Sunday, 30 January 2011

More from Beatrice the Computer Queen

She’s been at it again… The other day I came in to find that she had set up her own user account on my Windows 7 laptop:

Beatrice's Typing 5 Logging On

(This picture isn’t terribly good quality I’m afraid, because before actually logging onto Windows, I couldn’t get the “prt scr” (print screen) function to work so I couldn’t do a screen grab, and I had to photograph my computer screen instead.)

You can see that she has tried to switch user from my account to hers, and she’s typed in her password. This is quite a long password, and until today, I couldn’t imagine what it was. I posted about it on the Brainfog (M.E.) forum today, and one of our members said, “I've just hacked into Beatrice's account. (The password is 'miaooooooooooooooooooooooow', by the way.) There wasn't much there, just some dodgy pics of mice.”

Ha ha ha ha ha!!! Nice one.

Talking of hacking, I am very concerned that she’s going to hack into my Paypal account and start running up huge bills on Ebay, ordering all sorts of things that will start turning up on the doorstep. (I wonder what she would order?)

Alternatively, she might start booking expensive foreign holidays for herself and Phoebe, all at my expense. Of course, she might limit this to the odd visit to London to go and look at the Queen, but nevertheless, perhaps I need to install better security measures.

A few days ago she had another go, this time on my big Vista laptop. This time she decided to do some file sharing. Now this is something I have not done, and don’t really know much about – I have a NAS drive (Network Attached Storage) – a large capacity external hard drive on the internal network in the house, and I use this to share my files between my computers. This is what she did:

Beatrice's Typing 6 File Sharing

You will note that she has called herself “User i” but this has not been recognised.
Other people tell me that they don’t know about file sharing either, and that perhaps Beatrice can teach them. I know she is intending to set up a Computer Academy for Kitties online, but I think perhaps she needs to permit human applicants to join her classes, too, as she’s obviously got a lot to teach us all.
My hubby says the only reason she goes on the laptops is because they are warm, and we know what a warmth worshipper she is. However, if she was just going on there to warm her cold paws, how come she does such clever stuff? It’s beyond coincidence. She’s obviously a lot cleverer than he will give her credit for. He still doesn’t believe me when I say that that kitty understands every word you say. You can tell she does, because she answers “yes” but not “no” to certain questions! If you ask her if she’s the most beautiful kitty in the world, she answers “yes,” but if you ask her if Phoebe is the most beautiful kitty, she won’t answer.

I mentioned on the Brainfog forum that if she does all this clever computer stuff just by sitting on the computer, maybe if we sat on our computers we could do clever stuff too. One member said that she didn’t know what her computer would do if she sat on it, but it probably wouldn’t ever work again!!!

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Craft Show

On 27th January I attended the Craft 4 Crafters show at Westpoint, Exeter. My hubby very kindly drove me over, and picked me up at the end of the day, and in the meantime went off to see his brothers, and also to do our weekly grocery shop, which was a tremendous help.

I had an absolutely wonderful time, spending a whole day doing something I really enjoy, knowing I would most likely pay the price afterwards, but sometimes you just have to let it go, have a good time and ignore the consequences – as long as you don’t make a habit of it!!

As before, the Egg Crafters’ Guild was there with their wonderful display, and again they allowed me to take some photos of their exquisite work. I loved this little ladybird:

Decorated Eggs 1 Ladybird

She looks ready to spread her wings and fly away home!
All the eggs were so beautiful this year, as I am sure you will agree.

Decorated Eggs 2 White and Gold with Pearls

Decorated Eggs 3 Bird of Paradise Flower 1

Decorated Eggs 4 Purple Flowers

Decorated Eggs 5 Pink Roses

Decorated Eggs 6 Pierced White Rose

Decorated Eggs 7 Pierced Lattice

I photographed this one last year, but not from this angle. It is based on a Faberge egg.

Decorated Eggs 8 Faberge

Decorated Eggs 9 Blue Butterfly

Decorated Eggs 10 Qin Dynasty Helmet

Decorated Eggs 12 Purple Roses

Aren’t they exquisite?

