Capture Real Life – week 2 – guilty pleasure

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The challenge for week 2 of capture real life was guilty pleasures and I thought long and hard about this. Until recently my guilty pleasures were coke zero and chocolate but I’m not drinking / eating those anymore and anyway, even when I was I think there was more guilt involved than pleasure. So what was my guilty pleasure? And then I knew, Plants vs Zombies!

I’m not, as a rule, that into computer games, I do have a very long standing relationship with the game Civilization but I try not to play that because an hour on that can quickly turn into a day and anyway, my middle aged Mac can’t play the newest version and I’m still sulking about that. I’ve flirted with Angry Birds in the past (hasn’t everybody?) and I am partial to a bit of Peggle (although the latest version is a bit of a preemium rip off, so I don’t play that anymore) but I am totally and utterly faithful to Plants vs Zombies.

I came late to Plants vs Zombies, I remember the kids and Mr. Lacer being very into the original and I was as usual “Oh god, not another computer game” but then, in a moment of weakness / boredom a few months later, after the initial family fandom had died down, I downloaded it onto my Mac and I was hooked. When the new version came out I was as giddy as a school girl and I still am every time they release new levels for it (like right now some more new levels are due and I am beginning to check my iPad for updates at a very unhealthy frequency and I know there will be some squealing when they come).

Mr. Lacer and Girl Lacer are not into Plants vs Zombies anymore, well ok, Girl Lacer still plays Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare quite a lot but it’s me and Boy Lacer who are the hard core fans (me more so than Boy Lacer). I can not start my morning without playing the daily Piñata party and when I’ve run out of levels to play (like I have at the moment, which is why I’m even more excited about the new Ice Age levels coming soon), I’ll often play the Endless Zones.

I am trying to cut down on the tech time in my life but Plants vs Zombies is definitely going to stay; I love that I can share the one iPad game I play with my computer mad son, I love that the developers are always keeping the game fresh with new content, I love that although it’s a preemium game they don’t make it impossible to progress without spending real money and I love how fun and colourful it is (eek I sound like I’m either middle aged or a pre-schooler with that last one). So it’s my guilty pleasure because a small part of me says I shouldn’t be so hooked but it gives me so much pleasure I don’t care and as you can see, I’ve got the tshirt to prove it!

The zombie and the peashooter were hand drawn by me using tutorials from here. I added them to my photo using Photoshop which was definitely another #TSNEM for me this month as I’ve never done anything that ‘advanced’ with photoshop before and it was a definite learning curve!

Previous weeks

Week 1 – day and night

Week 3 – nature

#TSNEM

January – acrylic painting

February – ribbing and using layer masks in Photoshop

#TSNEM January – acrylic painting

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My #TSNEM this January was acrylic painting, I’ve always wanted to encourage myself to do more (like some at all!) painting and drawing and I’ve always been a bit disheartened because I’m not very good at it but in the back of my head there’s always that voice going “Well you’re not going to get good at something unless you practice!”, so I’m practising! And I think I may have found another clue as to what my painting and drawing ‘thing’ is, I prefer and am more comfortable creating modern / non realistic art, as put it this way I can’t do realism at all anyway! And also, when I think about it, if you could give me a day where I could visit a modern art gallery or a ‘traditional’ art gallery but not both, I would go for the modern art gallery every single time, so I guess it should be a case of draw / paint what you love then.

Anyway, my first acrylic painting was very much done with lots of virtual hand holding via a tutorial on Creativebug by Lisa Congdon called Paint a Geometric Star and I found it to be very helpful and inspiring and I really enjoyed the entire process, so I definitely plan on doing more! I particularly liked how the process forces you to do it in small steps; the straight lines were created with artist tape and so you could only paint small sections at a time and as it required several layers for each section, the whole thing took me over a week I think. I’ve been doing a lot of housework recently, in particular in my bedroom / makeshift (because I don’t have anywhere else) craft space (I know the top of my chest of drawers in the photo above looks messy but honestly but that’s it in its tidy state!) and so I would get out my acrylic paints and my in progress painting, paint a section or two, go off and do some housework and then come back and paint another layer, do more housework and so and so on. So it made a fantastic mini creative break between all the drudgery.

I’m really looking forward to my #TSNEM February now!

#craft365 day 151 – 180

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Day 166 – the mood blanket continues

I always find the month after Christmas an odd one crafting wise (and in other ways to, thinking about it), I’ll have just finished a whole load of projects (or given up on them and bought a last minute present instead) and that means a new month means, potentially anyway, the chance for a whole load of new projects. But at the same time I tend to be embroidered out (if that is at all possible) and it’s a time when I look at my long term wips that are now so long term that they classify as something I started last year and I don’t want to really start anything new.

have started some new projects mind you and have already given up on one of them, they were

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Day 165 – sky 2015 needlepoint

