Monday, 17 December 2012

handmade Christmas: part 1

good morning lovely folks!

I've been busying beavering away for the past few months, stock piling handmade gifts, working on new design ideas and generally having a blast making things!

I plan to share a few of my makes with you over the next week or so, but I thought I'd kick it off with our window decorations.

I couldn't sleep in on Saturday morning (head buzzing with preparations for the family party we were hosting that evening [it was wonderful!]) so I got up and painted some of our windows! hahaha ;)

Since we got a new door, we've had nowhere to hang a Christmas wreath so I thought it would be a mighty fine idea to paint one on the window at the bottom of the it would great any visitors over the Christmas season.
I'd heard about using acrylic paint so, I had a quick Google and read a tip about mixing a little washing up liquid in with the paint, to make it really easy to remove*. And off I went!

It started with a wreath and then progressed to snowflakes on the kitchen windows. I love them even though it's all a bit freehand a wibbly - next year I may draw up some templates and tape them to the outside of the window to follow.

*I can confirm that it did come off easily as I botched a bit

I hope you like them...

Oh, and the best part of it - George's face when he came downstairs to find Mummy painting the windows...priceless!

cheerio for now

Monday, 17 September 2012

Monday montage

Hello folks and I hope you are cracking on nicely with this new week!

Here are a few shots from our weekend...

Saturday involved a lazy pub crawl around Grassington with great friends ~

Sunday had us popping back over to Saltaire for a second weekend in a row (Titus dear, we really must stop meeting like this!) for the food festival ~

later I spent the evening sketching, supping from a vintage glass and catching up on TV whilst the mister cooked a slap up (& damned tasty!) dinner ~

What did you get up to over the weekend?


Friday, 14 September 2012

A Peeking Pixie & a confession about inspiration

Hullo friends!

My head is all hurty from trying to install a widget on my website...I tried and tried then tried some more but I still couldn't get it to work [I suspect I'm being a bit dim] - thankfully, Martin (tech support) is on it, I hope!

Sooo whilst he does his thing, I'll tell you about my pixie pal.

When did I first spy him? Let me look [flicks through sketch book] ahh yes...I first spotted the wee fella on the 22nd of April of last year (yup, 2011). I finished doing what I was doing and rushed off to jot him down along with some ideas and then forgot about him for a few weeks.

He must have been whispering to me because, on the 9th May, I had another sketching session of another couple of ideas. And that was it. He whispered every once in a while just as a gentle 'don't forget about me' reminder, but I could never find the right way to create now, I couldn't fix on the appropriate medium (is that correct?)

Then yesterday, after having a couple of attempts at lino cutting, the night before [well technically it was Soft Cut cutting but what they hey] I decided to have bash at turning my wee pixie pal into a stamp.

He was ever so fiddly for a novice like me and I was quite concerned that I would fail to capture his little expression - shy but hopeful, and so very inquisitive - but I did! I confess to having done a number of little happy dances accompanied by excited giggles. I think George worried his old mum had finally lost her marbles [ that happened eons ago but let him have his illusions ;)] and happily set about printing some little Moleskine journals had been waiting for just such an occasion.

So he's free, my little Peeking Pixie has been let loose in the world and I think he's going to have a blast.

Okay, the confession about inspiration time....this is where I first saw him, well actually just the top of his hat [he was too shy to peek properly at this point].

Can you see it?

This is the view from where I was *ahem* sitting [yup, I was 'paying a call' as the polite folk say...hey inspiration crops up when you least expect it!]

After I'd showed George my stamp yesterday evening, he then excitedly took me on a tour of all his Door know the little creatures and people who hide in the knots and grain of your wooden doors? No? Go and have a look now [when you've finished reading], I bet they're dying for you to finally find them! We have some shared ones and we each introduced one another to new Door Pals. Ahh, he is his mother's son, poor kid ;)

Top left: this is a strangled goose to me but to George it' a ghost
Top right: we both have this one - a big beaked bird with a raised eyebrow
Bottom left: a little critter with a brown muzzle and a crazy-dude fur fringe
Bottom right: this one is George's own and his favourite...two peachy bum cheeks ;)

Do you see creatures and friends in strange places? Do share...