The Glitter Man wasn’t there this time – the one I thought looked like a pirate king in his cave, but there was some glitter for sale – in bulk!!


I didn’t buy any because I find Stickles (glitter glue) a lot easier to handle, but I love looking at it. This picture really doesn’t do it justice – in real life it was much more glittery!

I took a few photos of displays that were just a lovely feast of colour and texture. Here are some embroidery threads:

Embroidery Threads

and some wools:

Wools 1

Wools 2

and some scarves.


I visited the stand of the Westcountry Embroiderers – I used to belong to a local group when we lived in Plymouth, but after we moved I was too busy and never got round to joining the local group where we live now, although I know one or two people who belong. It was a lovely group to belong to; we used to meet for a day once a month, and alternate months would be workshop days when we took along our own work to do in the company of others, and chat and share ideas etc., and the other months would be day schools when a teacher would come and show us a particular skill or technique. I learnt such a lot during that time!
This year at the show, as well as displaying a few individual pieces of their work which they’d done recently, the members had decided to make a special display on the theme of fans, and it was fascinating to see how each member had interpreted this theme. This is a picture of part of the display:

WCE Fans 1

and some more detailed shots:

WCE Fans 2

WCE Fans 3

WCE Fans 4

WCE Fans 5

WCE Fans 6

WCE Fans 7

WCE Fans 8

In addition to looking at all this wonderful stuff, I was in search of bargains, of course! I managed to stock up on quite a lot of things – staples such as double sided tape, cardstock and glue of various kinds, and also got a whole lot of new Stickles in fabulous jewel colours, more Perfect Pearls (mica powder with a binding agent so you can paint or spray them on with water and when they are dry, they do not come off), embossing powders and distress inks – I think I’ve now got most of the colours. I also found some wires for my Cinch binding machine. In addition, I made a point of visiting a stand whose website I’d looked up the night before, which sold mixed media materials – this is something I want to get into more, as I really enjoyed my experiments with meltings last year. I bought some Tyvek and various other bits and pieces on that stand, and they were very helpful with instructions, and said to email them if I needed further help, or go on their website.

Last year there was someone showing how to make the most beautiful flowers out of florist’s ribbon, and by the time I got to his stand I really felt I’d spent enough money, so decided against buying the DVD and kit, thinking I would remember how to do it, but of course when the time came, I couldn’t remember. I made a few, but they were quite difficult and it took me a long time, and I didn’t have the correct tool for shredding the ribbon, so this time I looked out for him, and made a point of visiting him and buying the stuff. I am looking forward to getting down to that, as they are so pretty – I shall probably use the larger ones for decorating wrapped gifts; the smaller ones have greater potential for  projects. The lady who was helping him said that as I’d made a point of coming back to them, she would give me 2 extra lengths of ribbon free! I chose my colours in pairs – a lighter and darker version of each colour – if I don’t make them all up into flowers, this is lovely for iris folding, which I’d like to get back to, having done some a few years ago.

It was great visiting all the stands and seeing so many things that I normally only see online – it gives you a much better impression to see them “in the flesh.” I didn’t buy a lot of equipment – mostly materials – but I picked up a bow maker that I’d seen on TV and which looked good.

My Purchases

The demos were absolutely fantastic this year. I watched someone doing needle felt, which I’d love to try, but have put on the back burner for now as I have got enough to do without starting something new! She was wearing a necklace made of felt in the shape of liquorice allsorts which was causing quite a lot of amusement – they really did look good enough to eat! – and she had a glass jar on the stand, with more of the same. She was making little teddy bears, and had lots of lovely flowers and other things on display that she had made.

I watched someone using white embossing powder on card, and then inking the card so that the embossed part acted as a resist, creating a background from blended inks. I have done a bit of this, but she then stamped on top, using the same stamp as the resist, to make a shadow effect. On some of them she also stamped a sentiment. These were so quick to do, and so effective, and she demonstrated how to think outside the box and not just automatically use the whole stamp, but look at different elements of it, and use it in unusual ways.
On another stand, someone was doing something similar with ink blending, making a frame from torn paper and using it as a stencil, and then stamping randomly over the top, using the stamp several times from one impression on the stamp pad, to give several images of varying intensity, which gave a lovely soft effect with lots of depth. She had made some beautiful little mini-albums which were displayed on her stand.

