Thursday, 26 August 2010

Susie J tagged me....

Thursday, 26 August 2010
Getting to Know Me
Susie J tagged me on her blog today and these are the questions I need to answer:

Gettin' to Know Me...

1. If you blog anonymously, are you happy doing it that way; if you are not anonymous do you wish you had started out anonymously so you could be anonymous now?

No, what I blog can be looked at by others, otherwise I can write a journal at home....

2. Describe one incident that shows your inner stubborn side

I'm like a terrier, hate to give up when I have started something, like reading all night to get a book finished because I just can't put it down....

3. What do you see when you really look at yourself in the face in the mirror?

A lot of wrinkles, scars on my eyes from all the operations, and a smile that reminds me of my family....

4. What is your favorite summer cold drink?

Diet coke, fizzy mineral water or freshly pressed orange juice....

5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do?

Scrap, read, listen to music, walk along the Rhine or just day-dream.

6. Is there something you still want to accomplish in your life? What is it?

I would like to visit New Zealand.

7. When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever, the class shy person, or always ditching school? Describe who you were if not one of these.

I was always naughty, liked to play the clown, but nearly always at the top of the class, and HATED girls who got better marks than I did....

8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment in your life, what do you see?

The night before my husband died, where he relived his childhood.

9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people or events?

I keep a lot back, but what I blog still shows a lot of me.

10. If you had the choice to sit and read or talk on the phone, which would you do and why?

Sit and read - I think I am one of the few women who does NOT like nattering on the phone!

OK, that was it. I am tagging GINA, so that she gets round to blogging again, and SUE

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The place where I live - Gill's DC Blog challenge

Today, Kaiserswerth is a part of Düsseldorf. It is the oldest part of the town, dating back to the early middle ages (7th century) and has a long and varied history, which is still visible when you walk through the antiquated streets and paths.
*Kaiserswerth* means *Emperor’s Island*. In the 7th century St. Swidbert, an English Benedictine monk, came to the island, where he built a monastery and began to convert the inhabitants....Any more Swidberts over there? The ancient church which bears his name still stands proudly at the Rhine, and there is a beautiful golden shrine which holds his remains. A side arm of the Rhine used to flow round the town, forming a moat, which together with the ancient walls gave the town protection.
The oldest relict here is a standing stone from about 2000 BC, which can still be seen at the corner of the street where I live. It’s always an amazing feeling to drive past this piece of antiquity and to think what tales the stone could tell….
For many centuries, the little town of Kaiserswerth was an important strategic base on the banks of the Rhine. The mighty ruins of Emperor Barbarossa's imperial fortress are testimonies to this age. In the 11th century, the Archbishop of Cologne kidnapped the emperor Heinrich IV – who was still a child – to make himself Regent over the Holy Roman Emperor. In the 12th century the emperor gave Kaiserswerth the rights to collect customs and tolls, and no ships could pass the Fortress without being seen, a function which has long been taken over by inland revenue and our politicians.... During different wars, the castle was used as a prison for many high ranking hostages. The Duke of Jülich and Berg besieged the town and fortress, broke down part of the town walls and diverted the old Rhine arm, so the town could be taken. For many centuries Kaiserswerth belonged to Cologne, which *took* the town after many battles as a *pledge*, and kept it till 1772.
In the 19th century, Florence Nightingale visited the town, and trained to be a nurse here. The hospital here still bears her name.
Today, Kaiserswerth is a part of Düsseldorf and invites you to an idyllic walk through its medieval lanes.
There are baroque houses at the old market place (Marktplatz), the Rhine promenade with a view of the typical Lower Rhine landscape, St. Suitbertus Basilica dating from the 11th century, and many narrow, cobbled lanes. There is a car ferry with which you can cross the Rhine, and a passenger ship stops here in the summer months for trips along the Rhine. There are also many restaurants, from a take away grill to ice parlours and *Konditoreien* - cafés which sell delicious home made cakes and gateaux- and some very exclusive restaurants led by star-chefs for people who don’t have to worry about paying their bills….
There are also lots of stables here, where people can *park* their horses, who have abundant meadows and fields to graze in. The Rhine and several other smaller streams, rivers and lakes make the area very green and pleasant, and give room to an abundance of water fowl and other wild life, which are always a joy to see and hear – except when they wake me up in the morning!
All in all, a lovely place to live.
PS - There's a nice panorama view of Kaiserswerth to be seen here:

