My Family & Other Animals

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

"Do You Want To Kiss My Egg..."

Good evening Gentle Reader,
I hope I find you in good health and enjoying the beautiful British weather, it's not often you get to ask that question so it's nice to be able to share with you, especially as you can see the nights starting to close in again. None the less, the X Factor and Strictly are nearly with us again; two of Britain's defining Autumnal/Winter moments and less it should ever slip our overly-cluttered minds, these shows act like little stopwatches ever drawing us closer and closer to Christmas.
But we're not here to talk about the weather or the C word, one is just too dull for words (you wanna know what the weather's like? Buy a window!!) and the other one is still four and a half months away. Having said all that, I am here to do a job of sorts and that is to entice you over to the home of Kenny K's digi's (and his pre-coloured images) and not forgetting our Facebook page Club Kenny K. As it is the 15th, it's time for a new release and a new challenge, as usual it's Anything Goes with a twist; Die Cuts.
For my card I have used "Santa Baby" (available HERE at the very reasonable cost of $3.50 or in a bundle with the 2 other new releases, Dancing Santa and the rather fantastic Santa Selfie, which you can get for the extremely giveaway bundle price of only $8.00! how mad is that?) The dies I have used are a very old Marianne die 'Poinsettia', a leaf die I have no idea about! and a very new one from Spellbinders called Labels 46 Decorative Accents (available from IconUK HERE. A superbly priced UK site that always works out a bit cheaper than everyone else, is always up to date with the latest releases and charges no pounds and no pence for postage, which in this day and age is superb), which is one of the new ones I mentioned in a previous entry.

On to the real world and to something which is probably anathema to most readers of my blog - The Olympics. I am not a massive sports fan but for two weeks every four years I am up through nearly all the night, waiting for one of our lovely boys or girls to win us a little slice of pride in the shape of a  medal (since starting writing this we have won a gold in the Cycling and a silver in the Diving, how awesome is that?). I'm not the only one though 'cause Jo loves the athletics, which made me think maybe one or two of you might like the Olympics too!
I watched Super Saturday and even sat through the bum numbingly Andy Murray tennis match (Yay, Gold!) but the real joy came on (what we call!) Super Dooper Sunday when we watched medal after medal turn up. We cried when they cried, laughed when they cried, we did it all. It really was a special day not just for Sport but for the Country as well, for a short while we are all in the moment, being optimistic and pulling together, willing these super humans on through adversity, bad health and set backs. For the first time in a long time, I am proud to be a British man, so please put your hands awkwardly by your sides and mumble the National Anthem along with me (if of course you know all the words to  "God Save The Queen", I am convinced that only Prince Phillip knows ALL the words!!!),
Anyhoo Gentle Reader, I am away,
to sleep, per chance to dream (after the beach Volleyball),
See you again soon,
Andy
xx

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

"Put Another Dime In The Jukebox Baby..."



Good evening/morning Gentle Reader.