These two demos made me think again about stamping. When I started, I bought quite a lot of stamps, and haven’t really used them much, preferring to do things that I thought were less limiting, but I now realise that there is much more to stamping than just plonking an image in the middle of a card and colouring it!
Someone else was using stencil brushes to ink his samples, instead of a blending pad, and getting some lovely stippled results. Distress inks are so versatile, and you can get so many different effects with them. I agree with the people who say they no longer get their watercolours out – they just use distress inks!
There was so much to see, too much for one day really. When I arrived I decided to be very disciplined and go to the stands I’d decided in advance I wanted to visit – for example the one that sold the PureLite bulbs which I use – I thought I’d stock up with a few spares – and then to look for the things that were on my list but not necessarily on any specific stand. After that, it was time for lunch, and then I could relax and make my way around the whole show.
I took sandwiches for my lunch, and sat at one of the small tables they’d provided by the cafeteria. An older couple and their daughter asked if they could join me – the daughter was a wheelchair user, and we soon got talking and discovered that we both had M.E.! She had become ill after a bout of chicken pox twenty years ago, and we both agreed how much we appreciate our carers – in her case her parents, and in mine, my hubby – without whom we couldn’t do half the things we do. She was unable to go round the show on her own, but with the power add-on for my wheelchair, I was able to, as this gives me a lot more independence. Without it I would become much too fatigued in a very short time. Much as I appreciate my hubby, I would not have enjoyed the show as much if he had been there, because it isn’t really his thing, and I would have been worried about him being bored – and also he would have witnessed exactly how much I was spending!!!!! – he’s very good about this and never makes a fuss, but what the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over!
On that subject, the previous day, we had been watching an old episode of “The Good Life” on TV, and Margot had surprised everyone by saying, in the pub, “This one’s on me.” She turned to her husband and said, “Jerreh… Moneh!!” Most of the people at the show were ladies, but there were a few faithful husbands trailing along, and I told one of them about this, and he said, “Yes! That’s me!!” and roared with laughter! I think most crafters’ husbands are very longsuffering and good natured! (They need to be…)

It was an absolutely wonderful day, but about an hour before my hubby was due to pick me up, my excitement, enthusiasm and adrenalin were no longer up to the job and I couldn’t keep going any longer – which was a shame because the crowds had thinned out my then and I could see everything a lot more easily. By the time he came, I was utterly pooped and when we got home, was completely unable to do anything apart from eat my fish and chips that we picked up on the way home! I couldn’t keep awake, so decided to go to bed early, but as usual when that happens, I slept appallingly badly and was fully expecting to be suffering badly the day after, but although I was very tired and not able to do much, I didn’t feel too bad! Payback can be delayed, of course, but I am hoping that first night was enough!

Now all that remains do be done is for me to try out all my new purchases and Have Fun! I have already started putting them away, and enjoying handling them and anticipating all the lovely things I am going to make with them, and looking back on an entirely enjoyable and perfect day.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Valentine Card

I’m feeling very pleased with myself because I’ve managed to complete my hubby’s Valentine card ahead of time – usually I am racing against deadlines! Also, I completed the project in a day, which is practically unheard of for me, as I am usually a very slow worker.

The finished card is A5 size, the base for it being a folded sheet of black A4 cardstock.

Valentine Card 1 Outside

I have matted a piece of gold mirri-card, onto which is a piece of white 100 gsm paper printed with text on the computer, and then inked with Victorian Velvet Distress Ink. The lower part of the card consists of a small piece of dark red cardstock, embossed with the Swiss Dots Cuttlebug folder, and finished with a piece of black ribbon with flecks of gold – this is from a collection of textured ribbons that I recently acquired. I haven’t really used ribbon in any of my projects yet, and was keen to try.

