Wednesday, 24 August 2016

WOYWW 377 - the 2nd Raskog Trolley

Happy Wednesday to everyone.  Trot over to Julia at her Stamping Ground to join in with this weekly sharing of crafty workspaces.

I am up relatively early this morning with stomach cramps - and a general lack of wanting to go back to sleep - so here I am at my computer and getting some useful stuff done.

My desk shows how I left it after deciding to start another journal !!  I had bought one of those 'cheap' ring binder scrapbooking/journalling kit-thingies, which comes with some ready-printed double sided pages and a few stickers etc.  I used my new Amy Tangerine rubber stamp kit (a bargain from TK Maxx) to put one of my favourite sayings onto a piece of scrap paper that had been a tester for stencils, and that will layer up onto one of the pages.  I added some journalling, plus various pens to embellish the front page - and that is all I have done so far.  You can also see one of the Docrafts magazines, which came with some fab wooden postcards.

As a bonus I am showing you the view of the storage to the side of my craft table.  I put together my second Ikea Raskog Trolley yesterday (definitely getting easier each time I do it!) and have put my smallish collection of mixed media tools/materials on it so far - and my super-size roll of kitchen paper.  I also treated myself to the plain wooden drawers, which of course I do intend to decorate one day.  My set of Derwent Inktense pencils sit on top of that nicely.  The wooden chest of drawers have stencils in the top drawer, and then a drawer for completed all-occasion cards, followed by the drawer for Xmas cards (which has 2 left over from last year).

If you wonder what the bright pink plastic thing on the top is - well, it is one of the course markers for the mountain biking course at the 2012 London Olympics (our friend was a marshal).

Well, that is it.  Nothing too exciting.  I look forward to touring around lots of workspaces this week.
Ali x

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

WOYWW 376 - finally here after a busy morning

Another Wednesday hits us - and it is WOYWW (What is On Your Workdesk Wednesday).  See Julia's Stamping Ground for more details.

I had good intentions of getting this typed up earlier, but I ended up getting busy with less interesting (but useful) tasks.

My crafty worktable is all ready for me to sit down at it and finish off some art journalling from the course I won a scholarship to.  Read HERE to get the link for the course.

  • Bottom left are 3 pages I started in our Monthly Meet-up at the weekend.  The black is what the black gesso was used for, and I will be adding writing with a white pen.  A 'friend tree' in the middle waiting for more work on the background and journalling.  A crest on the right - and again there is 'homework' for me with that one!   
  • Above that is my usual scrap papers, 
  • Baby wipes, 
  • Blank pages waiting to be worked on (using the purple low-tack tape to mark a border on one side where we will be binding them into a book).  
  • Two pages that I am going to finish this afternoon - at least 2 more layers needed.  
  • My pile of journal covers etc waiting to be stitched together.  
  • My new tin of Derwent Inktense pencils.  
  • Black and white gesso.
Otherwise this week I have been busy with a day out at the Pembrokeshire County Show, two walks out with Buzz the Jack Russell (one tackling the highest point on the Preseli Hills and another to my favourite local woodland) and other general housework/animal care/shopping etc. 

Of course I have been glued to the Olympics - particularly the cycling, equestrian, gymnastics and diving.  Mountain biking this weekend, which is our highlight.

For those who also suffer with chronic health conditions, you will know how difficult it is to cope on a daily basis and also live any sort of worthwhile life.  I get tired very quickly and every day is different with symptoms.  I am just glad that I have such an active mind and interested in so many different things.  My life is certainly not boring!

Happy WOYWW to those I do not manage to visit.

Ali x

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

WOYWW 375 - My Derwent Inktense addiction intensifies

Morning to you all.  Well, it is actually afternoon here now, as it is 2 minutes past midday, but it is before lunch so I insist that it is morning and I am not really late getting this typed.  I had this post down for the first 'office' job of the day - but got distracted by using Canva (try it out if you haven't - to create some new graphics for a couple of social media posts.  I then remembered I had a birthday card to put in the post, some purchases from yesterday to put away etc, etc ....

WOYWW is What is On Your Workdesk Wednesday.  Go to Julia's Stamping Ground to join in.