So after a lot of confusion on my part, I am finally making cards for the Kenny K Krew again.
As I'm sure you know, I have been absent from my blog for a while with only sporadic returns when I really felt like I had to do something before I lost you all forever (thank God for Suze being there for me when I eventually came back, your a good 'un kid xoxo). I came back, lost my Mother, came back again, lost my mojo but I can honestly say I am back for good again as my mojo was found, it was under one of the cushions on the sofa that one of the cats sleeps on, you know what it's like - you'd rather not disturb them while they sleep, it always seems so unfair and I could watch my three girls sleeping for hours, it's so relaxing!
Anyhoo, bought some great new gear: I have some amazing new dies coming from Create and Craft, really large and ornate Spellbinders dies, I got some fantastic stamps and dies from Sheena Douglas, there's a rock 'n roll collection which has one of those fantastic 50's microphones on one of them and a set of Carnival of the Dead stamps and dies which I still haven't had time to use. I did however manage to meet the lovely Sheena again at an open day at my favourite craft shop (Let's Create in Coningsby village). I say I saw Sheena, there was only half the woman she used to be who turned up, I didn't recognise her at first she looks so fabulous. I didn't manage to catch which diet she is using but it clearly allows for cake slices so that could be the one for me!!
I have also been getting through a lot of my Copic Ciao's and my plan was that when one of them died on me I would replace it with a Copic Sketch marker as these can be refilled. Of course, I didn't really think it through as when you buy a Sketch you pay anywhere from £4.50 - £6.00 a pen, then you have to buy the ink refills which are usually well over a fiver each (or they have been where I have been looking!). Long story short, I had a load of pens which needed replacing/refilling so I bit the bullet and treated myself to the inks I needed and filled in all the blanks of the red spectrum that I was missing. This has really got my colouring juices flowing and for the last week that's been me, sat on the sofa, surrounded be cats and a pile of digi images and some of the new Lily of the Valley Seasons stamps (very pretty, as you would expect from LOTV).
So get yourself of to the Kenny K facebook page and have a go at this fortnight's new challenge, as always it is Anything Goes with a twist and the twist this time is Christmas in July. I already posted that one (see below) and the image for this post isn't meant to be posted until the 15th (I have JUST realised!!!!!), I guess that means I will have to come back on the fifteenth and remind everyone, which if I'm honest is not the worst thing I have done recently!!
Card features Kenny K's image - Rock Chick. I have used some old dies and some of my absolute favourite paper from Basic Grey, I have only just recently started using it as I always felt it was too precious for cards and should only be used on a scrapbook page (that way I would still own it for ever, Ha Ha Ha!) and yes, I am that mental about my Basic Greys!!
Why they are my favourites is another matter, firstly I just love the design ethos of the company, they are using some very talented artists and I also find that they go together no matter which set I use with which other set!, now that's some clever forward thinking.
So there it is, a small look into the mind of a crafter who is the same as everyone else out there in blogland, say it with me - One to Use and One to Stroke, One to Use and One to Stroke, One to Use and One to Stroke..... you get the picture.
So, Gentle Reader, I shall bid you adieu until the next time we meet,
love 'n hugs,
Andy
x o x o
Entered Into: As You Like It Challenge - Favourite Papers and Why?
Crafting With An Attitude Challenge 18 - Anything Goes/Just For Fun 
Digital Delights By LoubyLou Challenge 12 - Anything Goes (Using a Stamp/Digi) 
DL. Art Thankful Thursday Challenge 185 - Anything Goes
In The Pink Challenge 100 - It's Our Birthday - Anything Goes
Little Miss Muffet Challenge 143 - Anything Goes
Sasayaki Glitter Challenge - August Use A Die Cut
Southern Girls Challenge - Anything Goes with Team Lou!
Crafting By Design - August Anything Goes
Creative Moments Challenge 99 - Anything Goes & DT Call

Friday, 29 July 2016

"Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel..."


Good Day Gentle Reader,
another Friday morning and Jo and I are just getting ready for our usual routine. Get up, feed the kids (that's cats to you, kids to us!), take out as much rubbish as we can carry (have you noticed just how much packaging there is today?) then it's off to Gregg's.
Fortunately they have a shop just over the road from where we live so we don't exactly travel miles, but we really appreciate it for it's convenience. We take our glasses and Kindles (or book if we are feeling nostalgic!), I'll treat myself to a large Latte, Jo a tea and instead of breakfast at home she will usually have a sausage and bacon bap while I always have a 4 cheese and ham toastie. We usually follow up with another drink (Jo switching to Hot Chocolate now!!) and a sweet treat. Jo's weakness is a large shortbread biscuit with a big jammy heart in the top, mine has always been an oat and fruit cookie, that was until last week when they so cruelly took it off their rota, I have no idea if it is to return or when so I have started consoling myself with a Bavarian Slice (oodles of cream, sticky icing on the top! you can see it can't you!). We stay there for hours, chilling out and catching up with a good book, the manageress has told us she doesn't care, it's not like we stop people from sitting down and we spend a good bit of wedge every time we go.
For us, it means we are not totally housebound and we do get to enjoy a little bit of freedom every week. We have had a bit of a break from the shop recently as one of the members of staff was incredibly rude to Jo, so much so that she couldn't face going in the store for fear of going ballistic on the young woman in question.
She complained to the company who offered her an eight pound credit voucher with no mention of what they would do or say to the rude staff member. Jo turned their offer down as she felt she was being bought off and the end result was us missing out on our weekly treat until she could bare to go in the shop again. I supported her fully, after all she was missing her treat as well and I know that that bugged her more than anything else!!