Tuesday, 11 September 2012



so what's everyone up to office? creating (if so...what?)? plotting?

my day so far has gone a bit like this...

wet through and chilly after getting caught in the rain on the walk to school

thinking that wellies are a darned good idea in this weather! [though maybe not when filled with plants]

taking Henry for a stroll around the house...see, he likes it!

being knocked sideways by sudden and glorious sunshine, flooding in through the windows

rushing to the window to take a look before it vanishes again [til March?]

cracking back on with filling up my Etsy shops
[quick question - do those of you who work in various media - eg, stitch, paint, pen - keep everything in one shop or split them out? I currently have three shops, one for painted items, one for stitched and one for drawn...Ditsybird, Ditsybirdsews and Ditsybirddraws. I'm now wondering whether to put them back under one roof but worry that it will look a little chaotic and very full...any thoughts lovelies?]

•••things went slightly awry at this point as school called to say G had been sick...cue dashing to car (so he didn't have to walk back home in the rain feeling all rubbish like and sore tummied); collecting of boy; getting him home; him deciding to do his homework (I know, me too!); phoning work to arrange working from home for 2 days (48 hr rule - great if it's a bug - not so if he's pulled his tum and run too soon after eating); rearranging the car service booked for tomorrow; popping back up here to finish this; heading down to make a coffee and finally, coming back up again to continue with the Etsy fillin.

I hope you're having a fun Tuesday!


PS three posts in three, two three, faint! hehe

Monday, 10 September 2012

Monster doodle


So on Saturday morning, inspired by an online course I'd signed up to, I decided to drag out one of my old doodle designs - one that I used to do know, whilst waiting for reports to run at work, hanging on the phone waiting to be connected etc...

It wasn't until I'd started it, that I realised the size of the task I'd embarked on as, in typical Ditsy style, I'd only gone and picked my largest (A4) sketchbook to work in, and my most complex doodle.

It took a quite a while to complete over the course of the day ~ with breaks to get on with jobs and enjoy trips out ~ and I considered bailing on a few creaky-wristed occasions.

I am chuffed that I stuck with it as it looks brill* completed and you don't get a sense of the intricacy when it's only part way through. If only I could find an actual commercial use for it ;)

Due to RSI issues with my right arm & wrist, I hadn't done any serious spend-yonks-working-intensely-on-one-design doodling or drawing of any kind, and had forgotten just how therapeutic it is. My mind cantered then wandered and eventually it pretty much settled into a gentle idle, once I'd got into the groove of repetitive action.

I'd highly recommend it as a form of relaxation, if you're that way inclined.

So, do you doodle and, if so, how often? (<- I now have some vague Pet Shop Boys lyrics in my head "which do you choose, the hard or soft option"?!?!?)


*in my humble opinion only

Saturday, 8 September 2012

A Makers' fair and some doodling

A good Saturday morning to you all!

a promising start

So far my day is going swimmingly and I intend to work very hard at making that continue ;)

I had a monster headache yesterday that resulted in a monster migraine in the evening - which was, quite frankly, badly timed for I had the whole evening to myself and had planned on doing some making of some sort. Instead I read blogs, The Simple Things mag (so very very good - the first magazine in yonks that I have read, I mean actually read and not just oohed at the lovely pictures). Where was I?

Oh yes...blogs, mags and then I signed up for an Alisa Burke online class*...Doodle Delight...took some co-codamol (really there was no other choice other than sitting weeping quietly in a darkened room) and went to bed.

[*this sounds like I just thought yeah I'll do that and did it, dead rash like and everything - actually I've been umming and ahhing for at least a year about whether to take one, and which one I'd choose]

This morning, whilst I have a lingering *hummmm* at the top of my noggin, the migraine has gone! Hurrah!

