I still have scrapbooks which I made in the 1970’s and which kept me occupied for hours on end during the long school holidays when home alone. A Villa scrapbook is my pride and joy; A picture and write up of Chris Nicholl scoring all 4 goals ina 2-2 draw with Leicester 1n 1976, the same week as he won a cap forNorthern Ireland. Brian Little with long hair and news cuttings about the numerous trophies that Villa won in that decade.  1976 was clearly a good year for a scrapbooking fan as I also have one of the Montreal Olympics with special focus on the gymnast Nadia Comaneci the first person to score a perfect “10”. Wonderful memories of a sports-mad childhood.

Of course it didn’t stop there. As soon as Will could write I encouraged him to keep scrapbooks of his holidays writing down everything we did and sticking photos, tickets, leaflets and pictures on the pages. Every now and again I get these out of the cupbaord and have a laugh. It’s great fun to look back and remember the stories behind the photos.

Scrapbooking and journalling today however is a completely different exercise. Instead of the traditional muted thick recycled scrapbook paper, there are beautiful papers, embellishments, flowers, stamps, journal tags, altered art, distress inks, brads and ribbons to construct your pages with and you can be as flambouyantly creative or minimalist as you like. Whatever mood you find yourself in, there will be a scrapbook page just waiting to escape onto paper.

I have found that scrapbooking is both relaxing and artistically challenging and a great way to unwind. In the last few months I have been inundated with requests to consider “teaching” scrapbooking or holding scrapbooking crops so that groups of scrapbookers can seek inspiration from each other. Some people have also asked me to create scrapbooks for them or their family as presents using  family photos. For me however scrapbooking is not just making pretty pictures. It’s a very personal thing and most of my inspiration comes from the stories and history behind the pictures rather than the photo itself. Colours, patterns, the layout and overall effect comes from knowing my subject and I compliment that knowledge by using various techniques. This is what makes it special.

Scrapbooking reflects an individual’s personality and taste, their creativity and patience. It is very simple especially as there is no right or wrong way to do it. I have developed a certain style and I favour certain colours over others. Some like the pages, others aren’t so keen. Likewise, some pages appeal to me more than others.

Why not have a go and create your own scrapbook using family photos, facebook comments, school reports or newspaper cuttings just to start. You’ll be surprised how much stuff you have around which can be used to make special memories.

Here are some of mine;


Colour inhalation

No, I’m not going crazy but, prompted by a trusted friend of mine who just happens to practise reflexology, crystal healing and all those wonderful new-agey things that I love I have been breathing in the colours of the rainbow all week and have to admit that I like it. All you need is an open mind and a belief that inhaling colours can stimulate, relax, rebuild and cleanse.

As a highly sensitive person (HSP) colour inhalation makes sense and when my world becomes too hectic and unbalanced I sit and practise my deep breathing as usual only now it is enhanced by inhaling the most beautiful shades of blue-violet-purple which are purported to induce relaxation, promote sleep and relieve anxiety. It works for me but I have to be mindful that I don’t miss my station or fall asleep at my desk.

After just a week I think that heaven must be indigo. Peaceful, safe and calm.  

Alternatively, if you need a kick up the backside or some intellectual stimulation you could always try red, orange and yellow/gold. Shades of green and turquoise are said to be healing and cleansing, reducing pain and accelerating the healing process balancing body, mind and spirit. Even if you are sceptical about the physical, mental and emotional effectiveness of colour inhalation, it just feels nice. It’s win win so give it a try next time you have a few minutes to chill out.

Rainbow high.

Where I live in 80 treasures (3)- JLT Crafts, Lutterworth

When I set out to give you an idea of the area in which I live by describing 80 treasures, I did say that some would be unexpected and a little offbeat. My treasures don’t have to be stately homes, National Trust or English Heritage properties or of particular intellectual interest. They just have to be treasures for me.

I discovered such a treasure last week when searching the internet for craft supplies in my vicinity. During periods of low mood I find it therapeutic to sit quietly and be creative. Lost in my own world of papers, buttons, brads and stickers, I get absorbed in writing my blog, poetry, photography, water-colour painting or scrap-booking. Whatever the mood takes.

This week I have been quite happy to sit and create more pages for Will’s scrapbook which I started last year. The great thing about scrap-booking is that you can keep coming back to it as and when you feel like it and if you put it away for a few months it doesn’t matter. It’s a work in progress.

It’s always wonderful however to find a source of supplies and inspiration and if that happens to be coupled with only a 15 minute drive from home and a warm, friendly welcome, what more can I ask? This was what I got at JLT Crafts in Lutterworth, a business that has been open only since October last year but deserves to be a huge success if the client service (I was offered a cup of tea whilst browsing), varied selection of products and ease of access counts for anything.