In a totally unrelated topic I have made the above card for the Krafty Krew using one of Kenny's latest images. There are three to collect: Angel Seraphina, Angel Aurora and Angel Nevaeh (I have used Seraphina) and you can get all three for the special price of only $8.00, what a bargain eh!
He has been very busy just lately and he has made not only characters but backgrounds for those characters, which makes life so much easier when you are colouring. For the man in your life there are a couple of very affable gents having a beer and a cigar in what looks like a private reserve vineyard or a chic little bistro. There is a beauty shop background, a walk in wardrobe (filled with lovely clothes and all for free!) and a candy shop. So much for you to see and do and don't forget, if you don't have to time to colour then Kenny has even provided a selection of his characters already pre-coloured, giving you more time to craft other things.
So Gentle Reader, I'm off, it's time to get dressed so I will see you again soon,
take care,
always
Andy
xoxo

Sunday, 26 June 2016

To sleep, perchance to dream....


Hello Gentle Reader, not a long post really, more a chance to let you know why I have once again been absent from my blog.
At the beginning of May my mum died. I know it's been a while but now I am able to talk about it, its still very raw and very painful.
To say we had a complicated past would be an epic understatement. For starters she was actually my Auntie! My mum's brother and his wife divorced and for whatever reasons they may have had, they couldn't for the life of them work out which one wanted me less and so I ended up living with his sister and her family. This was my Auntie Betty, Uncle Llew (or Lou if you prefer), Stephen and Lorraine, their two children and Kim (their psychotic dog!).
I did struggle to call them mum and dad, it wasn't that I didn't want too but my new big sister (cousin actually) threatened me that if I even thought about calling them mum and dad..... use your imagination, she was on the threshold of her teens when I came along and what pre-tween girl welcomes someone else's baby into their parent's arms (we have worked through all that and she even calls me 'bro' now, love ya sis x). To compound the situation Kim was notoriously vicious with a temper that could turn on a dime, so he was replaced by Dolphie, a miniature Poodle!!!
I think Mum and Dad where a little uncomfortable when I first stopped calling them Auntie and Uncle. Gone were the adopted monikers of Auntie Betty and Uncle Lou, but after a few shaky starts we got to the point where they really were my parents, not my aunt and uncle any more.
They were the only parents I had ever known and while my birth parents are still alive, I started to see the whole thing in black and white terms, our relationship had changed and had grown into that of parent and child not Legal Guardians and child!
Time has passed since those days, Dad died very suddenly and unexpectedly and he left a massive hole in all our lives. Mum managed on her own for quite a while until her first big stroke put her in a home, it was then my sister decided she wanted mum under her roof, she wanted to care for her, not a bunch of strangers! 
Things came to a head though when it all got to be too much for my sister to cope with on her own. Mum had terrible health issues including a stroke or two and quite a lot of mini-strokes, she had dementia and she would bruise like a Georgia peach if you brushed past her with a feather boa!!
So she went to live in a home in the same village as my sis, this allowed her time to visit mum each day for as long as she wanted but she also managed to get some of her own life back as well.
Mum may have struggled to remember what she had had for lunch that day but she always recognised her kids whenever we came to see her.
She had the biggest, loveliest smile I have ever seen, the kind that made your heart smile and your soul sing along. She spent a lot of time telling you the same thing, over and over, but she was never boring to be around. She would shrug her shoulders, grin, point at you and say 'you're mine' and off we would be able to go, remembering something else from our shared history.
We would reminisce about dancing the jive together in the living room, something she couldn't persuade my dad to do. I used to go to Ballet, Modern and Tap lessons every week and she was so proud of me, especially at competition time when I was the only lad there and I  used to win loads of medals and awards.
As a ruse to stay up late at the weekends I used to kneel behind her and I would offer to comb her hair. I will never understand the pleasure she took from those times, but I used to love it because dad was either out or had gone to bed and we used to talk about all sorts of things, plus she had me there to stop herself getting scared when we would watch the latest Friday night horror movie double bill on BBC2. She would always say "ten more minutes and then it's bedtime" but it's amazing how often those ten minutes turned into hours if she was enjoying herself,

but that has all changed now, forever.