So up I got at 8.30 (very early for me on a weekend...I do love my lie-ins), switched on the laptop, made a brew and then looked at my emails - the class links were all still my stupidly over excited heart!


I have since spent the morning 'studying', doodling, supping tea and generally feeling quite wonderful.

And better still - this afternoon (once my boy is back from his pa's) I'm off to the Saltaire Makers' Fair to lots of lovely and terribly creative pals on their stalls, and hopefully chat and get started on the Christmas shopping....I know, I know, but realistically there aint a whole lot of pay days left between here and there and a girl must spread the cost.

this is the kind of studying I like!

Wishing you all a fabulous weekend!


Sunday, 5 August 2012

a tidy house is a tidy mind

I'm trying to embrace this saying as I have a deep need to get organised, tidy and clutter free - not being so, seems to be messing with my brain. Therefore, in an attempt to aid inner calm, I have begun the process.

Okay, this isn't the most exciting of posts, I'll grant you that. is important for me to document how I'm doing in order to keep track of progress and, most importantly, keep motivated!
I had a long hard think the other day about why I was feeling a bit bleurgh of late. There are a few contributing factors of which this is one (I may blog about the others in due course but I'm still deliberating about that) and so I figured, it's best to make a start than to just keep on feeling all bleurgh.
So here I am writing about sorting & tidying. Rock and roll. But my head is a little less foggy as a result of my efforts, which I'm taking as a positive step forward.

First up - birthdays. I am terrible at getting cards and presents out on time. I usually have said card and gift ready but actually getting them to the birthday boy or girl on their actual birthday seems to be a big issue for me. No idea why. Perhaps I'm just a bit rubbish.
I wrote the cards for the birthdays that are coming up in the next month, addressed the envelope, stuck on a stamp and wrote the date of the birthday in the bottom right hand corner. I then put them in the pocket of my fab wall calendar, ready to post a few days in advance. One has already been posted thus proving that this process works, so I am a happy bird. Pressies have yet to be tackled but my plan is to purchase and wrap at least a month in advance - and then arrange a visit or post in time, if need be. I shall have to get onto this next week.

Second - filing. [Ugh. Deep, stomach sinking UGH.]
I spent all of last Saturday ripping and shredding and sorting and now have tidy, up to date box files.
Note to self - don't leave it so long in future so that it takes mere minutes rather than an entire day!

Third - George's craft cupboard. Da da dahhhhhhhh.
The boy has so much stuff and it was in a beautiful cupboard that had an unfortunate habit of opening it's doors as you passed by, vomiting works of art onto the living room floor. Another full day later (and a couple of hours the night before) of emptying, sorting, donating to younger crafters, reorganising & recycling and it is done.
In fact we had a bit of a three birds for one stone result - George's stuff is now in a Cotswold Company basket storage unit...pens in one basket, crayons in another and so on - this way, if he wants paper and pencils, he just pulls out those two baskets and then puts them back once he's done. So much better than tubs in drawers and craft vomit on the floor.
As a result though, the Cotswold unit had to be emptied & sorted and put back into the old craft cupboard. After completing both of those I was amazed to discover that we had space left...a first! So, in went the placemats and huge serving bowls from the armoire in the kitchen thus, making the armoire a whole lot less cluttered.

I have also managed a bit of non-physical tidying today and have updated my blog header thanks to this fab tutorial on how to make a Picasa mosaic. The photo collages are also courtesy of the same method. Me likey!

All in all, I am chuffed with the progress made and I do feel happier and calmer of mind knowing that these tasks are completed.

Here's to a tidier mind...

PS when I started typing this a storm began over our village...we now have a stream running down the road and a pond instead of a patio;)

After writing that sentence above, I went to take a picture of said stream, only to find that it had doubled in size and was now a veritable river flowing down the road. Cue dropping of tools, donning of wellies and mac and out I went to inspect the potential flood damage for the neighbouring properties. An hour later, drenched with flood water and covered in sand from the shifting of sandbags into I came for a much needed shower! I am now clean and dry and warm and full of (slightly delayed) Sunday roast cooked by Paul.


