Scrap your Scraps Pinterest Challenge (Things That Shine)

“Long time no posting” here at favouriteworkofart!

To borrow from The Beatles, “Little darlings, it’s been a long, cold and lonely winter”, but I see the signs of Spring all around, so that’s got to be good.

One of my scrapping heroes – Ashley Calder at Things That Shine – has posted a challenge via Scrap Your Scraps involving one of my favourite things (Pinterest!), so it felt like destiny was calling me to my scrapping cabin today to haul me out of my funk.

[I’m shouting out and waving frantically to Julie, Sian and Alexa – I’m doing more or less OK – leave me a comment so we can reconnect – please! I miss you all!]

So, the challenge is to pick an image you’ve pinned that inspires you and make a LO using that image as an inspiration.

Typical me, who finds inspiration everywhere in everything, I couldn’t decide on one image and was inspired by these three images**…

Photo Collage Maker_bd3B1y

To make this rather crazy busy LO…


My first LO in over two years. It felt GOOOOD to scrap again. Felt good to flex my creative muscles again to make a LO that, for me, is very heart felt.

I’m in the middle of a horrible, icky, nasty, life-sapping personal situation and currently don’t see my children at the weekends. I generally spend the whole weekend on the settee in ‘Woe is me’ mode, eating ice cream and all things bad, blubbering over black and white films and literally counting the hours until I can see and hear them again. I imagine having your still-beating heart pulled out of your chest (like the scene in Indiana Jones that always scared me stiff as a child) would be easier to deal with than the pain it causes me not to be able to see them, cuddle them, have them near.

Anyway, today I popped over to peruse Ashley’s blog, with Pinterest open in the background, and saw the challenge, just as the ‘She leaves a sparkle everywhere she goes’ image popped up in Pinterest. A lightning ‘desire to create’ moment struck me and I got to work, dusting off my supplies and producing said LO in a frenzy of ‘Ooh, sparkly stuff’ and ‘OMG, iridescent paper and glitter and glitter glue, yum’ and ‘Ooh, look, Panch (my daughter) has some sparkly foamy, hell yeah!’.

It worked wonders! I used my time constructively, creating something I love, thinking about them and gaining a big dose of self-healing in the process (they do leave a sparkle wherever they go, and instead of dwelling on not being with them, I should concentrate on healing myself whilst they’re away, so I’m stronger for them when we are together – part of which, I foresee, involves lots and lots and lots of scrapping!).

Thanks, Ashley, you helped me no end today and the ‘spark of clarity’ moment I gained from scrapping this today has helped me work through some very negative emotions.

Scrapping as therapy – now that’s an idea….

Thank you!

**Image credits: ‘She leaves a little sparkle wherever she goes’ here. ‘Life is good’ here. The painting is by the wonderful Kate Alizadeh.


Pick your precious: my magic box


I love reading all the stories that are posted from Sian’s Story Telling Sunday but especially love all the precious things that are being highlighted this year in her ‘Pick your precious’ series. It’s amazing to see the things people choose (many of which are handwritten or handmade items) and to hear all the stories connected to them. Thanks, as ever, Sian, for hosting this amazing series. Here’s my Pick your Precious.

I could carry in one small box all the things I’d rescue if there was a fire in our home – and all of them would be very personal things – letters, gifted books, drawings, postcards from special people, postcards purchased at key moments in my life, my children’s first shoes etc etc. Funny, then, that I pour over home decoration magazines and spend around 15% of my income on ‘stuff’ each month. I know this ‘stuff’ doesn’t matter but I seem incapable of living without it. It’s what makes our home our home, after all. But I do, often, stop and wonder what my children will cling to, what their soul would call for, if they were only allowed to keep a few things from our lives together.

I remember when my Dad died, suddenly, aged 45. After the initial shock wore off, I was literally struck dumb, immobile, for a few days, faced with the enormity of knowing that all of his knowledge, all of his insights, his stories, all the stories that were attached with his possessions (of which he had few) were all lost. Had all been lost with him. Never to be told, discussed or laughed along with again. That hit me hard and, to this day, I’m still – occasionally – paralyzed by a fear that stems from that time. That I won’t know why he insisted on keeping chalk, loose, in his pockets after his lectures or where he was planning on taking his half-finished book, or why he took so long to set up his own consultancy. A million unresolved questions, hundreds of conversation starters that will never reach a conclusion. It’s terrifying for me and is, I think, what fuels my obsession with documentation. I can’t bear the thought of my children not knowing all the things they might like to know about me, were I, heaven forbid, to die tomorrow.

