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Monthly Archives: January 2013

My love for Polish paper supplier Sodalicious is no secret, so it’s no surprise that I love their blog too, with its colourful layout ideas and art journal challenges.

It inspired me to start an art journal. Something to be messy in, to try things out and make mistakes. I am usually very controlled about art – everything is planned and measured, drawn up in pencil and templates. And being so controlled and striving for perfection often stops me from trying new things. And sometimes doesn’t feel so satisfying as just going for it. So, since I discovered through 30 Days of Lists that I am most creative and decisive when I have the pressure of a time limit, I have taken up the Sodalicious art journal challenge.

art journal cover
Now, so far my cover is distinctly un-messy. I covered the front of an A4 sketchpad with a wallpaper offcut and added some chipboard letters. It’s a little boring right now, but I imagine I’ll keep adding bits and bobs to it as I go.

The first art journal challenge of the year was to create something in the theme of ‘Something New’. So suitable for a New Year challenge, and great for me as I begin a whole new stage of my life. I created this page using almost entirely Sodalicious supplies, from the background paper to most of the letters, and even using a Sodalicious stencil for the chevron details. My favourite part was definitely flinging paint onto paper with wild abandon (while kneeling over my bath, since the messiness should probably be restricted to the page, rather than the walls).

Something new art journal challenge

Naturally after spending a few hours one afternoon creating this page of wishes and hopes for 2013, I forgot about it entirely until after the deadline passed. Ooooooops. So, before I do the same again, here is my entry for the art journal challenge number 19, with the theme ‘Brainstorm’

Brainstorm art journal challenge

I went for a more literal interpretation for this one. It’s funny timing – I was speaking on the phone to my Dad recently, who asked me what the weather was like in my head. My Dad is a bit of a weirdo so it didn’t seem like a particularly odd question – in fact we branched out into discussing the things that we keep in our heads too. Mine felt very heavy, like a grand piano; his felt rusty. These comments incurred strange looks from the strangers I was walking past in the street.

So, since the weather in my head is a little stormy lately, I’ve created my ‘brainstorm’ with black clouds moving across a blue sky, a jumble of thoughts, thunder, lightning. There’s a lot of paper scraps thrown in there, with bits ripped or cut out of magazines, messy paint, streaky yellow oil pastels, and some bold alphabet stickers. (I got a little ahead with myself with the month there though). Finally, a couple of Sodalicious elements by the way of chipboard embellishments to add a little geometric interest to the page. I like that this is messy – I stuck down lots of things without thinking about what came next and I grabbed what was to hand instead of sorting through my paper stash for co-ordinating patterns. I want to be even messier next time – that is my mission!

I definitely recommend art journalling for those looking for a little inspirational push – you may be surprised with how it all comes together!

Recitethis screenshot

I’ve been meaning to post about www.recitethis.com for ages – this site started up last summer and is an exceptionally cool tool for turning quotes, expressions or personal mantras into visually interesting images. It’s oh so simple to use, although may take a few attempts to render the image as it does seem to get stuck on ‘Connecting 0%’ if you’re an Internet multi-tasker (so, top tip: give it your undivided attention for a moment or two). Your creation can then be shared on a variety of mediums including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, or can be downloaded for your own use.

I had a little fun with some Ogden Nash quotations, a hilarious genius if ever there was one.

Candy is Dandy but Liquor is Quicker
Ogden Nash happiness
Ogden Nash parsley
Ogden Nash panther
Ogden Nash waxed the floor
Ogden Nash weaker sex

For a huge range of examples, check out Pinterest for SO MANY Recite This generated images, including a good mix of inspiring and hilarious expressions.

I’d love to hear if anyone has a go themselves!

This is a far, far longer and more heartfelt blog post than is normal, but on the plus side there are some mixed metaphors about fishes and cycling, dramatic stories of near-death experiences, a child falling over and a conga chain of dogs riding bicycles…

fish riding bicycle

Images via Wikimedia Commons: Stout beardfish (brilliant name) and 1990s ladies bicycle, put together by yours truly

What’s that expression about a fish riding a bicycle? Well, if the break-up clichés are true, not only are there plenty more fish in the sea, but apparently at some point you also need to get back in the saddle. In order to find those fish. In the sea. See, that’s where the metaphor gets confusing.