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Tuesday, 24 August 2010

I was a cardboard box - part 2

The trouble is with clearing out the closet in the hall is that I always find such a lot of things that I had forgotten, but that I still sooooooooooooooo need. Like heaps of corrugated cardboard, already cut up and stacked in tidy bundles (wonder when I did THAT!!) just ready to be worked on. So, instead of finishing off the closet, I stuffed all the lovely things I don't need just yet back inside, closed the door quickly before it all fell out again, and got to work....Cut 5 large tags, and some die cuts, the TH flying hearts and my lovely Sizzix sparrow. They have been distressed again with embossing ink, embossing powder in gold, bronze, silver and clear, and perfect pearls in rose, gold, interference blue and green. The stamped motives have been done with timber brown *stazon* on the not peeled parts of the cardboard, and then clear embossed again. This time I took pics of them at this stage, too, before the decorations went on.Then I added the hearts, wings, birds etc, and a few other bits and bobs that were within reach without having to open that closet door again....Was great fun making them, and later I will venture another glimpse behind that door to see what treasures fall at my feet this time!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

A distressing weekend - or *I was a cardboard box!*

Was planning to craft at the weekend with my friend B, but she felt really bad, with a heavy cold and a temperature, so did a bit myself, and spent the rest of the weekend with Inge. We spent ages nattering, playing games, reading, cooking and generally enjoying ourselves. Today we went for a walk, the weather was sunny and dry this morning, and there was a flea-market in her little town. We strolled through, bought a book and some dried fruits and crystallized ginger, and looked at lots of strange things that nobody really seems to need, but usually finds a buyer....We also discovered a little animal sanctuary with deer and goats, which we had never before noticed, and returned home through the park, past the duck pond (but where were all the ducks?) and were happy to put our feet up for half an hour.
This evening I finished the tags that I started yesterday. The cardboard has been partly peeled, and then distressed with clear embossing ink and embossing powder in gold and bronze. After it had melted, I added another sprinkle here and there and some *perfect pearls* in electric blue, which I also melted into the embossing powder. Then I stamped a leafy swirl motive with *Stazon* in timber brown, and clear embossed it. The photos do not really show how lovely the colours shimmer and change. They have been decorated with some TH die-cuts of hearts and wings, which have basically been treated in the same way as the tag. Then a few fairy pics, and a metal ornament on one of them, and that was it. Was great fun to experiment again, and good to try something different. Thanks for looking!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Bread and Games....

Yesterday I enjoyed a nice stay-at-home day. Made some plans for moving the furniture in my living room, but need to file them a bit before I put it into action.... Got some shopping, collected my lotto prize money - don't get excited, it was just under 15€, so no big celebrations yet! and baked some sun-flower seed bread, which smelled so nice that two of my kitchen cows arrived for a sniff straightaway. And spent the rest of the day eating bread and playing with inks and paper again. Once again, a lot landed in the bin, which isn't that bad, because I hope to learn from my mistakes. But 4 pictures were OK. They have been stamped with resist ink, distressed, and then stamped, using 2 little stamps from *Crea-motion*, a Dutch firm, and one from TH. They have been embossed and brushed with perfet pearls, and the clock has got a game pointer, also from TH. I mounted them on some black leather-look card and then some dark-pink metallic paper. Thanks for looking!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

The owl, the pussy cat and some muffins....

The weather here in Rhineland has been really awful the past few days - storm, wind, rain, dark couds and the feeling that autumn is on its way....The swallows were swooping low over the fields, I saw bats flying around every evening at dusk - practising for Halloween? - and the wild geese have been flying formation over the house again every morning and evening, making a huge noise as usual. Perhaps they will soon be flying home, too? Today the sun is risking a peep every now and then, although the clouds are still chasing each other across the sky, so perhaps the better weather *they* have been promising us on the news will soon be reality. Here there's a saying, which translated more or less says, *When the cock crows on the compost heap, the weather will change, or stay as it is*. I think there is more truth in that than in most of the weather forecasts!
I have been spending a lot of time with my friend Inge. Yesterday we baked muffins with cranberries and chocolate chips, and did a little tea party in the afternoon for her family, with the usual eclectic mixture of small talk, gossip, coffee, cakes and playing games, so a good time was had by all....
I have been playing around with resist ink the past few days, but most of the things landed in the bin. Tried to do some ghostly faces - I am also practising for halloween - but they need a lot of improvement. The pics with my fave owl stamp are better, on them only the *moon* has been stamped with resist ink. The moon is one of four geometric shapes on a lovely wooden & rubber stamping-cube from Judikins, who has lovely stamping things, although they are hard to get here, so I am hoping that there will be another stamping fair somewhere near here soon....
And I did my glittery tag for the swap on DC, hope Jo likes it, I have called it *The owl and the pussy-cat* in memory of Edward Lear's wonderful poem. Thanks for dropping in!