I’ve given up on this already, I really really like the idea of recording sky colour daily, like with my sky scarf but the sky scarf wasn’t really that accurate with the choice of two colours of wool each day out of a choice between dark grey, light grey, dark blue, light blue and white. There are after all a lot more shades of blue and if you’ve chosen to combine a blue wool with a grey or white wool to represent the cloud colour that day, it’s like I said, a bit inaccurate. So, not wanting to knit another sky thing (although making a sky blanket one year might be good, as that way you get round the tangling wool issue I had with the scarf), I decided to do some needlepoint. Obviously with needlepoint you can only use one colour per day but I chose a greater range of colours and I was planning on going on actual sky colour, ignoring the cloud colour, unless the sky was completely overcast. But, whereas it was easy (if not, like I say, completely accurate) to look at the sky each day and go ‘dark grey, dark blue’ for example and then remember it to write it down later, even with my little coded card I made, which you can see in the photo above, it was hard to remember which colour was which day. I had planned to take the little card around with me but I’m not that organised and even when I did, I was normally too busy at midday (when I’ve been making a note of the sky colour) to go and get the card out of my bag and work out which colour the sky most resembled. And as I found out, even though I had chosen a greater range of colours, it still wasn’t anywhere nearly enough to be accurate. So, for those reasons and a reason I will go into below, I’ve decided to stop.

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 Day 180

I have started (despite not finishing my 2014 version yet and being nowhere near finishing it – but I will) a 2015 mood blanket. I’m making it out of EPP hexagons this time and it is a darn sight quicker than knitting!

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Day 170

As I mentioned in my sky scarf post, one of the reasons why I did the sky scarf and mood blanket last year was to encourage me to become a more regular and (slightly more) confident knitter and it’s worked! I’m currently working on an adapted snood pattern from Wool & The Gang, which I absolutely love.

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Day 168

I’ve also been doing a bit more patchwork inspired by Lu Summers brilliant Quilt Improv* book which had me raring to do some patchwork pretty much as soon as I downloaded it. I think (realistically) it’ll be a while before I’ve finished making what I plan to do with these squares though.

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Day 178

I have also been doing some acrylic painting as part of my #TSNEM.

So, basically no embroidery in sight at the moment, but I remember very well that this happened last January to and then after a while my fingers began itching for my embroidery needles again and it all exploded in an explosion of embroidery (I could have thought of a better metaphor there). But there has been one other ‘crafty’ thing I’ve been doing in the past 30 days and it’s something that has made me realise that I can not have too many wips on the go at any one time, I’ve been reorganising my craft space. It’s still very much a work in progress but I’ve recently replaced the desk I was *ahem* supposed to be working on, with a new book case, as with the desk taking up space in my room I didn’t have enough storage space, so I used the desk as storage, hence no working space anyway. Replacing it with another bookcase (I already had three floor to ceiling bookcases in my bedroom, which are mainly filled with books), means that my stuff is stored vertically instead of horizontally and I’ve got more floor space which makes the space slightly more pleasant for what it’s really meant to be for, i.e. a bedroom, not a craft room. Rearranging my space is still ongoing, I need to continue having a massive clear out, I’ve been using the principles describing in this blog post from Wendi Gratz and it has been really really helping, I chucked out three bin bags worth of stuff yesterday and I think that’s probably only around 50% of the stuff that needs to go, probably even less. But going back to why decluttering has made me realise I can’t have too many wips on the go at any one time, it’s that when I’m not working on a wip I usually store it in bags, I find Cass Art bags great for storing larger projects, I have either handmade pouches or A5 pouches from Smiggle (the Smiggle pouches are fantastic as they have large zipped compartments which are good for separating out floss and they’re just about big enough for a small hoop) for embroidery and see through flat plastic wallets for cross stitch (I use tins as well sometimes for cross stitch to) and anyway, when I look at my new bookcase, I’ve come to realise that there are way too many Cass Art bags, pouches, folders and tins, all with wips, stuffed on it. So despite starting some new stuff this year, I really, really can’t start too much more, as I’ve literally got nowhere to put it and what I have got going is taking up too much space as it is. So I have to cut down both on my clutter and what I’m creating at any one time, so that means, in part, finishing some stuff!

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Day 179 – a small section of my new shelves

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October on Instagram

It’s been a busy month on Instagram for me, some of the photos have already appeared here or elsewhere but here are some that haven’t.

1st October

map cushion map cushion text16th October

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19th October

RICHMOND PARK

 

I went for yet another one of my walks in Richmond Park, this time I thought I wouldn’t take my camera, instead use my phone if I saw anything, of course I pretty much instantly regretted it but I did get some good (I think) snaps, including these furry cows. Call me too much of a city dweller but I never knew that there were breeds of cow that were that furry or in fact that there were cows in Richmond Park. I don’t know if the cows are always there (they were in a bit I don’t normally walk in) or whether they are there over-wintering or something, they may possibly be the same cows I sometimes see by the river whilst I’m on the bus to Richmond (too far away to tell if they’re furry or not).

22nd October

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26th October

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And it was delicious.

27th October

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We went to Kew to do the deadly plants trail (now over sadly) which was great fun.

30th October

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But we got there eventually, if anything because we chose a spot where the view was partially obscured by some trees, but we still got to see the poppies pouring out of the window again, which is my favourite bit.