At least I am here now and have this amazing photo of my craft work table to show you -

Going clock-wise from Bottom left - my new set of Derwent Inktense pencils.  Yes, the full 72 set!  I found a website with a very good sale on - and these were 51% off.  Plus there was a code for an additional 10% discount.  It would have been very rude not to purchase - and I found a few other items fell into my basket.  The website is  I have loved using their Inktense blocks and then saw the pencils being used, and knew they were a 'must-have'.  I happened to see that Hocanda TV had a Derwent Inktense show on yesterday and recorded it.  Some brilliant demo's from Sharon Hurst (from the SAA).

My first journal, which is stitched and I have started to use it.  So excited and proud to think that I have actually made a book!

Some photos of the farm/Pembrokeshire/flowers to use on future journal pages (just printed out on basic copy paper to see if they work on mixed media).

The other journal covers (and the spare bits to make a belly band to group the 3 together for July) - and some canvas boards underneath.

Sheets of watercolour paper cut out ready to make into our journal for August.

My usual pile of scrap paper and my 'practice journal'.

You can just see my smartphone tripod.

A piece of cardboard packaging that came out of one of the Ikea boxes.  Too good to throw away - thought I could make a 'canvas' out of it.


Later today I intend to stitch one more journal together, and also get on with the next video for August (see my last blog post  for details about the journalling/handmade books course I am doing).

I apologise for not getting back to everyone's blogs last week.  I will make sure that I sit down with my laptop later, whilst watching the Cycling Time Trials in Rio.  Is anyone else following the Olympics?  I love it and get really involved in sports that I have absolutely no knowledge of!

Ali x

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

WOYWW 374 - Yummy stitchy stash

A new month and another Wednesday, although the weather in Wales is definitely un-summery (or perhaps it is normal for August, as I seem to remember a lot of rain in the past few years).  Hubby is attempting to go to neighbouring farms to collect the straw that we buy off their fields, but this can only be done when it is not raining (to stop the straw getting even more wet when he drives along the roads and to prevent damage to the fields from heavy trailer), so it is all a bit stop-start for him right now.  Makes winter seem a lot closer when I see the straw being stacked in the sheds - and the ponies/Doris started to grow their winter coats a few days ago.

I am rambling on this Wednesday because it is time to link up with WOYWW (What is On Your Workdesk Wednesday).  Go to Julia's Stamping Ground to join in.

My crafty workdesk was awaiting a delivery from an Etsy seller in the UK, which arrived yesterday - so now I can continue with stitching up the journals I made for July.  I only had a medium-weight light coloured thread with my Book Making Starter Kit from the Vintage Paper Co , and really needed a heavy-weight version to cope with the thick watercolour paper I am using for pages, plus I wanted some pretty colours to play with.  I went on Etsy and found buchertigersupplies (lots of lovely bookbinding stash).

Here is the package -

bookbinding thread, book making, Etsy, beeswax

- and here is my craft table -

My very first stitched journal is on top (it has been sitting under a heavy box for a several hours - but still not sitting flat due to the very thick paper I used for the pages), and the two others for this particular project are underneath awaiting pages and stitching.  I made a 4th (on the glass cutting board), which is for another project - and the strips I trimmed off will be used to make a belly band to keep the 3 journals together.  You can see some canvases that I bought from The Works on top of my current practice journal - and scrap paper/kitchen roll.  You can also spy my stripy rug.  

I would be too ashamed to show the rest of my craft room for now, as I had my Ikea delivery on Friday and there are various boxes lying around awaiting the dreaded 'putting together'.  Book shelves (as I ran out of room on the shelves on the landing outside the room) and another Raskog trolley.  I will be taking photos and making a video next week.

Happy WOYWW to whoever I do not manage to visit.

Ali x

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

WOYWW 373 - stencilling just about to begin

Not only is this another Wednesday, but it is also the end of another month.  I promised myself that I would start my Xmas cards in July, so had better get a move on!  I was going to join in with the 'Christmas in July' events on Monday 25th - but ended up having very little time to craft.

If you would like to join in with this weekly tour around global craft workspaces, go to Julia's Stamping Ground.