Thursday, 19 July 2012


I love painting my nails! Love. Love. Love.

I love the action of clearing off the old polish, clipping, filing and moisturising and then starting the process again. I love taking my time and taking care, painting each stroke trying to avoid blobbing and splotching...and especially trying to avoid getting dark colours down the very side of the nail. Ugh - takes yonks to get that out.

BarryM's Pink Flamingo

I usually do mine on an evening. I'm not good at just sitting. So, I get out my trusty case filled with my nail paraphernalia, plonk my bum on the rug, find something to watch on the box and then, I begin.

First there's the base coat - I always use a base coat - at the moment I'm using Nail Magic because it also cares for your nails as well as providing a layer of protection from the colour itself.

Next up is the colour. Oh the choices! I love the way the colour can affect my mood, and vice versa. Some days I will paint them bright...a lovely pop of pull me out of a grey mood. It works too! I can see them flitting about in front of my eyes all the next day, spreading cheer as they type, wipe, pick and point.

Then I finish with a top coat - I've been using the same brand for years now...Revlon's Nail Care Top Coat. It helps my nails to dry quickly and leaves them all glossy and pretty. And it never fails.

I find the whole process very therapeutic..just lost in the routine with the TV show or film chatting away in the background. Bliss. Brain dead bliss.

BarryM's Foil Efftects Silver

My top tips:

  1. take your time -
    rushing it will only bodge it and make you have to do them again or live with dented or scuffed nails for a day or two. No satisfaction in that. Oh no, no, no.
  2. take care -
    file from the outside of the nail in for both sides, and then quickly file the very end in one lovely friend and super manicurist Sue taught me this - it reduces the chance of splitting
    if, like me, your nails aren't keen on over-filing, clip first with good quality nail clippers - i.e. ones that cut cleanly, straight through rather than chewing the nail off ~ then file the pointy bits off and to get a good shape
  3. change your polish often -
    nails need to breath...leaving polish on for weeks isn't good for them
  4. condition your nails -
    products such as Nail Magic are great for this, but there are many other options on the market...which do you recommend?
  5. paint on clean nails -
    once you've taken the polish off and filed and shaped your nails - go give them a quick wash and dry before painting
  6. splodged on your skin? -
    fear not! Wait for the polish to dry and then go and put your hands in some water for a minute or two, and you'll find that the polish simple peels off the skin. Works brilliantly for splodged toes after a shower.
I'm a plain nail kinda gal myself, but there are some fabulous nail art designs out there - Pinterest is filled with top DIY tips for glamming them up, spots n stripes, bunnies (!) and some very cool ombre effects. I've pinned a few myself if you want a peek.

So, which is your go to nail polish brand? Me? I'm a fan of BarryM for a quick fashion colour fix...especially the creme colours...Berry Icecream is divine and Pink Flamingo is making typing this post just so much little fingers, dance! The Foil Effects in silver is pretty magnificent too...great for a night out with matching tootises and wedges. I also like Essie though I've only tried a couple of colours and find them quite thin.

Ciate's Bon Bon

I recently tried Ciate as it was free with Marie Claire...the shade I got was called Bon Bon and is divine...nude without being nowty...I lovely lilac tinge to it, and by goodness it lasts for days chip-free and shiny. I'll definitely try more of theirs though I couldn't find Bon Bon on their site so maybe that one has been discontinued.

Gold glitter over Bon Bon

Are you a painted nail fan? Do you have any tips to share?


Tuesday, 1 May 2012

and relax

I have had a truly lovely day today, thanks to my mum and (part of) her birthday gift to me in March.

We both went to the Inside Spa at the Pendle Wavelengths leisure centre in Nelson, Lancashire for a Spa Experience.

After arriving, having a quick drink and signing the usual health and safety form, we grabbed our fluffy robes and towels and headed off to find the changing rooms. Swimming costumes on and it was spa time!