It’s easy to focus on the positives in life when it comes to blogging, maybe because this online world can be whatever we choose it to be. We create our own personas and will be judged only on what we choose to show. I love blogging, and that’s partly because I can be the version of myself online that I want to be all the time. Blogging about interesting or exciting things pick me up when I’m not quite myself in real life. But it’s time for me to be real: life is hard right now. I am struggling with the day to day. I am struggling to see a future where I will be ready to get back in the saddle, let alone be in the kind of state where I could find a new fish. Because I’m not sure I’m a whole fish myself right now.

Ok, am I stretching the metaphor here? I can’t tell. It’s making me feel vaguely Little Mermaid-y.

My break-up happened almost three months ago, but I’ve only really been able to process everything that this means since I actually moved out of our shared flat a couple of weeks ago. And some days the absence of this man I loved so much is almost too huge to bear. When I was younger I suffered from depression for a few years – and despite those being pretty key rites of passage kind of years, that whole stage of my life is a blur; hazy memories of friendships and half-hearted studying and a physically repressed feeling, kind of similar to claustrophobia. When I look back on what I remember from that time now it’s like watching a TV show from underwater. And I have been so scared – and still in fact am – that that feeling would return to me now. So I am working hard (with the support of really lovely friends and family) on keeping myself positive and physically healthy, as well as sharing and communicating, to pull myself out of this. This rare ‘what I am actually feeling right now’ blog post is a part of that.

I am not good at being brave. Which is possibly why this break-up is hitting me so much harder than I had expected, and so much harder than other break-ups over the years. Because in this relationship I had been brave, and totally let go. I was entirely convinced that this was ‘the one’. And now with the wise old eyes of hindsight I can see that the relationship was far from perfect, and I was not entirely myself while I was in it. But at the time I was totally trusting in it. I was this girl:

So, to return to the metaphor… almost two years ago I had a bike accident. I was mountain biking with a couple of guy friends at the bike trails at Glentress Forest in the Scottish Borders. Being a not particularly brave person, I took the rear in the exciting down-y slopes so that I could take a moment to sum up the courage for each big drop and retain some vague feeling of control, which actually helped me let go of being scared and just enjoy it. After a while I got into the swing of it. And then, as we flew down quite a steep gravel track running between the woodland trails, a stranger in front of us braked suddenly. My friend Mike went into the back of him, and flatmate Chris crashed into him. I remember seeing this pile-up of bikes and cyclists and thinking I had to brake. And that’s the last thing I remember.

For the next half hour, I had goldfish brain – I would ask Chris why we were in the forest, why there were other people’s clothes laid on me, who was this stranger sitting next to me, and then about 40 seconds later I would ask him the same questions again. Gradually I began remembering the answers  he was telling me – we had been mountain biking, we had had an accident, I had hit my head pretty hard, I was in shock and had become very cold, this was a park ranger, paramedics were coming… My bike helmet, split up one side, was in my lap. Eventually an ambulance came and asked me where I lived (no idea), who the Prime Minister was (Nick Clegg? – haha, clearly even head-injury Debbie couldn’t stomach the idea of a Tory Britain) and gave me some gas and air. I was kept in overnight for observation and released (still in my bloody mountain-biking clothes) 24 hours later to return to the flat which I now remembered clearly. It took me a couple of weeks, but I recovered. I got to keep my cracked helmet and my discharge papers have ‘amnesia’ written on them, which makes me feel pretty soap opera-y.

scraped up bicycle helmet

But, here’s the thing: while the tale eventually had a happy ending, I haven’t cycled since. I was never a particularly frequently cyclist, and I hate trying to cycle in a country covered in hills, but I actually enjoyed riding a bike. I used to au pair in Italy and an afternoon cycle became my absolute favourite thing. Even though this wasn’t my first near-death cycling experience! A 19 year-old Debbie once took a seriously wrong turn cycling along a busy Italian road and I found myself riding an old fixed-gear granny bike with a basket and no lights through a major Italian galleria (a tunnel through a mountain) without road lights, pavement or hard shoulder. I had to cycle for about fifteen minutes as cars honked at me while zooming past , and I honestly believed I would die. The expression “light at the end of the tunnel” has never been more appropriate than when I finally rounded a corner, saw daylight, and realised that I was going to make it.