Today I am proud to say that the other table in my craft room is now dedicated to 'messy' crafting.  I can clear it if I want to use it for Tarot readings or cutting out fabric, but it seems to be used most days for paint/ink etc.  I have ordered another Raskog trolley from Ikea (and a bookcase/bins/other storage fell into my online basket too!), which is all due to arrive on Friday, so then I can organise all of my tools/supplies etc into an area close to the table.  I love storage and organisation, so will be very happy getting it all sorted.  I will share photos and a possible video next week.  

On my crafty table today is -

  • my craft mat (I found a video on YouTube recommending the use of cheap oven liners instead of buying the usual fairly expensive craft mats - and found large rolls of such material in Aldi this week - will test that out and report back), 
  • my journal covers waiting for the next stage in the process of finishing them (stencilling using 3 or 4 designs) - so far they have had several layers of different paint applied with my fingers,
  • my new favourite paint (a fabulous bronze),
  • my 'practice journal' which I am using when I join in with the live crafting events online (heard about one that is every Thursday evening, so planning to join them tomorrow).  You can see my very first attempt at a page.  The only issue with this journal is that it is made up of very thick kraft-type paper/card, which does not like ink sprays (everything just merges into a blob), so bit more restricted on which techniques I can try.
  • baby wipes (I am getting through a lot of them keeping my work area and me tidy),
  • some new stencils which I am excited to try.
craft room ready for mixed media, art journelling, stencilling, metallic paint, bronze

Well, I had better get this published and listed, and then I can decide which paint I am going to use with the stencils.  I would appreciate any recommendations for paints/other materials and tools that you find really work for use with stencils.  Comment below or email me at

Happy WOYWW to all that I do not manage to visit this week.

Ali x

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

WOYWW 372 - making journals

Morning everyone.  I was so excited when I went over to Julia's Stamping Ground to see what number I needed to put in the title and saw that WOYWW (What is On Your Workdesk Wednesday for those who are not already addicts) is back home!

I am doubly glad that I am forcing the time out of my day to sit down and get this typed up.

I have been saying for years that I would love to do some art journals - and even make my own - and I have finally started.  I saw a competition to win a scholarship to a 3 month course (it runs all year, but is split into quarters and the prize was for July-September) and entered - and won!

I have started this week - there are lots of videos to watch, plus a Google+ community.  So far I have got 4 pieces of card gesso'd (is that a word?) on both sides - 2 coats - and just starting to decide on the colours I will be using for the journal covers.  The theme is 'Silence and Sanctuary', and I always fall back to my love of woodland when I think of this - so have selected 4 different greens from my fab new tin of Derwent Inktense blocks (never worked with these before and loving them already).

My photo shows my little scribbles seeing how to merge the colours together.

First day of using Derwent Inktense blocks with my Art Journalling course

I will, of course, be blogging regularly to show my progress.

Here is the link to the website for the courses - The Journey Within - there is a Mini course that was originally held in December as a taster - and I purchased that before I knew that I had won the competition.  Seems like a good way to see if it is for you.  She also has regular free craft-alongs through Artsy - THE NEXT ONE IS TOMORROW!!  (Sorry for shouting, but didn't want anyone to miss out that would like to try it out - they are recorded if you are unable to attend live.)

Enough links for this week.  I must get back to these journal covers.

I hope that everyone is well and happy - and for those in the UK that you enjoyed our 2 days of mini heatwave (it is cooler and cloudy in Pembrokeshire today).  I managed to get sunburnt on one shoulder, one ear and cleavage (changed into a different dress and forgot to reapply suncream, and tied my hair back in the afternoon)!  I am almost glad that we are back to normal weather, as now I can be in my craft room and not feel that I should be out in the sun.

I will do some blog reading later today - and I thank you all in advance for your lovely comments.

Ali x

Monday, 4 July 2016

Psoriasis - painful and embarrassing

Psoriasis and other chronic skin conditions - coping is so difficult
Coping with a chronic skin condition is incredibly difficult
In my newsletters for the members of my Tarot VIP Club, I have been talking about the 4 main chronic health conditions that affect me.  This time the topic was Psoriasis.