Two* blissful hours spent luxuriating in four different heat rooms:
• Aromatherapy With Essential Oils - quite warm and with a menthol vapour in the air, this started to increase our body temperatures and certainly cleared our airways! I confess I was a bit of a grumpy cow on arrival but, 10 minutes in here and I was relaxed and grump free. Result.
• Sanarium - slightly cooler than a standard sauna and with humidity..I loved this one and it warmed me to my bones.
• Salt Inhalation Steam Room - much hotter and more humid (obviously).
• Sauna - hotter still...I didn't actually make it into here as I'm not a big fan of 'super hot' doesn't go well with my colouring you know ;)

There were also Reflexology Footbaths - I so very nearly nodded off here! It's a good thing the bubbles are on a timer or I'd have been a-snoring ;) - Monsoon Showers (hot or cold), a Hydrotherapy Pool, an Ice Fountain and unlimited cold water to sup as we made our way round the spa.

*It's funny, when we first arrived, I couldn't see how we were going to fill the time but after an hour and a half we were so hot, relaxed and blissed-out that we headed for the showers.

The other side effect of the relaxing rooms was a raging hunger, despite having had breakfast before leaving home. Dry and dressed, we headed for our new favourite haunt, Cafe Cargo at Foulridge Wharfe for a bacon butty (Mum) and a Cajun chicken baguette (me) with a good kick to it, and a little more chatting. *happy sigh*

See...a truly, lovely day indeed!

In fact, so lovely that we have pledged to return's good for the soul don't you know and at mere £13 each, it would be rude not to.

I hope your Tuesday has treated you well.


Friday, 27 April 2012

Lambs and daffs


I've had a bit of a break from Ditsy Bird for the past couple of was a conscious decision due to problems I'd been having with my right arm. It seemed sensible to cut right back on the sewing, cutting, drawing and painting until it was better, as doing any of the aforementioned delights definitely made it worse. *sad face*
Whilst I was on my sabbatical I had a good long think about the future of Ditsy Bird Designs.
It was becoming startlingly clear that I couldn't, and would never be able to, run the business as a full time affair - simply because, the act of creating large numbers of designs for bulk/wholesale orders would cause me all sorts of RSI related issues. *sob*

This is when I did all sorts of unexpected soul-searching whilst morphing into a domestic goddess to take my mind of the lack of creating in my life. Initially, I considered packing it in altogether...but that was rash & foolish! How could I not 'make' - it's what I do, who I am! I mean...I'd go spare if I had no creative outlet at all...and what of all the 'poof' ideas that pop into my noggin from time to time...what would happen to them? Who would give them life?
Nope. That would not do. Not at all.
So...another long think later plus the interjection of the idea-at-the-back-of-my-mind-that-wants-to-be-heard and I finally came to a decision.
I would continue Ditsy Bird Designs for my pleasure, for a bit of money and in order to help. "Help?", I hear you ask. "How so?". By donating 20% of all my takings to charity is how.

In December 2010, my lovely mum got some truly shitty news. She was diagnosed with Mesothelioma, a terminal form of cancer in the internal chest wall (for can appear elsewhere), usually caused by exposure to asbestos. See...shitty! There then followed tests, a couple of operations to slow down the bugger's growth and a course of chemotherapy. All of this knocked the stuffing out of my lovely mum for a good few months. But by the end of the year, things were looking up. A cruise with her sisters starting the happy times off perfectly! Then she regained her strength, started to put weight back on and had pink cheeks for the first time in nearly 18 months...yay! Since then, Mum has continued to improve and as of today is looking & feeling tickityboo, with each consultation with the oncologists concluding with 'stable no growth'. Fantastic. *delighted sob* The latest appointment, two weeks ago had Mum coming away with an appointment not for 2 or 3 months later but 6 months. Hoo-bloody-rah-yay!!! *happy dance*

It's been a really tough sixteen months for all concerned (and wow,how far those ripples spread!) but weirdly it's also been a wonderful one. We've been reminded of just how supremely amazing our large and bonkers family is, and just how many fantastic friends we have. But it isn't over and it won't go away. And this is the thing with Mesothelioma...there simply is no cure. It's for that reason amongst many others that I've decided to try and raise money for the Mesothelioma UK Charitable Trust - to raise awareness (we'd never heard of it until the diagnosis!), to support the amazing work they do and to give something back for the fabulous care Mum has had, and will need in the future.
I couldn't find a super-fabby way of doing it so...I will be totting up any takings at the end of each month and, if there are any, I will be paying 20% of it into my Just Giving account.