So, following my second near-death cycling experience,  this lack of bravery has now stopped me from getting back in the bicycle saddle. But I desperately don’t want it to stop me getting back out there socially, to be confident with new people and one day find a new fish. I’m not exactly searching for one yet, but in true rebound fashion, I am instantly developing major crushes on any eligible bachelor I speak to. But I find myself nervous and awkward. I went out this weekend and our small group of normally-dressed females in skirts or jeans and regular colour skin was surprisingly popular in a club full of teeny tiny dresses, push up bras and orange faces. So I talked to a few men. And I either mocked their outfit choices (drunken Debbie is MEAN!) or made incredibly awkward self-depreciating jokes. I think I need some practise here.

I don’t believe that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. (see, I remembered it eventually). Because I know how amazing it feels to be with someone that you consider a partner. I guess I have to keep that in mind when I think about the future. But right now I need to focus on being a whole me… a whole fish. And stop falling in love with strangers. And maybe start cycling again? After all, if these dogs can do it, what possible excuse can I have?

So after all that, I think what I am saying is: I’m going to be brave, I’m going to persevere, and the bicycle is there, so when I am ready I will get back on it.

And also: always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. Seriously.

A Polish friend had a birthday this weekend, so I decided to make him a card. Partly because making at least six cards in the next six months is part of my Working List, but also because I adore the paper ranges of I Lowe Scrap and spend way more money than I should online at Sodalicious, Poland’s finest scrapping supplier! So I had a bunch of Polish alphabets and papers that seemed just right for the occasion.

card making ingredients

Supplies used: ILS Tis the Season 05-06, ILS Tis the Season 01-02, ILS Vivid 01-01, ILS alfabet miętowy, Fiskars border punch, star punch, 1 inch circle punch, corner rounder (seriously, didn’t realise I had such a variety of punches!) and washi tape. I also used some yellow stickers at the last minute to punch the star details out of, which aren’t shown.

I sketched up a wee design of the card layout I was thinking of beforehand, since I don’t do this all that often. Sometimes ‘winging it’ with craft projects for me means ending up with sticky fingers and a strange assortment of mismatched paper shapes/yarn/sequins… So here’s what I drew up:

card layout

And this is what I created! I’m pretty happy with how all the shades and patterns of the I Lowe Scrap range compliment each other, and all the circles – gotta love the circles.

Lucas birthday card

1/6 handmade cards created! And that’s a teeny tiny step towards completing my Working List.

Ah, the alliteration.

Here are some funky freebies I’ve been collecting from different corners of the Internet to mark the beginning of 2013 and with which you can mark off the days that follow! Click the images or links below to visit the crafty creators’ pages…

Sweet New Year calendar
Free Printable “Sweet New Year” calendar by Amy Ross of Eat Drink Chic – download it here.

january2013 calendar 91 magazine
January desktop background (let’s just pretend we’re not half way through already) from 91 magazine – here (via Heart Handmade).

The Best is Yet to Come
Love Party Printables’ 2013 calendar is downloadable from Catch My Party here, and there’s a whole set of matching party printables there too!

Love Mae downloadable desktops
These downloadable desktops are released each month from Love Mae, one of my favourite blogs that makes me feel unashamedly girly. Get January’s here or wait a while for the brilliant March design which will instantly be at home on my laptop!

That’s all for today, have amazing weekends folks!

Meredithe over at Pomegranate and Chintz has been spreading the organisation inspiration by publicly announcing a Working List of ten craft projects and encouraging others to do the same.

The idea is, you list ten WIPs (Works In Progress), UFOs (Unfinished Objects), ideas or designs you’d like to work on, and then you do it. So simple! This is great for me. I am a Procrastinator. An Unfinisher. An Easily Distractable. I get half way through a project and then see something else I’d like to start, and like a fickle fool I drop one for the other. Chances are I finish neither. I’m the same with books – and will be talking more about the solution for that sometime soon too!