I no longer have her there to reminisce with but all I have to do is think of her and I see that smile, the only thing that is getting me through this at the moment.

I know I said it wouldn't be a long post but you should know me by now, I never do anything by halves!

So Gentle Reader, take care and I hope to be back with you in the very near future.
My son gets married in two weeks, so that has given me something positive to look forward to, I will put a couple of pictures up when it happens.
So until then, ltake care of yourselves and have a big kiss and hug from me
(go on, while I'm in a giving mood!!).
Love 'n Stuff,
Andy
x o x o

Monday, 25 April 2016

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, and the.... Hang on!


It's only April, so why on earth am I making Christmas cards Gentle Reader? I normally start making my cards about two weeks before the last postage date! So why so motivated this year?
Well, it would appear that my rather industrious wife has been sitting at the craft table, day after day, making a really beautiful card over and over again; so much so, that we now have enough cards for everyone this coming Christmas.
Her card features one of the above Tim Holtz Crazy Birds stamps, a common theme in our house since their arrival! I have used a couple of the birds, who I thought looked perfect standing on each other. I have also used a really rather beautiful sentiment stamp which I know came free with a magazine last year, but please do not ask me to tell you which one it is!, I have bought that many magazines over the years, I really can not begin to say how many, with the total cost being in the thousands of pounds area. Sad really, as they just get thrown out and end up as land-fill somewhere!! I never learn!

On to darker times, the last few months have seen us grow accustomed to losing a lot of very famous people in quite swift succession. By the beginning of February I was beginning to take it all quite personally after not only losing one of my absolute idols David Bowie (he was 69) (he died on January 10th), but Alan Rickman (was 69) (dies on January 14th), Glenn Frey of The Eagles (67) (January 18th)  and then the co-founder and leader of Earth, Wind and Fire, Maurice White (74) (February 4th). EWF were one of my favourite bands of all time, with music that will truly stand the test of time; some of their tracks are now held so dear to me and the nights he helped me though are too numerous to count, but I owe him for every single one.
Then we lost David Gest (62) (April 12th), a very funny man with a massive heart, is how I chose to see him. I know he was quite an unconventional character and a lot of people couldn't see past his looks or that horrendous wedding day kiss to Ex-wife Liza Minnelli!! but I liked him and I think the world seems a little duller for his passing.
A week or so ago, we lost Doris Roberts (90) (April 18th). While she may not be very well known in this country, to me she will always be the definition of a battle-axe wife, a harridan and harpy of the highest order and the long suffering wife of Frank Barone, the biggest Jack-ass of a TV husband ever, played by the very brilliant Peter Boyle (Young Frankenstein) in 'Everybody Loves Raymond'. She struck me as a woman of very little vanity, especially as in the early days of 'Raymond' her make-up was so hideous, she was usually made to look like the bride of Frankenstein with her pasty, whitened face. She had loads of energy and while her heart was probably in the right place, you were never 100% sure that she actually owned a heart!
Now we are up to date nearly and yet in the past week we have been dealt a massive blow by losing both Victoria Wood (a mere 62) (on April 20th) and finally Prince (an even younger 57) (on April 21st). Two genre defining artistes and absolute giants in their chosen fields. Prince has been with us since 1979, gyrating and thrusting his way through one quality piece of modern R 'n B/Funk after another. His singing voice and his musical voice stand on the shoulders of giants and his Purple Majesty shall reign there forevermore. As for Victoria? what can be said about anyone who can make you cry with laughter, not just once but every time they take to the stage or screen. I can remember watching 'As Seen on TV' one Friday night on BBC2 while I was (supposed to be) working nights and she did the '2 soups' sketch. I had people banging on my door checking to see that I was okay because I was laughing so loudly. So I will leave the final words to Victoria, wish her well on her continuing Journey and thanks her for all that she shared of herself with us. This is a brief snatch from Freda and Barry (The 'I Can't Do It' song)

“I can’t do it, I can’t do it,
I’m not exactly Russell Brand.
You’re thwarted:
I’m sorted,
Got the evening’s telly planned;
It’s a pity;
The nitty-gritty:
I’ve taped eleven episodes of Holby City.
I can’t do it, I can’t do it tonight.”
 