I cut the two hearts by hand from dark red and bright red cardstock respectively, and the dark red one I embossed with parallel lines using my Scor-Pal scoring board. The bright red one was embossed with Swiss Dots again, in the Cuttlebug, and I then inked them with Black Soot Distress Ink, using my brayer. The parallel lines came out fine, but I think I may have pressed harder with the brayer on the Swiss Dots one, or it may be that I inked the lined one before I cut out the heart, but inked the Swiss Dots one after I had cut out the shape. I was about to throw it away and start again, but I looked at it again and actually rather liked the distressed look. The two hearts are tied together with some gold embroidery thread, with dimensionals between them, and underneath, and a small blob of Pinflair glue securing the gold thread to prevent it untying.
I cut two further half heart shapes and embossed and inked them in the same way, for the inside of the card.

The butterfly was cut using Penny Duncan’s lacy butterfly .svg file (see her blog in my Blog List for a link to her cut files) – I cut the background piece from white cardstock, and the lacy foreground piece from black cardstock and stuck them together. Then I inked the edges with Black Soot Distress Ink. I rubbed this ink pad on my craft mat, and spritzed on a little water, and painted the edges and the back with a watercolour brush.  The tips of the antennae and highlighing on the body were done with gold heat embossing. I folded the wings upwards, and then I made a second butterfly the same, cut off the antennae and body and stuck it down flat on the card, and then stuck the top butterfly on top. Before sticking it down, I added a blob of Pinflair glue under each wing to keep them projecting upwards – they will squash down sufficiently to go in an envelope, but spring up again nicely.

Valentine Card 2 Inside

For the inside of the card, I printed an insert on the computer. I made a montage of several different images of grass, flowers and butterflies, reducing the opacity of the background part, and then converting the colour of the whole design. The montage was done in my photo editing software (Serif PhotoPlus) and then finished, with the addition of the text, in my desktop publisher (Serif PagePlus). The insert was then printed, and trimmed to be slightly smaller than the card itself, and adhered with a strip of double-sided tape onto the left-hand side of the black card base, just beside the hinge, so that when you open the card, the insert opens with it.

I placed the two embossed half heart pieces onto a piece of scrap card and drew round them, cutting out the resulting heart shape and using it as a mask to ink onto the card insert with Victorian Velvet Distress Ink. I then glued the two embossed heart shapes down flat onto the masked shape, with no dimensionals this time.

Here are some close-up pictures of various elements of the card.

Valentine Card 3 Butterfly Detail

Valentine Card 4 Hearts Detail

Valentine Card 5 Two Hearts Text

Valentine Card 6 Be My Valentine Text

Valentine Card 7 Butterfly Background 1

Do you think my hubby will guess who it’s from?

More Ancient Books

My hubby has just produced some other old books he’s got – also found at the back of the church – the first is an absolute gem. It is a printed book, entitled “Certain Sermons or Homilies Appointed to be Read in Churches, in the Time of Queen Elizabeth of famous memory: and Now thought fit to be Reprinted by the Authority from the King’s moft Excellent Majefty” (note long “s”s) published in 1676, during the reign of Charles II. The print is in the old Gothic style and the pages are wonderfully dog-eared and distressed – it’s a real treasure! As far as the subject matter is concerned, listen to this:

A Table of the Sermons Contained in this prefent Volume.
I. A Fruitful Exhortation to the reading of Holy Scripture.
II. Of the mifery of all Mankind.
VII. Againft Swearing and Perjury.
X. An Exhortation to Obedience.
XI. Againft Whoredom and Adultery.
...and so on!

There is one entitled “An Homily Against Disobedience and Wilful Rebellion” in six parts, followed by “A Thanksgiving for The Supprefsion of the Laft Rebellion.”
My hubby had already told me about one of the sermons, which is entitled “An Homily Against Excefs of Apparel” which had amused him greatly, so I made a point of looking at this one. I love the ancient spellings, too; in its introduction, there is a passage quoting David in one of the psalms, referring to “wine to make glad the heart, and oyls and oyntments to make the face to fhine” which I love! (Doesn’t “oyl” sound so much more “oyly” than “oil,” and “oyntments” so much more potent than “ointments”?)