With this Working List I am publicly naming and shaming them. Ten projects that I will be working on from now. And since I know what I can be like (an easily distracted procrastinator who never finishes anything), I won’t let myself begin something new until I finish something off my list first. I know for sure I want to do 30 Days of Lists in March (sign-up opens 4th February!) so I need to get at least one of these projects completed in the next two months in order to do so guilt-free. Shamefully I have more than ten projects on the go right now, so this list will be my focus to get things done, until finally I have walls of handmade artwork, lovely personal gifts to give and definitely not a cupboard full of half-completed items.

Typography painting updates01 Typography painting
I was given a set of canvasses last Christmas (in 2011!) and chose to use the biggest one to paint an A-Z in different fonts and colours. It was a lot of fun to plan and begin but I gradually seemed to lose momentum and enthusiasm for this and haven’t touched it for over six months. Most of the base colours are on but I’d like to work on the texture and depth of the letters, and perhaps rough it up a bit – at the moment it seems flat and dull to me. The canvas is so large that this is probably the biggest project in terms of both time and space demands.

02 Knit an entire scarf
So far I have two lines. Learning to knit has been slow-going… I am yet to demonstrate the rhythmic clickety-clack that many knitters seem to have mastered!

03 A photo album for Laura
Beautiful Dutch Laura is well worthy of a photo album. I started this when she moved away from Edinburgh, two whole years ago. The ridiculous thing is that it’s almost complete, but now it’s two years out of date!

Two clipboard pinboards04 Clipboard Décor

I posted about these two clipboard pinboards I created for my old flat months and months ago. I really liked these at the time, even though the cork coasters made them totally unbalanced and wonky, and the washi tape wasn’t especially well colour-coordinated. Now I just want to refresh them – remove the coasters and the lengths of washi and cover them with some interesting paper or fabric instead. I’d like to continue using them to organise myself in my new flat for the new me.

05 Pattern book
Something I started to prepare for the screen-printing course that sadly fell through in November. I have no purpose for this book now, but I like the idea of collecting and sketching patterns. This is not the project I am most excited about, but will probably be one of the quickest to complete, since once I start doodling I often find it hard to stop!

wax crayon painting
06 Wax crayon painting
Ok, this one is a lot of fun. I saw this idea on Pinterest and decided to give it a go myself a few months ago. It’s super simple; all it takes is some wax crayons, a canvas and a hair-dryer (or some other source of heat). I built up a layer of wax crayon drips in purples, blues and greens, but soon discovered that the individual shades were almost indistinguishable, and some of the darker colours didn’t stand out so well on the darker-than-expected navy blue that I’d painted the canvas. So, while I’d planned to make another painting using the brighter, warmer colours from the crayon box, instead I’ll combine them all onto this one canvas. Since getting this far I’ve seen some really cool designs using the dripping wax – instead of a bunch of straight down wax drips that is! Until I begin anything more exciting with wax, I must complete this one – a straightforward wax crayon canvas should be an easy evening activity.

07 Mixed paper Minibooks
This is one thing I’m just itching to work on. In the last year I have totally fallen for all the colours and patterns of scrapbooking paper. And while I’m still not a scrapbooker, I do seem to be accumulating beautiful papers. I’ll be making a minibook for March’s 30 Days of Lists and would like to make a few more while I’m at it, for friends, family or even Etsy!

Laura birthday card08 Handmade cards
It’s totally crazy that while I have a couple of large boxes of interesting card and paper, alphabets and embellishments, I still find myself buying expensive and generic last minute birthday cards for people. I made this handmade card for Laura last September (apparently she is the most frequent recipient of my handcrafting!) and really enjoyed making something personal for her birthday – it was also surprisingly simple and quick to create.

Making handmade cards is more of a habit that I’d like to curate rather than a specific project. So for this list item I’ll set myself the goal of six handmade cards within the next six months. This allows for real life to get in the way, but I can always cross this item off sooner if I reach my goal quicker than that!