After that we walked into Shoreditch.

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To go and see The Art of the Brick exhibition, which was great fun and the kids (particularly Boy Lacer I think) really liked.

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#craft365 day 31-60

For most of the last 30 days the kids have been back at school, you’d think that would mean more time for crafting, ha ha ha *hollow laugh*. As usual after the summer holidays, I’m faced with a flat that’s even more of a wreck than normal and I have spent most of the time since the kids have been back at school either having a massive sort out, booting up my exercise and diet regime up to the notch it should have been all summer if I hadn’t been looking after the kids and running between various appointments, so crafting hasn’t had much of a look in.

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I have completed some things (the Cozy Blue embroideries and #spoonchallenge, both of which were blogged earlier this month) but other than those, it feels like a whole lot of stuff just standing still. Such as –

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*doing – duh me

I’m still practicing my Illustrator.

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which is why I’m posting it

And this one was for my sister.

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I’ve also been practicing in a more analogue way.

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I’ve managed to get a lot more cooking done to (as you may see from my ‘On the menus’) and that included some baking, which I counted as creative.

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I also managed to do a bit of work towards my professional goals, nowhere near as much as I would have liked though.

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Finishing #Spoonchallenge

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So I finished #spoonchallenge yesterday (or should I say in the early hours of this morning – what can I say, I was having too much fun). For someone who is not really that into challenges, I had such fun doing this and I think I really benefited from it. When I look back at the sort of very simple pieces I was doing at the beginning of the challenge and compare it to what I was confident enough to do at the end, then wow. It goes to show that regular practice really does help. Here are some of my favourites out of the pieces I did in the last week or so.

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Shard

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A London Day Out

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It’s nearly the end of the summer holidays, we’ve had a lovely break and it’s (almost) over way too quickly. We haven’t had many days out because we’re a bit broke and well, having lived in London so long (well the kids have been born and bred here), we pretty much exhausted the normal kiddy options ages ago (we have been to Kew though and will be doing so again – the joys of annual membership and free kid entry – which is always fun, despite the expression on Boy Lacer’s face most the time – except when ankle deep in mud or clambering along an obstacle course). But I couldn’t let the summer holidays past without one proper excursion, so we did a bit of a two in one (which is not really that advisable, specially when it’s so easy to get into London from where we live on the outskirts, so it’s much more kid friendly to do smaller trips, but the kids are getting older, so I thought I’d stretch their stamina a bit). In the morning we went into Shoreditch to have a look at some street art, we didn’t do an organised tour (that would have been stretching Boy Lacer too much) but I remembered most of the route I took when I took a tour a couple of years ago. We also stumbled across quite a few street art tour groups, so I have to admit if we saw a group down a particular alley, we did go and see what they were looking at! I do think though that bored younger kids aside, a street art tour is the best way to go, as I know I missed bits from the tour I remembered going on, as I couldn’t remember where the streets were and also the street art is changing all the time, so it pays (and it is always worth supporting) to go around on a tour with someone who really knows the area.

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August street art 1

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We then made our way to the Felt Cornershop, which is about a 5-10 minute walk from the edge of Shoreditch in Bethnal Green (or 15-20 minutes if you’re on the wrong side of Shoreditch as we were). It was worth the walk (although if you want to see it hurry, it’s only there until the end of August).

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We then got the bus back towards the river and headed for the Tower of London. I wanted to see the Tower principally because of the poppies  (see getting my art in even with my history) but as we were there and I owed Girl Lacer a trip into the Tower from about two years ago, we went in to see the Tower as well.

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We did the kids activity trail in the Tower, which was quite good, it made the Tower fairly manageable (you don’t see everything on the trail, but we had been before) and we got to see and learn about bits which I wouldn’t have necessarily picked up otherwise. My favourite bit was in one of the towers were they held posh prisoners, there was beautifully intricate and neat graffiti on the wall, you’d have thought being held in a tower with direct views over the lawns where people got their heads chopped off would be inspiring some more desperate and scrawly graffiti, not something so neat. But as Girl Lacer (who’d read more of the labels than me) pointed out, apparently the prisoners would sometimes hire expert stone masons to do it for them!

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As well as the trail we also went in to see the Crown Jewels, which had been updated a bit since I last saw it. The queue to get in was very long (about half an hour) and really, once in the building, it still effectively is a queue, you’re just slightly more entertained. It reminded me of the entrance to a theme park ride, you know how you queue up for ages outside it, get inside the ride and still queue up some more whilst looking at some ride related stuff and then the actual ride, once you get to it, is over quite quickly? Well the Crown Jewels are like that, they even have a travelator (quite slow) which takes you past the crowns, so everyone gets a chance to see them and you’re not trying to peer over a crowd. I did quite like the films and stuff you see before the actual jewels, as they feature the jewels filmed in quite stunning close up, which, when you actually get to see them, is in more detail than you actually see. However, warning, I’d recommend a toilet break before you get in the queue if you’re with an eight year old who has already drunk two bottles of water….

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