When my Dad died, I only wanted to have one thing of his: his gardening jumper that he used to wear when we went to the allotment together. It was a favourite Sunday morning activity of mine – accompanying him to the allotment to help him. I often wonder what the last thing I think of will be before I die and I wonder if it might be one of my very clear memories from walking to the allotment with him. Skipping alongside him, pure childhood joy in the joltingly fresh spring air, blackbirds singing to us as we went on our merry way, birds eggs, Tiffany blue, laying innocently in the nest in the hedge, worms, brusquely and accidentally halved, trying to burrow themselves back down in to the clots of soil. I’d like it if that were the case. They are some of my happiest memories, after all.

The jumper he wore seemed to capture so much of him, for me, that it was the only thing I wanted, in order to be able to remember him more clearly. I saw it, touched it, smelled it and I could, again, remember all the essentials about him – his patience, his sense of humour, how he made me believe 1000% in my self and my capabilities. It screamed ‘Dad’ to me. All he was – and still is – to me. My rock. But I digress, as I’m not going to be able to keep the jumper in my box because I no longer have access to it or its comfort – it was lost ‘accidentally’ by my Mum in a cull of my childhood home a few years ago. Not remembering it meant the world to me, it was thrown out, deemed no longer necessary, no longer worthy of a place in the new life she is forging for herself. Tears were shed, are still shed, for it, but – ultimately – I have rationalised this to myself, that it was, after all, just a ‘thing’.

What, then, does make it in to my small box labelled ‘must be rescued in the event of a fire’? His half-finished book, written long-hand. It sits on my desk. A simultaneous reminder that we can all do great things with our ‘one wild and precious life’ and that life is too too short. He’s dead, the book is dead, but there it sits – used, often, as my mouse pad and flicked through when I’m in  need of some perspective and comfort. The book wills me on to ‘dare greatly’ and to just get on with it, especially in those moments when I simply don’t want to ‘get on with it’. He’s no longer here in a physical sense but his power is still with me, forcing me on to be a better me. The dream Helen.

Thanks, Dad: even in death you continue to teach me, to show me the way.

What else makes it in to the box? My Grandad’s letters – all two of them. He wasn’t a letter-writing man but wrote me two, in very quick succession, when I went down to the ‘Big Smoke’ as he used to call it, to start University. The small mining town girl making it big and heading off to where the streets are paved with gold, her Grandad, I imagine, worried sick thinking about all the horrible things that could befall me. If that wasn’t enough to make him put pen to paper, I don’t know what would have been! The first letter tells a story of him, recently married, being paid a visit by the police (a mix up, thankfully), the second contains a joke letter about how the Irish write letters (he was Irish, his parents having come to the town he lived in all his life to open a Catholic Church). Both of them transport me, immediately, to sitting with him at the dining table, him telling me stories, making me laugh with his very unique and infallible sense of humour. I take them out, often, just to touch them and read them, the words guaranteed to make me laugh hard just when I need a pick me up, laugh so hard, indeed, that the tears come, quickly replaced by ‘real tears’ (as my Gran would have said) when I remember his recent death.

Other things that would make it in to the box include my son and my daughter’s first shoes. Blue suede Fisher Prices and a pair of silver sandals, the blue suede scuffed at the toes and the silver leather worn from the only very few months of use. I touch them, I immediately remember the first moments they both walked, their smiling faces as they realised they could do it, they could move – fast – on their own. Their curly blonde hair, their innocent smiles, their hearts bursting with excitement they couldn’t contain and which transformed itself in to joyous laughter.

My bird spotting book, that we – me and Dad – used when we went bird spotting on weekend mornings. A complete record of our weekend mornings from 1983 to 1987, the place and the weather records at the top of each page immediately transporting me back to those mornings. Clumber Park, Cley, Blakeney, Rufford, I read the book, read the entries and I’m there, my nine year old self, thrilled to pieces because we’d spotted a crested thrush or a puffin. Marvelling at the puffin’s shiny striped beak, like he’s just been painted and buffed. I can trace my whole career path in those entries and experiences – from biologist to author. Don’t underestimate the power of indulging a child so they explore their interests, the entries tell me now, my Dad speaking to me, again, through the years.