I expect a lot of you know about this - whether you have it or know someone who does.  It affects around 3% of the world population (so even with the small number of people who follow this blog, there is probably at least one other person with Psoriasis).
This auto-immune condition has many different forms, but basically is patches of abnormal skin.  I will not go into great detail on here (read HERE if you would like to know more about the different types and treatment etc), but mainly talk about how it has affected my life in a practical and emotional way (and continues to do so today).

It first flared up with me when I was about 3.  We were living near Cambridge at the time and I was sent to see a dermatologist at Addenbrookes Hospital.  Some of my first memories were having to take my clothes off and a nurse coming into vacuum the floor (as my entire body was covered and it flaked a lot), and also my dad having to carry me around the house, as I was unable to walk due to the pain.

It has varied throughout my life - from periods such as now when I 'only' have it on my scalp and occasional patches on my eyelids (plus the very dry skin on my hands and feet), to several periods when my entire body has been affected and I have been hospitalised.

Some of the worse times were during my teenage years when other girls were wearing bikinis and being confident in the swimming pool, whilst I sat on the sidelines keeping long sleeves and trousers on (the chlorine and cold water was painful for me - and, of course, now I realise that I also had Fibromyalgia and cannot cope with cold temperatures).

I also had a few years of extreme pain/flaking from 1990.  I was hospitalised in Whipps Cross Hospital in East London for 2 weeks with the most severe and dangerous form of the condition.  I was hardly able to walk, as my joints would also swell up, and could never get comfortable.  My whole body was fighting infection and it was just lucky that I was otherwise young and fit.

That followed with a few years where I was having to cope with this horrible skin condition and start a busy career.  Commuting on the bus in hot weather having to wear polo necks and trousers ... only being able to wear trainers, as my feet were so sore ... my eyes being almost shut due to the swelling.  Not a good time for me in many ways.

It did gradually clear up over the years, but around 2001/2001 I did get another flare up.  This time I was referred to the Birmingham Skin Clinic, which was literally just up the road from where I worked.  I was prescribed light treatment - similar to a very powerful sunbed, which I could only be exposed to for less than a minute at a time.  This had an almost magical effect on my skin and I got a fantastic tan!

I have not had to have any significant treatment since then - just managing it myself, except when it gets really sore on my scalp and then I get something stronger from the doctor.

However, I know that it is still there and could flare up at any time (in fact last night when I undressed I discovered an angry red patch on my inner left arm near my armpit - this can be a sign of my body fighting infection, and I have to be careful as it could lead to a full body flare).  There are various theories about what causes it and why flares happen, but there has been no pattern with me at all.  Stress, diet, other infections, lack of sunlight ...  These do not guarantee that my skin will be flaring or in a settled state.  I now obviously try to keep my stress levels down and eat a fairly healthy/balanced diet due to my other health issues, so hopefully I am enabling my whole body to keep itself as comfortable as possible.

So many people think that Psoriasis is 'just' dry skin, nothing to worry about - but it can be fatal in the extreme cases.  I admire the mostly men who can walk around in the summer exposing their legs/arms and not bothered by showing the world they have Psoriasis.  I am not that confident.  I hide mine away if at all possible, and when it has been really extreme only doctors/nurses really knew how bad my skin was.  You become very good at putting a smile on your face, dressing to hide what is underneath and only having a good cry when noone else is around.

Here are two useful articles - The Emotional Toll of Psoriasis and The Emotional Impact of Skin Problems 

Having a skin condition affects so much of your life, and how you are treated by others too.  I was bullied at school a lot, and strangers in shops/on public transport have moved away from me in horror/accused me of having Leprosy/will not take money from me when they see my hands etc.  Sadly these are often elderly women - the very worse offenders of being judgmental and basically rude.

A recent survey showed that - ... 84% of people with moderate-to-severe psoriasis suffer discrimination and humiliation, with many being stared at in public (40%) as a result of their medical condition. In addition, the results from more than 8,300 participants show that people with psoriasis have very low treatment expectations of achieving clear skin ...  (Read the full article HERE)

One positive thing about having so many chronic health conditions is that I do not take for granted my 'good' days or having mainly healthy skin now.  Our bodies are truly amazing and we really need to take better care of them.

I would love to hear from anyone who is a sufferer of Psoriasis or another skin condition.  It is always good to feel that we are not alone.

Ali x