09 Postcard wall art
I just bought three different postcard box sets. It felt incredibly lavish of me. I also recently broke a large clip glass photo frame – leaving me with a sizeable ready-to-hang piece of chipboard. Oh, and my new bedroom has a large wall begging for a feature. So, how exactly these items will be combined I am yet to decide, but I am excited at the possibilities…

10 Font book
A while ago Emily Jeffords shared some attractive new fonts on her blog Beautiful Hello and mentioned her Font Book, which made me think of an actual book of fonts. While it turns out she was talking about her computer’s font library, the idea of flicking through a big shiny book filled with my favourite typography sounds glorious, and would also be a pretty useful resource for design projects. At the moment this is purely an idea, but I see a Blurb book in my future.

And that’s it! I’ll be keeping this list updated monthly and/or as I check things off it, since that’s the whole point of publicly committing to a working list. In fact, what better time to launch the new ‘Projects’ page of this blog – up the top there just under the ‘About Me’ tab. It’s a page to collect together all of my favourite and current projects – the things I aspire to do more of!

So, I moved! It was hard work. My arms ache and I am tired. But I am now finally in my new home for my fresh start. And the experience proved what I had already suspected: I have some of the best workmates in the world. A few kind friends brought their muscles, vehicles and enthusiasm to move my (surprisingly plentiful) piles of boxes and mismatched furniture from the comfortable modern flat that I’ve shared with the recent ex to the homely yet eccentric flat-share I’ll now be living in. Aside from the hours of sorting and packing beforehand, the entire move miraculously took just over an hour. And now I only have a few more hours of furniture assembly, rearranging and unpacking to do!

debbiedoesdoodles new space 1
debbiedoesdoodles new space 2
debbiedoesdoodles new space 3

This is my new bedroom – before all the boxes of possessions arrived! I love the large, light, bay windows and the beautiful fireplace, even if both are a little old and draughty. I also love the vintage light fitting at the entrance to my room, although I can’t figure out what one of the switches does!

The rest of the flat is equally quirky. Bookshelves line the hallway, including around the curved walls, and are filled with books from almost every genre. Which is likely to be handy for the 13 in ’13 reading challenge! An assortment of tea is stored in a fake sink with no taps, our food is kept in a walk-in pantry and the kitchen units contain collections of interesting teapots and cups and saucers. It’s a change for me to be in an old flat with it’s associated upkeep ‘niggles’, but it’s got lots of character and so far the flatmates seem friendly and fun. And fans of both Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead! Result.

So, I plan to turn this space into somewhere I can both sleep and be creative – plans are afoot which I will share here as soon as possible. I absolutely love seeing how other people organise their creative spaces and I can’t wait to have a proper place of my own for creativity – even if it’s just a small corner and features an interesting whistle when the wind blows hard enough!

Something embarrassing happened to me recently.

In Scotland, it’s not unusual for someone to tell you a wee story.

wee adj.

[Scots] Very small; tiny

That is not what this is.

So I was travelling on a train on New Years Day, from London to Edinburgh. It’s almost a five hour journey and I knew I’d be hungover (which indeed I was), so I’d booked a first class ticket. Ordinarily that’d be crazy talk but on this occasion first class was only £8 more expensive than standard, which is well worth it considering the endless supply of tea, cold drinks, snacks and sandwiches that are then thrust upon you during your journey. Not to mention the free Wi-Fi and general feeling of sophistication as you lounge on your extra comfy seat.

The East Coast train line has those big toilets with the automated sliding doors. They’re disabled-friendly. They look über modern. They have big flashing buttons to open and close the doors. And to lock the doors.

To lock the doors, Deborah.

debbiedoesdoodles Toilet Door buttons

So there I was, mid-flow, when an unsuspecting fellow passenger hit ‘Open’. And then the door gently slid open. It seemed as though it was in slow motion, but in reality the door just opened that slowly. Reeeeeaaaallly slowly. The equally embarrassed man tried to close the still-opening door, but these doors are ingeniously designed so that you can’t close them until they’re all the way open. So there I sat, as the door slid open. I made a horrendously awkward joke about my worst nightmare coming true because WHAT DO YOU SAY in this situation?! And there I sat still as the door slid all the way closed again. Then I hurriedly hit ‘LOCK’ and cursed myself, possibly aloud, for thinking I had done so already.

greetin’ match n.