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Naked chickens, stamping experiments, a song and a nice weekend....

Well, this may be difficult for some of you to believe, but on Friday I actually did some cooking! I went to my friend Inge, and together we prepared a nice meal for Friday evening Sabbath dinner, and invited her family, so we were 5 people all together. Not usually difficult, I know, but as I am used to cooking just for myself lately, or perhaps for one visitor, not so easy. And my cooking usually takes the form of opening a packet or the freezer and popping something into the oven, so for me this was a big occasion! I baked the bread first, so it had time to cool, and then the chickens went into their marinade for a swim before joining the potatoes and carrots for a sun-tan in the oven. They looked a lot nicer AFTER being baked, but I was sooooo hungry and excited later on that I forgot to take another piccie, so there are only pics of naked chickens and not baked ones. I seem to get confused with the words *naked* and *baked* recently, I know I told Maria that we had eaten *naked* salmon some time last week.... Anyway, we had a nice evening together, and I slept overnight on Inge's couch (rather difficult, as the couch is about a yard shorter than I am!). Yesterday we had breakfast, played skipbo, nattered a lot and ate the left-overs from the evening before, so we didn't exactly starve either! Yesterday evening I came home really contented after a nice couple of days in good company.
After a very long sleep, which is most unusual for me, I woke up to a cool, grey and windy world outside, and now it is raining cats and dogs, too. So, a good day to stay home and do some crafting. Wanted to experiment with inks and stamps, which I did, and although some things ended up in the bin, 2 of the cards I made are more or less OK. I used ceramic paper, and stamped the *moon* and the clock with resist ink from Ranger, before distressing it with *Stormy skies* - very fitting to today's weather. The images have been stamped with archival black and partly clear embossed. Used different stamps - my lovely leopard, the clock, and the owl are all from *LaBlanche*, the others from *Artemio*, *Paper Artsy* and *Inkadinkado*. The film strips have been printed onto overhead transparencies, the gadget gear is a TH die-cut, the clock hands are also from TH, and I used some stickles, perfect pearls and hand doodling to finish them off.
After that, I cleaned the kitchen, which was in a big mess after all that inky work, and made myself some potato-wedges out of the deep freeze and fried eggs for lunch, with a multi-vitamin fizzy drink for afters, very healthy - well, at least I tried, even though it was no culinary master piece....
I wrote the following poem last year, and put it onto the DC forum, but thought I would pop it on here to give you all something to sing:

The Scrappers Song
(To be sung to the tune of “mud, mud, beautiful mud”,if any of you oldies know that one!!)

Stash, stash, beautiful stash,
Nothing quite like it for using your cash!
There’s paper and ribbons
And gemstones and card,
To name them all would be terribly hard.
We buy it, we love it
We craft it and then
We’ve time on our hands
So we start all again,
We cut and we colour
And stick it with glee,
And then when it’s finished,
We say “This is me!”
It keeps us all happy
And makes us so proud,
We meet lots of scrappers,
A real crazy crowd.
We’re addicted, we know it,
We never will stop,
Come on girls, get busy,
Let’s all start to crop!

Hope you are all having a good weekend, whatever you are up to, and managing to chill out ready for the week to come. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

More glittery tags, the August ATCs and Freddie's family back again....

