Sunday, 13 May 2012

Hettie's Diamond Jubilee

Oops, I thought Diamond meant 50 years.

Busy, busy, busy. After an extremely long shift at the theatre on Friday, I was up bright and early Saturday morning to prepare for Hettie's "Diamond Jubilee" - that is, her birthday party for a rather momentous age [I found out later that Diamond Jubilee means 60 years - oops. I'm blaming Brian for this one, as he told me it meant 50 years].

I had previously had a great find at The Works: these lovely pink and green paper chains:

So the paper chains were everywhere, along with colourful bunting, happy birthday banners, and balloons. We had a snack table inside, a barbecue outside, some good tunes on the "boombox" and a bit of sunshine too.

Hettie says loved her narrowboat-shaped cake and her main present, which was a gift experience certificate for a day out learning how to handle a narrowboat.

I also got to meet my long-lost cousin Brandon for the first time - a nice polite young chap who reminds me of me ten years ago.

Today, church, where Brian made a new friend, and I got grafted in to help with some activities. Now for football and relaxation before craft- and music-related work again tomorrow.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

What a load of rubbish!

Been reading a little book I got on sale at Waterstones called "The book of rubbish ideas". Now, I normally go in for good ideas, but these are in fact very good ideas relating to rubbish.

The book has really opened my eyes about how much stuff we throw out and where it ends up. I've resolved to be a better recycler from now on, but what I'm really into is the idea of re-using things for crafty purposes.

So I've started keeping things I might have thrown away before, like cereal packets, foil from chocolate, empty tins of Smash and pringles, and netting from fruit. I've already managed to use some of my "funky junk" on some notecards and one of the Smash tins to package up an online purchase of an oil burner and scented melts. It was just the right size and I honestly don't think I could have a bought any packaging that would have worked as well.

I've also got another "funky junk" project on the go, which is a papier maché lighthouse made from:
  • a Smash lid for the base,
  • a taped cylinder made from rolled up cereal packet cardboard,
  • a plastic deoderant cap with a little "window" cut out of it,
  • and a removable battery powered tea-light for the lighthouse "lamp".
The project is still newspapery right now but one of these days I'll get round to painting it.

Let me know if you have any good tips for how to turn rubbish into a "funky junk" project!


Tuesday, 8 May 2012

A favourite poem

It's as old as the hills, but it might be new to you. I first saw this on the wall of a teacher's office and only glimpsed the first "Go placidly amid the noise and haste". Since we had this great new thing in our house at the time called the "Internet", I looked up those first few words on whatever search engine we all used before Google came along (who remembers?), and it's been a firm favourite of mine ever since.

Max Ehrmann


Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, 1927
(Ruled to be in the public domain).

My favourite line is "no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should" as this feels like a very calming notion.


Friday, 4 May 2012

Diamond Jubilee Printables

For the royal wedding of "Will & Kate", I hosted a Tacky Royal Party for my nearest and dearest. My monarch-hating husband was completely in the dark about this until he came home to find the garden bedecked with union jacks, cardboard corgis, and the rest of us wearing crowns and greeting him with a royal wave.

I was particularly happy with the way these mugs turned out. No, I didn't buy special mugs. I simply printed some free mug wraps from Design Editor (many thanks!) and sellotaped them around my existing mugs, which are cheapies from Asda.

To recreate this effect I've made some similar mug wraps to help everyone out there celebrate the Queen's Jubilee. They're printable and free:

Here in the UK we're getting a 4-day weekend to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee, so you have from Sat 2nd June to Tues 5th June to host your very own Tacky Royal Party!

Hollie x

How to use less bandwidth

I'm not a very technical sort. I find my way around computers ok. But it was a big challenge when I first learnt how to build a website, and I'm still learning as I go along.

My Homespun Gifts website uses a free hosting plan which only allows for 100MB bandwidth per month. That means if a lot of people visit my site and look at my pictures all within the same month, the website crashes and stays crashed until the end of the month. I didn't think it'd be a problem until the site got more popular, but it happened within the first month. When I looked at my pictures I realised why - it would only take 3 people looking at the full-size version of each image to bring the site down.

I thought I would have to move the whole shop onto Folksy, sacrificing a few items along the way since Folksy doesn't allow anything that isn't handmade, like my oil burners or relaxing music. Luckily Richard came to the rescue!

He told me how to put all of my images onto Facebook and then make them appear on my site without using up my bandwidth. I'm basically stealing Facebook's bandwidth, but if they didn't allow that then they wouldn't give access to direct links, right?

This is how to do it:

  • Make an album full of your images on Facebook. Tick the box that say "high quality" while uploading and set the privacy to "Public". The images can be on your personal profile or your business Page.
  • If you don't already have it, download the Google Chrome or the Firefox browser. This doesn't work in Internet Explorer.
  • Using the Chrome browser, look at the image, right-click on it, and choose "Copy Image URL". Or using the Firefox browser, look at the image, right-click on it, choose "View image" and copy the URL from the address bar at the top.
  • In your website code, find the bit that says <img src="yourimagenamehere.jpg"> (or similar) and paste the URL from Facebook inside the quote marks.
  • Be careful not to accidentally delete the quote marks or any of the other bits of code.
If you hadn't originally specified what size the images should be, you might find that the size changes. You can specify the size by adding this to the code: height="200" (put your own number in) or width="200". You only need one, since the other one will be automatically worked out. It should look something like this:
<img src="reallylongURLfromfacebook.jpg" height="200">

Thanks to Richard for the tip!

Hollie x