Later it says, “Which, if it were obferved, many one doubtlefs fhould be compelled to wear a ruffet-coat, which now ruffleth in filks and velvets, fpending more by the year in fumptuous apparel, than their Fathers received for their whole Revenue of their Lands...” “he that ruffleth in his Sables, in his fine furred gown, corked flippers (!) trim busking, and warm mittons, is more ready to chill for cold, than the poor labouring man, which can abide in the Field all the day long, when the North-wind blows, with a few beggarly clouts about him.” “We must have one Gown for the day, another for the night, one long, another fhort, one for Winter, another for Summer, one through-furred, another but faced, one for the working-day, another for the holy-day, one of this colour, another of that colour, one of Cloath, another of Silk or Damask. We must have change of apparel, one afore dinner, and another after, one of the Spanifh fafhion, another Turky: and to be brief, never content with fufficient.” Isn’t this simply +marvellous? “Thus with our phantaftical devices, we make our felves laughing-stocks to other Nations, while one fpendeth his Patrimony upon pounces and cuts, another beftoweth more on a dancing fhirt, than might fuffice to buy him honeft and comely apparel for his whole body.” (As my hubby says, this is just the MEN!!!)

This “tome” is an absolute gem! You never hear sermons like that these days.
You have been warned. No more ruffling in filks and velvets, and get those corked flippers off, and put on some honest beggarly clouts!

Here are some pictures of this ancient book.

Book of Sermons 1 Cover

It has a leather cover which, as you can see, is very worn. This is the title page:

Book of Sermons 2 Title Page

and the first page of the Preface:

Book of Sermons 3 Preface

This is how the printed pages appear:

Book of Sermons 4 Pages 1

and in detail:

Book of Sermons 7 Print Detail

This is how the titles to the sermons appear:

Book of Sermons 5 Sermon Title Page

Towards the back of the book is a prayer:

Book of Sermons 6 Prayer

This is the final page of the book.

Book of Sermons 8 Final Page

My hubby also brought home another book for me to see. This is a copy of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, and it is a very large book with wooden covers bound with leather, and which unfortunately has become very worm-eaten. He tells me that after the Reformation, all English churches were required to have four books: a Bible, a Prayer Book, a Book of Sermons, and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. The copy of Foxe that we have is normally chained to the wall of the church to prevent it’s being stolen, with a stout iron chain, but a modern combination padlock has been added at some stage, and there appear to be hacksaw marks on it where someone has had a go at stealing it!

Foxe's Book of Martyrs 1

The style of printing is more modern than the Book of Sermons, but still employs the long “s.”

Foxe's Book of Martyrs 2 Pages

Foxe's Book of Martyrs 3 Page Corners 1

The corners are wonderfully dog-eared and distressed.

Foxe's Book of Martyrs 4 Page Corners 2

Here are some pictures showing the cover and chain in more detail. On this one you can see the hacksaw marks on the modern padlock.

Foxe's Book of Martyrs 5 Front Cover

On this picture you can see the tooling on the leather cover, and the worm holes.

Foxe's Book of Martyrs 6 Front Cover Detail 1

Foxe's Book of Martyrs 7 Front Cover Detail 2

More detail of the leather tooling:

Foxe's Book of Martyrs 8 Front Cover Leather Detail

and finally one of the clasps.

Foxe's Book of Martyrs 9 Clasp Detail

This book has now been returned to the church. The text of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, a great Christian classic, is available online.

I still have the Book of Sermons because I want to delve into this more deeply, and maybe type out some of the text.

Handling these ancient books, I feel as if I have been handling history. I often wonder how many similar treasures are hidden up and down the land, in churches, in stately homes, in attics. Even after many years of “The Antiques Roadshow” being broadcast, it is amazing how many artefacts continue to surface year by year, all part of our national heritage, and worthy of preservation, not just for their historical provenance and content, but for their sheer beauty.

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