Yet more things would make it in to my box. My Gran’s letters. She wrote me more than 5000 of them, one every day from the day I left for University to the day I graduated from my D.Phil., and then less frequently from that day until a week or so before she died. I don’t think I could fit all 5000 of them in my box – and they’re safely stored somewhere else anyway – but I have room for a few choice ones, ones that evoke her kindness and utter devotion to me, her beloved Granddaughter, and to her commitment that I’d ‘never be lonely’ because there’d always be a letter from Gran waiting for me. I think of what she did and I am always awe-struck by the enormity of it. She wrote to me every single day for 11 years! As my Dad used to joke, she’s the Allan Bennett of the Northern mining town where she lived. Her letters, covering politics, daily happenings in the house, the village, the county and the country, are a veritable treasure chest of information. It’s fascinating to read the ones I have with me – and read them I do, often – her voice is so strong, she comes alive to me, her warmth, her comfort, her little laugh and cheeky grin (exactly the same as my daughter’s). I read them and I’m 18 again, wide-eyed, having made it to UCL, I’m 21, recently graduated but frustrated because the grant didn’t come through for my D.Phil., I’m 22, Masters gained, a year filled, travelling to Oxford, grant finally in hand, scared to death as I walk past the Examination Halls, pinching myself that I am here, unbelieving, still, that’s its all happening and that I have the privilege of living in this great city for at least three years. I read her words and there’s not one that doesn’t fully support me or rejoice in me. She truly was an amazing women, the best Gran I could have wished for. My fairy Gran-mother.

So, my box. It’s my magic box. My time travelling machine. I touch, read or smell the items in there and I’m transported to my past, to what – and who – has made me what I am. I live without my immediate family – the perils of being an ex-pat – but I am, through the treasures in my magic box, supported by the people who have loved me and who I love. That love doesn’t know an end, doesn’t have an end. It’s eternal. It’s power is eternal. I’ll take my magic box filled with seemingly worthless things any day, over anything. You won’t find this kind of magic in even the most expensive shop-bought items.

Right now

Thanks, Ali E, for the prompt.

Right now my life is full of sadness.

Right now I’m trying to be strong in front of my children. It’s hard.

Right now my thoughts are dominated by ‘What ifs’. I know it isn’t helpful but I can’t stop myself.

Right now I’m trying to be kind to myself. It’s really hard.

Right now I’m sleeping even less than usual. The sound of the geckos on the walls, screeching, at 4 in the morning, is driving me bonkers. As are endless 4am Project Runway repeats and the vacuous Kim Kardashian. Insomniacs of the world should unite to ask for better quality 2-5am TV.

Right now all I want to do is run and run and run. I did 15km before breakfast and want to go again. It’s the only time I feel still. Feel the clarity that normally characterizes me.

Right now I wish I could turn back time.

Right now I think a lot about kindness, what it means, and what it’s impacts are. It’s such a simple thing, to be kind, to opt for kindness. It never ceases to amaze me that people can be unkind or that people fail to choose kindness.

Right now I’m in a mess. At a crossroads, emotionally, professionally. I’m an eternal optimist but this period in my life is worrying even me.

Right now I need Nature more than ever. Need to smell the trees, hear the river, feel the rain on my face.

Right now I need to feel alive, to feel all of life with all of my senses.

Right now I realize, more acutely than ever, what a gift life is.

Simply a moment

When I committed to joining in Alexa’s Simply a Moment idea, I didn’t realize I would be describing the beginning of what will, no doubt, be a very difficult period in my life, following the unexpected death of my Grandad early Saturday morning.

My minute. 17th September 2012, 7.45am.