I will be returning as and when I feel the need and in the meantime if you are into card-making or scrap-booking, try JLT Crafts. You won’t be disappointed.

This is what I’ve been up to this week.

Pink sheep to match pink laptop?!

I was driving from Glasgow to Edinburgh along the M8 earlier today with my colleague John when, in the middle of a perfectly normal conversation, we both did a double-take, shook our heads and looked at each other as if we couldn’t believe our eyes. Was it the tuna salad that caused such amazing hallucinations? If so I’m going back for more.

But no, it wasn’t the tuna salad. There really was a field of pink sheep on our left as we drove past in disbelief.

Now I know I have just treated myself to a pink laptop, and my phone cover is pink, and I have any number of girly pink items around the house but I never expected to see pink sheep.

I was too slow to get my camera out to take a picture so I googled them when I got to the office  just to make sure we weren’t dreaming and here they are. Pink sheep.

Apparently the farmer is well-known in the area for dyeing his sheep different colours apparently to provide some interest for the poor souls who have to drive along that stretch of the M8 regularly. What a great idea and it gave us a few laughs!

Thank you Mr Farmer.

Pyramid Business Park, Bathgate-spray-painted sheep

Leave your bananas (and other football weapons) at home boys!

One of my newest Facebook friends happens to be a vintage (sorry, couldn’t resist that word) Aston Villa fan. Actually he is slightly older than me but what’s  12 months between fellow supporters? My first match at Villa Park was in 1969 so we are talking several years, League Cups, European Cup and yo-yoing between the divisions here. One lazy afternoon we got to reminiscing about the good old days in the 3rd Division and I remembered that I still have my football rattle from the early 1970’s. Whatever happened to football rattles, the vuvuzela of their era?

Whilst I don’t recall their demise, I do remember being told to “shut up” by a grumpy man standing in front of me but when you are ten years old you don’t want to consider the consequences of relentlessly swinging a brand-new-110 decibel (honestly they were loud) football rattle in someone’s right ear do you? They were banned from grounds in the 1970’s for being potential hooligan weaponry. Fair enough I guess. But it got me thinking about some of the other banned items you can’t take to your seats now.

We are going to watch Aston Villa play Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup this afternoon and as usual we will be without our…..

Bottle tops- Yes folks, you have to forfeit the cap off your bottle of coke before taking your seat. This is to prevent you from throwing it at opposition supporters or the players on the pitch. I understand that they really do hurt if a coin is lodged in the cap too.

Umbrellas-Yep. I had my umbrella confiscated at Villa Park and was given a raffle ticket in return to retrieve it after the game. Thinking about it I suppose that I could have hit or stabbed someone with it, or launched it javelin style onto the pitch.

Bananas- My favourite. What am I going to do without my banana? Apparently when Arsenal were still playing at  Highbury local police deemed that oversized inflatable novelty bananas could, by obstructing spectators’ views, incite violence. One match night police video cameras  scanned the terraces for illicit giant bananas and confiscated them! How funny and how ludicrous. I get why flares, fireworks, flagpoles, knives (!), glass bottles and skateboards are banned but bananas? You’re having a laugh.

So today, I will go armed with my spare bottle top in my pocket, my Villa Christmas antlers which flash in the dark and my lucky scarf but I think I’ll leave my banana at home.



I had to laugh to myself when I randomly opened a page in a book I was looking at and came across this series of statements with the question, “Which of these apply to you?”

  • I look after my diet
  • I exercise regularly
  • I spend at least 30 minutes a day doing nothing
  • I meditate often
  • I drink fewer than 3 cups of coffee a day
  • I am comfortable with silence
  • I plan my day
  • I work in a job I like
  • My efforts are recognised by my superiors
  • I take regular holidays
  • I am seldom bored
  • I have a pet
  • I have an active social life
  • I can see the positive side of change

I laughed because I didn’t even need to look at the title of the chapter to guess correctly that it was about stress and how it can be “measured”.

I laughed more because all the things listed above can reduce stress and I still don’t do many of them. And then I cried.

I cried because most of these tasks are simple and should be an automatic part of anyone’s day but I still find them difficult to put into practice. I should look after my diet,  I should get enough exercise, I should take time to relax and take holidays. I should do a lot of things but they just don’t get done.

So trying to take a positive approach I am going to think about small changes I can make so that the next time I come across questions like these, instead of laughing ironically, I have a nice, smug smile on my face instead. 🙂

Doing things differently (4) Declutter

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” -Leonardo da Vinci

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” -William  Morris

Gandhi could count his possessions on his fingers. Objects he could not live without. I cleared out my handbag the other evening and the great Gandhi would have been horrified. I fluctuate between planning for all emergencies and minimalist. I hate dusting and cleaning and so I don’t have much clutter around the house but my personal clutter fills drawers, cupboards,  a double garage and attic.