And that is where I take my leave Gentle Reader, my time to say Cheerio 'til the next time. I hope I left you with a smile on your face,
Love 'n Hugs
Andy
xoxo

Monday, 11 April 2016

"There's a Starbucks, waiting up the road..."


Good Morning Gentle Reader, hope you have had a lovely weekend. Not sure what your weather was like, but ours was very hit and miss, patches of rain and sunshine but all the while there was a bit of a chill in the air, so much so that it kind of ruined the nicer bits!
Jo and I like to have a little treat on a Friday morning and have been regulars at the local Gregg's which is so convenient, it is virtually across the road from us.
That all came to an end last week however, when one of the young ladies serving Jo really upset her. She was waiting to be served and the majority were all queueing at the first till, Jo however was at the second till and when the girl asked if she was next, she explained that she was ahead of the second in line on the other queue (are you still following this!), well this seemed to baffle the girl completely as she asked Jo again if she was next to be served. Jo politely went through it again for her when the young girl said "Well I'll just serve you to get rid of you". She immediately gasped to herself and put her hand up to her mouth as if trying to stuff the words back in.
Now my wife is a very polite, very proper lady and this really upset her. She virtually screamed out "How Rude", to which most of the customers looked over to see what was going on. When the under-manager came over to see what had happened, Jo was having none of it. She felt humiliated and all she wanted to do was be served so she could leave the counter. When she returned to me and explained what had happened we put our Kindle's away and left the shop.
Jo has vowed to never return to that particular shop and has emailed the company a couple of times so far, with no reply I might add!, that in itself speaks volumes about their customer care.
So we were on a scouting mission to find a new place where we can take our e-readers/books on a Friday morning and have a couple of drinks and a bite to eat, with good staff and decent prices.
Our first port of call this week has been Starbucks on Tritton Road. It's very nice inside, great big comfy sofas and the proper chairs aren't too bad either, quite comfortable really. The staff all seemed to be very friendly and extremely attentive, especially to Jo who went to the counter to buy the drinks etc. They told us they didn't care how long we stayed and unlike Gregg's they didn't add "as long as you are buying something". We had the most gorgeous cheese and ham toastie followed by a large blueberry muffin and all washed down by a large Latte. The prices weren't as cheap as Gregg's but then the atmosphere was one hundred times nicer, so I think Starbuck's could be our new Friday hang out place.
On to today's card and this is a brand new technique for me. I have used the Spectrum Noir AquaTints and as soon as I saw them being demonstrated on C and C I just had to have them. I managed to get the entire range for a silly price and they are proving to be a very good investment. I wouldn't normally buy anything from Crafter's Companion (short story being, I think they steal everyone else's hard work and idea's without giving the credit to the people who slaved over the original versions! Controversial - maybe, but I stand by it), but as I haven't seen these anywhere else, I assume they are an original idea and that should be supported.
Sheena Douglas was the Demonstrator and I absolutely love everything she does, I don't always understand where the ideas have come from (Day of the Dead, India etc) but she has a great sense for thinking outside the box and coming up with things we never knew we needed!
The inks are incredibly easy to use and if used with Sheena's Stamping card they blend perfectly and you can spend as long as you want getting it just right as her cardstock doesn't do that ripping thing when it gets too wet.
The stamps are also Sheena's and as a bit of a softie where cats are concerned it was another essential purchase (I know you know what I mean!!). I hope you like the finished product and feel free to leave a comment, I can handle it!
Anyhoo, take care and I will be back again real soon,
Love 'n Hugs,
Andy
xx
Entered In To:
Artistic Inspirations Challenge 154 - Anything Goes/Twist of Flag Colours
Crafting From The Heart Challenge 107 - Anything Goes
Craft Your Passion Challenge 307 - Always Anything Goes
ElliBelle's Creative Moments Challenge 7 - Anything Goes/Something Coloured
Dream Valley Challenges 129 - Anything Goes
Lost Coast Portal To Creativity Challenge 23 - Anything Goes
Make My Monday Challenge 04 - Pets
Not Just Cards Challenge 31 - April Challenge Always Anything Goes
Oooh La La Creations Challenge 202 - Words
Our Crafty Corner Challenge 8 - Always Anything Goes
Scrapbook Stamp Society Challenge 89 - Anything Goes option Flowers


Friday, 1 April 2016

"I Don't Want To Talk..."


