE Day. Shirley says Leamington was not the quietest of places in the war as they were on the direct bombing path to Coventry and she remembers a German fighter plane shooting at her and mum while they were walking down the street one day. Luckily a cyclist came and threw himself over them to save them. Heroic.

Shirley has a few more memories of VE Day. She says she was lying in bed with her mum, her mum went to open the window still in her nightdress and leaning out there was her neighbour doing the same thing. Shirley remembers these two ladies having a conversation about "It's all over now,it's all over" Shirley's response was "What's all over". Out of the mouth of babes and children!

Shirley can remember listening to the radio announcer Alvar Lidell informing the nation that the war was finally over. Apparently it was the one time everyone had to stay quiet when the radio war reports came on.

Shirley went to street party too dressed as a Gypsy girl with a lovely headdress and her neighbours boy went as Father Christmas.

It was so interesting talking to them about their memories and I'm hoping I might get a chance to look at Shirley's photographs of the street party some day. Sadly my dad didn't have any and as my mum she doesn't remember it at all cos she was only 5. Aww bless.

I love finding out about historical events from the perspective of people who were there, it gives it life. That is why I am a memory keeper. Happy VE Day.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Two on Tuesday x

Hello and welcome to the first May edition of two on Tuesday a weekly look at two things I have found and fallen for over the last week.

Firstly, may I introduce a fellow crafter. Is it ok to call him that, I think so but he is so much more. I have palpitations everytime someone says "Now get your Exacto knife and cut out those flowers" Horror, run away.

Now this guy has made using said Exacto knife or scalpel into a miracle and I want him to come cut out lovely things for me but I couldn't afford his rates.

Marc Hagan-Guirey aka Paper Dandy is incredibly talented with said Exacto/scalpel and from one sheet of paper he creates incredibly intricate designs like this..................

image courtesy of  Paper Dandy of Rosemary's Baby apartment building

This is the art of Kirigami. In it's simplest form, Kirigami is how we learn to make paper snowflakes by cutting folded paper.

"Architectural origami is the art of paper cutting to create 3D 
buildings - from just one sheet of paper! The designs range from 
the simple to the exceptionally intricate, and the subject matter can
 be anything from a whole city to a famous landmark or even your own house.
This page will focus on 90° pop-up buildings and detailed shapes, 
where the 3D design emerges and is fully visible when the paper
 is folded to an angle of 90 degrees. That means that this technique 
is well suited to making impressive pop-up cards as well"

 In this form, as shown by Marc, it is a delicate, complex and technical art form.

This example by Ingrid Siliakus was inspired by Amsterdam.

I have been following him on Twitter et cetera since his first Kirigami's appeared under the title "Horrorgami". All these pieces were inspired by specific places from horror films which Marc loved and the kirigami of Rosemary's Baby is from that same exhibit. To see Marc in action and talking about his project click on this link and you can see just how complex but tiny his designs actually are.

For the past few weeks, he has been teasing his followers with little hints and clues to his next project. I pretty much guessed what it was like many others but today he announced that he was planning a Star Wars inspired exhibition of cut scenes from the movies.

credit Paper Dandy

Yes, Star Wars fans this is a tiny kirigami of the scene from The Empire Strikes Back after Han Solo is put in carbonite. Oooh it's so detailed. Imagine how small this is as it's made from 1 sheet of A4 paper, .................. yes 1 sheet!

He's not affiliated with the Star Wars peeps in anyway by the way. However he has begun a Kickstarter fundraising crusade and I thought it would be really great to link up to that just to help him on his way. I'm not expecting anyone to go in there giving thousands of pounds but even if you look and tell someone else who can fund it or give him support in any other way that would be how us crafters help each other. Me well, I want to fund the whole thing but sadly I have no amount of money that great but I might be able to go for a small sum. Whatever, I am hoping I can go and see the final exhibition in London.

Secondly for your Tuesday treats, I give you this little baby..............

...................Princess Charlott Elizabeth Diana.

Yes I know but how do you follow incredible paper crafting? With the amazing ability for the human body to create new life. That's how.

See you next Tuesday x