Some of you may remember my saga of Freddie & his family, who were always bungee-jumping right in front of my window, just there where I sit at the computer. Well, they were outside on the balcony, and I was inside, but who wants to be spied on and observed by artful spiders who spun off to the roof where I couldn't get them as soon as I went onto the balcony with vengeance on my mind and a spider splatter or spray in my hand.
For the last few weeks, one of them has once again taken up residence on my balcony. This time at the left side, at the front, and it sky-dives upwards to the balcony above if I go anywhere near it. OK, As long as it stays that way, I don't mind tooooooooooo much, although it is growing and growing and I feel very threatened by its antics.
But yesterday evening.....I went into my bedroom to close the curtains, and saw something black moving on the ceiling....I automatically scan all rooms when I go into them to make sure they are spider - free, and this one wasn't! It wasn't really a large one. But as Einstein taught us, everything is relative, and any spiders bigger than a pin-head are large. And according to this way of thinking, this one was very large, at least an inch - including legs. What a dilemma. I did not want to use an insect spray, as they are not good for my asthma, and especially not in my bedroom. Then I remembered Trick 17 - hair-spray. I always have a large can in the bathroom, which I don't use, because it also sets off asthma atacks.(Well, what I mean is, that I don't use the hair-spray, I have to use the bathroom from time to time!) It's the extra strength, long time hold from *ALDI'S*, so I held my breath and gave three blasts at the spider. It did start to move away, but that was even worse, because I could never have slept there with a spider in the room and not knowing if it was dead, alive, or just waiting.....I didn't want to use the hoover, as it was nearly one a.m., and I did not want to wake up the (sometimes) rather crabby old lady who lives downstairs. What to do?? Decided to try with a perfume spray. Got it as a present from one of my old ladies last year, a sweet and very cloying smell, rather reminiscent of flowers at a graveyard. So, I held my breath again and gave it three sharp blasts - no reaction, it was still running round the corner of my bedroom, jigging around, and causing my blood pressure to rise. I did even wonder if this was the sort of emergency that would justify ringing the fire brigade, but didn't fancy having to explain it all to them on the phone. Anyway, they refuse to take off their boots before they come in, and I didn't want that, either!! So it had to be the hoover. I up-ended it so it wouldn't vibrate too much on the floor, stretched the tube upwards, and swoooooooooooooooosh - the spider was gone. *Another spider gone to rest, safe at last on Abraham's breast; ashes to ashes, dust to dust, If the Spray don't get you the hoover must!* Switched the hoover off very quickly before anyone could locate where the noise was coming from, took the hairspray and perfume back to the bathroom, washed my hands, and went for a drink of water to calm down....
Five minutes later, as I crept back into my bedroom, all was quiet save for the ticking of the clock. But the smell of perfume and hair-spray with a hint of hoover dust was somehow evocative of an oriental brothel (NOT that I have ever been in one!!) And with this smell in my nostrils I slept and dreamt of - I'm not going to tell!!
Well, after reading all that, you have deserved to see the pics - 4 new glittery tags in mini-size and the four ATCs I made for the August swap on DC. Thanks for looking by!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Another glittery tag and some flower cards.

Had a bad day yesterday, so didn't get round to much, but managed to make one glittery tag using TH's *alteration* die, but with a fairy in the cage instead of a bird. My friend Inge got a most wonderful rose given to her last week, a really giant one in a bautiful terracotta colour, so I had to take a pic. And then I made her 4 simple letter cards, all the same, so she will be able to think of her rose for a long time. Thanks for looking!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

A lazy day and some glittery tags....

Today was cold and wet. It poured all day, adding water to the flooded areas in East Germany, who must be having a terrible time.
I decided to make the best of the day and just be lazy. It was too cold to have a pyjama day, but sweat shirt and joggers are comfy,too. After drinking lots of coffee to get awake, I managed to get some post ready, filled out some forms, and got it all in envelopes ready to take to our post office tomorrow. There's a new lady now, she even knows the prices, is efficient and friendly....wonder how long she will be staying there?
On DC we are doing a glittery tag swap, so I decided to practice. Got 4 large and 4 small tags cut, distressed, stamped and glittered with *Stickles*. Good tip - (Maria, please note, this time I have written *tip* and not....)don't answer the phone when you have *Stickles* on your fingers....perhaps we could do a swap for glittery phones?
Decorated the tags with everything-to-hand again, one has gadget gears cut from grunge board, distressed, partly embossed with bronze, powdered with perfect pearls and fixed with buttons. The other two have half a *fanciful flight* dragonfly on them. Each has a word - cut from my *Chocolate kisses* box - as decoration. They are more sparkly in *real* as in the pics, as it is difficult to get them at the right angle to photograph them. Had fun making them, perhaps I will get the others done tomorrow, today is my lazy day....

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Yet again more tags....

Actually, I wasn't planning on making any tags, Just though I would play with my TH *Gadget gears* die. Wasn't sure if I really like it. Good news. I LOVE it!! Cut some gears out of different materials - cardboard, which I partly peeled, the brown *honeycomb* paper that you sometimes get on top of choccies, and some shiny gold card that is inside the boxes of Aldi's *chocolate kisses* - I of course ONLY buy them to get the nice golden card for making die cuts, then I have to eat them up so as not to waste. As this has already wasted my waist to the form of a well stuffed sausage, I suppose I might as well carry on.....
Well, back to the tags. Used some card from a tissue box to cut the tags, and covered them with scraps of K & Co paper which has sayings written all over it. Then I rubbed each one with *Stickles* - rubbed it on with my finger to give a nice shine, (on the card, not on my finger!!) and let them dry. In the meantime, I was able to nibble on a few chocolate kisses and distress the cardboard die cuts with ink, some bronze embossing powder, and a sprinkling of perfect pearls in electric blue. Then I decorated the tags with the usual mixture of this and that, fixed the gadget gears with decorative buttons and a giant press-stud and some ribbons to tie the buttons on. The press-stud has been given some gold-leaf edging and then some *glossy accents*. They have turned out a bit different to my usual ones, but I like them, too, and I have managed to use up a lot of scraps in the process ( and enjoy *chocolate kisses!!!*) Thanks for looking! *Everything's good when it's made out of chocolate!*

Thursday, 5 August 2010

An outing to Zons, a little mediaeval town.