"...About Things We've Gone Through"
or do I? Of course I do. Since when did I not want to talk??
So, gentle reader, what's the reason for the obscure lyrics in the post headline this time?, well my son and future daughter-in-law chose number one from their wedding invite options (pictured below), my son even going so far as to say it was beautiful, which is practically gushing if you know him. He plays his cards very close to his chest at all times does my boy, never knowingly using seven words when one will do, you would think that there was a word shortage and he is the only one with this valuable information!!
Card Number One

Before sending them, we changed the colour of the bow tie to brown, and put it in the top right corner of the wraparound at a 45 degree angle and it made a world of difference to the finished product.
If anyone finds out you are a card-maker and they have a wedding planned, my advice to you would be; think very, very hard about it before committing yourself. I volunteered to do Liam and Holly's and we only had to do 34 Daytime and 26 Evening. Granted we did leave it to the last minute to pull our fingers out and actually start making them, but 60 cards literally took me and my wife a week to do and that was putting in quite a few hours a day, especially for a pair who can't sit in a chair too long without ending up being in crippling pain!!
The job that took up the lion's share of the work was having to cut out the two front panels. I used a die from Create and Craft called Couture and that heart is now officially retired, if I ever see it again it will be too soon. It was a bit of a nightmare to cut out too, having to go through the Grand Calibre for at least three or four passes before getting a halfway decent cut out of the whole die!!
Having said all that and not a word to Jo, I actually enjoyed it and working with my darling wife made a really pleasant change.

On to today's post and I came up with this...
I got the amazing Krazy Kats and Bird Crazy stamps and dies a few months ago and after trawling through Pintrest for some inspiration, I have made quite a few cards now and the birds are officially my favourite set of stamps EVER! The things you can do with them (I have decoupaged the bow tie and I NEVER decoupage anything!), the occasions they are suitable for (especially if you but the accessory stamps/dies too!), the mediums they can be coloured with and the techniques you can use to make their backgrounds with are multitude. I just love these birds to bits, so funny and so forwards thinking of Tim Holtz to even come up with such a clever concept in the beginning is just brilliant. So expect to see a few of these animals peppered throughout my posts through the coming months.
The alpha is from my stash of old Sizzix alphabet die boxes, which should have cost around £75 each and I got them direct from Sizzix for between £5 - £10 each. Of course this was in the good old days when Sizzix used to have a kick-a** sale over Christmas and New Year and you could get some amazing deals, not like today!!
So that's me, busy for a change and loving it. I have just started reading 11:22:63 by Stephen King, a mere pamphlet of a book at just over 1000 pages (Phew!), I am also watching the American TV adaptation at the same time and it is remarkably faithful to the book, it just seems to pack a lot into one show that I doubt I will ever catch it up (especially as it is on episode 7 already!!). Anyhoo, the book is a fantastic read, go try!
So I will bid you adieu and hope to be back really soon,
take care,
love and hugs,
Andyene
xx

Entered Into:
A Beautiful Mess Challenge 001 - Always Anything Goes
Aliciabel Challenge 017 - Anything Goes/Spring
Brown Sugar Challenge 192 - Anything Goes
Chocolate, Coffee and Cards Challenge 106 - Spring Is In The Air
Crafting-With-Friends Challenge 17 - Anything Goes
Crafty Catz Challenge 318 - Decoupage
Creative Artiste's Challenge 14 - Anything Goes (with option to use Chipboard/Stencil or Flowers)
Creative Fingers Challenge 106 - Always Anything Goes
Art By Miran Challenge 55 - Anything Goes
Dragon's Lair Designs Challenge - April Anything Goes
Pattie's Creations Design Challenge 121 - April or Springtime
PDE Linky Party 117 - Anything Goes
Simply Papercraft Challenge 26 - Anything Goes