[Scots, slang] A sorrowful incident; a bout of tears; an upset

On the plus side: the middle aged stranger saw the funny side; he turned his back rather than standing there watching me pee for thirty seconds; first class was dead quiet meaning that there was no queue of people to gawk at me; a seated lady is possibly more easily made modest; it was nearing the end of my journey; I’m definitely not the first to do it; and finally the tale has apparently been enjoyed by many of my Facebook friends! Hopefully some of you now too.

So, let this be a lesson to us all… Just because the LOCK button flashes… you still have to press it!

If in doubt, whistle loudly.

debbiedoesdoodles | View of Leith

For the last four years I have lived in various different flats (of distinctly different levels of niceness) sharing with a brilliant selection of flatmates, all around Leith in Edinburgh. It has been an amazing four years. I’ve met some really genuine, insane, hilarious and interesting people, done some fascinating work and have absolutely loved living here.

This weekend I’m moving. It’s not far; I hope to still spend time with those great people and will still be doing a job that is different every day, as part of a supportive team that pulls together even when there’s no money and the days drag, and celebrates with enthusiasm and a huge amount of alcohol when something goes our way.

But for the first time in four years, I won’t be doing those things from Leith. Well, except my job, since that’s where I work. Oh, and drinking and eating, since that’s where some of Edinburgh’s best pubs and restaurants are nowadays. So really, it’s just that I won’t be living there. I’ll be an EH7 instead of an EH6 resident.

I’ve taken so many photos of Leith while I’ve been living here, mostly just using my iPhone as I walk around here and there and spot a view I like the look of. Here are those I’ve considered nice enough to share via Instagram over the last year or so, presented in gallery form which means that should you do desire, you can click to view them bigger:

Hopefully there’ll be a new selection of photographs to post here soon; those from my really quite lovely new place in Bellevue. I cannot wait to begin turning that empty room into my own home and forming new relationships with my new flatmates, who so far seem nice and friendly and not axe murderers. One can never be sure when it comes to people you meet over the Internet… 😉

What better way to welcome the new year than with a brand new favourite shade?

Years ago, Pantone Inc. established the first standardised colour matching system that led to reliable printing as well as funky Pantone branded stationery and fashion. For the last few years they have predicted a Pantone ‘Colour of the Year’ with great fanfare and certainty. While critics may denounce this as a marketing ploy, it’s got to be said their colour selection is usually bang on trend.

Pantone colours of the year

Last year’s colour Pantone 17-1463, the deliciously named Tangerine Tango, was definitely still en vogue as the year drew to a close. In fact at some point in autumn I pulled together this little assortment of items available on the British high street that were a vibrant shade of Tangerine. Why I didn’t publish this then I’m not sure, but since I hate to waste good Photoshopping time, here is the collection now! My favourite has to be the beautiful bird dress, which was on sale in Dorothy Perkins for £15 but is sadly no longer in stock – boo!

tangerine tango uk products

So, as 2012 and the Tangerine Tango era is now officially ended, it’s time to embrace a new shade for the new year – which according to Pantone is Emerald 17-5641. Described by the company as a lively, radiant, lush green, to me Pantone’s Emerald is a surprisingly blue-ish tone, closer to jade than the bright Wizard of Oz green I would imagine being described as ’emerald’. But, I like it nonetheless!

Pantone Emerald 2013 colour of the year

I’ve been pinning an entire board of Emerald items recently, and here are a few of my faves:

Emerald fashion Pantone colour of the year

Find these items online: ASOS Gem Drop Earrings £8; Louche Zaza Crayon Print Dress from JOY £45; Dorothy Perkins Green cityscape dress £28; Green Pieces Green Funky Jeggings from New Look £21.99; Dazzle Dust in Parrot Green by Barry M £4.59; Hoxton Satchel from Accessorize £25; Women’s Green Toms Classic Seasonal Cord from Schuh £24.99; Thread Wrapped Ethnic Teardrop earrings from Accessorize £8

On a whim I bought the Hoxton Satchel a month or two ago and absolutely love it. It’s the perfect size, I love the way it looks, and now according to Pantone it’s also uber fashionable. Hooray for accidental trendiness!