I have to admit that I do feel better in myself, certainly more in control, when things are in their place neat and tidy, organised and catalogued. It helps my mood, and avoids me spending wasted hours searching for stuff right under my nose.

De-cluttering needn’t be the huge task of tackling everything at once. Not a good idea. But broken down into smaller tasks, de-cluttering a drawer, a handbag or rearranging a bookshelf can be immensley satisfying and manageable for most.

What do you do with the stuff that you no longer want or need? You can give it to charity, recycle, sell it on E-Bay or, if you want to have some fun time with your friends why not hold a Swishing Party?

How do you decide what to get rid of?

What would you save if you had a house fire?
Apart from essential items, what couldn’t you live without?
Does it fit? Is it useful? Do I love it?

A weekend is an ideal time to start de-cluttering and you can get the whole family involved. Kids love having a garage sale selling toys and games no longer wanted and you may have a budding entrepreneur waiting in the wings!

Give it a go.

De-cluttering Tips

Zen Habits-15 Tips

Zen Habits-18 x 5 mins Tips

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Moneysavingexpert-selling on Ebay

A Ton up on P.O.E.T.S Day

Whoop! Whoop! A double celebration today. Not only is it my favourite day of the working week FRIDAY, but this is also my 100th post since starting my blog back in November.

As Fridays go however, this is not shaping up to be one of the best. My hubby is in bed with flu, and without my chef and chauffeur I am completely lost. I even burnt my toast this morning, gave up and had Shreddies instead-what a quitter.

Now it’s a few years since I had Shreddies for my breakfast, and I wonder if I am the only person who has missed the fact that Shreddies are lovingly “Knitted  by Nanas”? What is all this about? Knitted cereal? What are they knitted from? How many Nanas do the knitting? Where do they sit? Nana Knitting factories? I’m clearly behind the times  and to be honest with all this swine flu about if I had known that Nanas sit and knit Shreddies en-masse, I’d have stuck with Weetabix.  Mmmm… I wonder if the Health & Safety brigade has looked into this? It can’t be hygienic can it?

So long December, welcome 2011

It doesn’t seem five minutes since I was writing ” So long November, hello December” promising to make this last month of 2010 a more sedate and calm affair. What a laugh. Despite my best intentions, it seems like I have been busier than ever, but then that’s what New Year’s Resolutions are for.

December was dominated by the weather. Snow, ice, blizzards and sub-zero temperatures like I’ve never experienced (since I was born in February 1963) all combined to wreak havoc with my travel plans  making my final 2010 visit to my colleagues in Scotland impractical. Christmas was white, albeit that no snow actually fell near home that day, but we still managed to keep to our original plan of having a Barbecue instead of the traditional roast. The snow did melt in time for our annual Lubenham village walk which led to copious amounts of sludge being brought back to the pub for well-deserved stew and dumplings. It’s not nice being hosed down in December in the car park !

My fund-raising Santa Run scheduled for 5th December in Greenwich Park was cancelled due to the dangerous conditions, but I did fulfil my part of the bargain by completing the run on my treadmill resplendent in Santa costume. Another first and I raised a total of £1,500.00 for the Depression Alliance.

I am still enjoying writing my Blog and I am never short of things to say, just the time to write. In the New Year I will be spending more time trying to keep fit so I may not be so prolific with my posts in 2011…we’ll see.

Yet more lovely new friends this month; Andrew may be regretting his Facebook friend request which he fired off early in December. I’m not sure he fully realised what he was letting himself in for being a fellow (very depressed ) Aston Villa fan of 40 years standing and having so much in common. Andrew I apologise now for being so verbal and opinionated but you seem to be coping admirably! I also welcome Carole, fellow depressioneer as well as Will Gibson from Reading University hoping to climb Scarfell Pike on New Year’s Day to raise funds for MIND. What an inspiration this guy is.

Will’s Fundraising page

As well as welcoming new friends, I had to say “Goodbye” to two friends at work, both of who have fantastic new opportunities awaiting them in the New Year and thoroughly deserved too. Whilst I will miss Nicky and Emma when visiting Birmingham, I wish them all the best in their new roles and know that we will keep in touch regardless. “Good Luck Girls-Kick Ass”.

Dream Alliance won’t have the chance to defend his Welsh National crown this year, the race is postponed until January 8th. I will still be cheering him on and will no doubt have a few pennies on his back (but can’t watch) hoping that he repeats his remarkable feat of last Christmas-a real Dream come true.

All in all not a bad month and Christmas was far less stressful than usual. Perhaps that was because I ignored it as far as possible but now feel very guilty for not sending my son a Christmas card. Next year, I may feel more festive and do the job properly. Or I might be able to persuade the family to decamp to Iran. Now that would be a really cool Yule.