Ditsy Bird is very much still up and running but with a different agenda and at a different pace.
Thankfully, me being me and stockpiling products as I do, I have lots of stock ready made to add to my shop - I will be slowly working my way through brooches, hair clip, gift tags, cards, masks, necklaces, rings, embroidered hoops, paintings and whatever else I can find...adding them as I go.

Why the lambs and daffs then? Well, that's because I love Spring (even if it is so terrifically wet) and wanted to share the love with a discount on my wares! If you enter the code LAMBSANDDAFFS at checkout on the website or in my Etsy shop, you will get 20% off your order. 

Well I'd best get back to the listing before the call of the sofa and Fringe gets too strong! Have a lovely weekend.

Thanks for popping by...cheerio for now!

UPDATE: I forgot to say that I when to see the doctor today (finally) about my arm, she told me that I have tennis elbow. Hmph. Could be worse tho ;)

Monday, 5 March 2012


Whilst the serious making is on hold for the time being, I thought I'd share with you some of my recent inspiration...Cloth•Paper•Scissors.

Probably not new to any mixed media artists out there and it wasn't new to me either but, whilst inactive & needing inspiration, I asked the mister to buy me the latest issue whilst he was out & about (the newsagent in the Town Hall car park in Skipton stocks a wealth of hard to get publications & a lot of them arty/creative).

Back he came with the Jan/Feb2012 issue & I swear I have never devoured a magazine quite so thoroughly & with such pleasure! I carried it around with me for the first week, dipping in & out of certain articles as they caught my fancy & trying out one of the tutorials...Word Birds by Ann Ellis.

I have wanted to try collage for a long, long time but seeing the amazing creations other people dream up, very much stopped me from trying it myself. Silly really but when I see collage and mixed media art I'm always struck by how free the artist must be to pull it all together so naturally...I was worried I wasn't 'free' enough & that anything I created would look forced. So, with the idea of filling a whole canvas being a monstrously daunting task, I hadn't bothered even trying.

Until I came across these birds! They were the absolute perfect size to break my teeth on...and so I just got stuck right in, drawing and cutting out 8 bird shapes and their wings [this is another problem I have...I can never just try 1, it had to be 8 *shakes head at self* ] & then pulling out tissue papers and the like ready to make. Now I will say that after gesso-ing all the shapes (I'd used old Graze boxes which are brown in colour & I didn't want this showing through) and pva-ing 6 of them & gluing on the torn tissue bits, I did start to think I was wasting my time.

You know that "what AM I doing feeling"? But I persevered & even dug out the paints for a couple of them. Once the wings were on I could start to see them come to life and quietly lost myself in the process for a couple of hours, playing with colours, sticking on embellishments & writing out little sayings.

Now, you can see that they are hugely influenced by Ann's own designs but I am so pleased with them - they were such fun to make that I'm having a crack at some of my own designs but using a similar method & hoping to use them in a different way. 

Well, I've become very sidetracked with telling my birdy story when what I intended to do was to tell you all about Cloth•Paper•Scissors *tsk* *tsk* Ms Ditsy!

I loved this issue & I think a lot of it was down to timing...the whole mixed media/collage slant plus my break from making-to-sell giving my creative mind time to think, ponder & stretch a little. Wanting to feed this stretching, I registered with the CPS site and my, oh my, there is SO much help & information & inspiration & wonderful free resources...and for all sorts of media. I urge you to take a look when you're next on the pc or your phone and having a little internet browse. You never know what it may spark off so remember...