Zons is a little town near Dormagen, between Neuss and Cologne. It was first mentioned in the 7th century, so it is really rather antique....It used to be one of the places which grew rich on the customs and excise they got from the ships taking their wares along the is evidently no recent invention!! We drove to Benrath, past the castle there, and then found the leafy lane leading down to the Rhine ferry. We only had to wait a few minutes till the ferry came, and then we drove on. The ferry man came and collected our fares, and by the time we had paid we were already over on the other side. The Rhine is very full at the moment, if the water gets much higher, then the ferry can't cross over. We walked from the car-park past some sheep, which were grazing on the meadows, and then discovered a statue of a Bishop standing there, so we went and greeted him. Then we strolled around the walls, admired the old houses & Inge tried to climb the walls. One of the pictures shows some little silvery plaques, they show how high the floods were in some years. The next pic shows one marker right up at the top of the arch, that was in 1798 and must have been a very frightening flood. We saw some strange *creatures* outside a shop selling lots of fantastic things that nobody really needs but a lot of people like to have....And we met a very friendly white dog, keeping watch in front of his house, and enjoying *talking* to all who went by. We had a nice lunch in an old pub, and then drove home via another route, along the Rhine, through Neuss, a town with a lot of Roman and mediaeval ruins, and then over the bridge in Düsseldorf before driving back to Inge's place. There we enjoyed our coffee and a few games of skipbo before I drove home. I found a nice video of Zons on You Tube, here is the link if anyone is interested:
All in all, a nice day, in nice company.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Damsel in distress again....

....And more tags had to suffer with distress ink from TH, die cuts, stamps etc. Was, as usual, great fun to make, and cheered me up a bit. Used TH alteration dies - dragonfly & bird in a cage, and a sparrow from Sizzix - one of my favourite dies. The backgrounds have been distressed with stormy skies, wild honey, victorian velvet and bundled sage, and the the text has been stamped with forest moss and / or archival black. The dragonfly and sparrow have been embossed with clear embossing powder. Used prima flowers, a LaBlanche clock stamp and some bits and bobs from my magic tins for decorating. The edges have been distressed and decorated with faux stitching. Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Great minds think alike - or some ATCs made and received

Some ATCs are more fun to make than others, as the themes just appeal more....or less!!
Here is a selection of those done in the last few months; some with the theme *It's a man's world* - how true! sent to Karen; some of my favourite animal - naturally a cow, as my home is full of them, as pics, clocks, lights, tables etc - which were sent to Joanne (who unfortunately didn't get round to saying if she got them or not!), and then *my fave holiday* as theme. I was wavering between Paris and New York, but as I didn't have any suitable embellies for NY, it just had to be Paris. The tags went to Alma and to Susie J. On the day I sent mine off, I got a letter with my ATC and two beautiful tags from Susie, and had to really laugh out loud, as we had both chosen the same theme - as I said at the beginning, *Great minds think alike!* The first pic shows Susie's beautiful tag, the others are my efforts!
P.S. The ATCs for this mo nths butterfly swap are all done and dusted, but I can't show the pics till they have been posted and reached their destinations!!

Sunday, 1 August 2010

A weekend visitor, glass and other curiosities

If I haven't posted much the past week or so, it was because I have been spending a lot of time with a friend, who had her knee operated on 2 weeks ago. In the meantime she can run about again, and is doing very well, and came here to spend the weekend with me, a real (old) *girls weekend*. We did lots of nattering, played rummicub and cards, ate too much and had lots of nibbles to boot. All in all a pleasant weekend, with plenty of laughs and time to get to know each other better.
This evening I took some photos of some of the *curiosities* residing in my flat - it's a bit like a rather crazy museum, with lots of glass - which I have collected since I was small (and THAT was a long time ago!), strange animals, lamps, figures etc. spread through all rooms, including the bathroom, hall and kitchen. And this is just a part of it all, as I realised to my horror while taking the photos - at least I know now why I never have enough space to put anything in....
And a proud announcement to end the saga - my flowers on the balcony have been thriving since 4 weeks, this has to be an all time record, as I mostly manage to reduce them to the consistency of dried tea leaves within a few days.