The house is quiet. They’ve all gone about their business. It’s the first time I’ve had the house to myself since receiving the news. I sit, not knowing what to do, feeling the trembling in my soul. I have to keep standing up, to make sure there’s not an earthquake: fight or flight, I chastise myself, selfish even in my grief. I sit back down, it’s there again, a trembling, a shaking inside, disquiet written physical, shock literally vibrating through my body. Shock that he’s gone, that I won’t see him again, hear him again, won’t be able to marvel at his shocking white hair – always perfectly combed – won’t be able to hold his chubby fingers, laugh at his jokes or revel in his turns of phrase. I hear everyone going about their business and wonder how they do it. How can they eat? Wash pots? Laugh? Don’t they know he is dead? “Stop all the clocks”. Please, literally: stop them. Stop everything. It shouldn’t go on. How can it all go on? When will this shaking in my soul, in my core, stop? How will I get over this one? He was my anchor, my roots, my guiding light. My biggest fan. Source of my favourite childhood memories. My everything. I sit, shaking, trembling inside. See my hands shaking. Feel myself weakened. It’s all too much to take in. Too vast. A hummingbird sweeps across my line of view, then another. Emerald green flashes, high-pitched squeaks, alerting me to their presence. I just wish they’d stop fighting. There’s enough food for both of them. I jump up, shouting, “Get out of here. Go. Leave”. I can’t be doing with the squabbling today, even from something so beautiful. Not today. Not ever. His life, led with such wisdom: that is the example I will follow. That will be his legacy. I find strength in his example and realise that, even in death, he continues to teach me. Thank you. From that place, deep, very deep, that is shaking now.

What do you do…

What do you do in the immediate aftermath of losing someone?

Someone so dear to you, you feel a substantial piece of you has been torn out.

You succumb to the wash of images of them. You smile remembering his sense of humor. You scour photo archives, looking for tips, clues, anything, to help you remember all of him. You cry until you can’t any longer. You wander, without purpose, just to be moving, to try to get the fact out of your head. You are tempted by disbelief, awash with numbness, hoping you’ll open your eyes and it won’t be true.

But, of course, it is.

He is gone.

I love you, Grandad.

You were my everything.

On the first day of Primero….

Thanks Ali E for the idea.

I want to remember how, the night before, he chatted excitedly until way past his usual bedtime, asking about how they make bouncy balls, how they manage to show a film in the cine, how they get ships inside bottles and whether, if he threw a message in a bottle in the river in front of the house, it might reach England.

I want to remember how excited he was to wear his lace up shoes and how proud he was when he managed to tie them himself.

I want to remember how he ran to the shower to get ready and then ate his breakfast really quickly because he couldn’t wait to get to school. How he asked for boiled egg – ‘huevo redondo pero no planito’ – and mandarin juice and half a cheese croissant.

I want to remember that he said he’d use his napkin to wipe his hands on, not his school shirt, because ‘It’s the first day and I want to look smart’. I want to remember how, secretly, I think he looks so beautiful with crumbs all over his shirt.

I want to remember how he helped Panch get dried and dressed, talking to her all the while.

I want to remember how handsome and happy he looked, having his ‘First day of school’ photo taken. How his dimples appeared out of the blue a few months ago and how he laughs when I say they’ll be his ladykillers.

I want to remember how, on the way to school in the car, he asked why the Earth manages to float in space; how mountains are formed; where the first egg came from; why there are different types of music. How we laughed about people who know him as the boy ‘que anda enrumbao’.

I want to remember how, when he saw his favourite teacher Sidey, recently recovered from a heart operation, they both ran to each other, con un abrazo enorme, laughing, so so happy to see each other. I want to remember how I will be forever thankful for this teacher and all he did last year.

I want to remember how he changed his mind about five times, as to whether he wanted me to walk him to the classroom or not. In the end, he walked off, head of the line, with the teacher and all his classmates, and I followed, unnoticed, just in case he wanted to say goodbye and I wasn’t there. I watched him get all his things out of his bag and organize them all and then watched him while he laughed and joked with his friends, almost a full head shorter than most of them.

I want to remember how I cried a little in the car on the way back home: he’s growing up fast.

I want to remember how proud I am of him, in this moment, and what a truly amazing person he is.

Sian’s storytelling Sunday – nursery time for my littlest….

You’ve got to love Sian’s idea – Storytelling Sunday – and you’ve got to love all the stories that are told. Thanks, Sian – you’ve started something wonderful!

Here’s my, should I say, our story…..

Ever since we took her to the nursery to look around, at the end of June, we were greeted with the daily question, “When am I going to the nursery?”, mostly accompanied by this face…..

After seeing that face, those eyes, and hearing her daily pleas, we found it increasingly difficult to rationalize her starting in January, not September. She was more than ready.

I, her Mum, was not so ready, but after the daily questions continued even whilst we were on an extended holiday, it was decided that she would start in September. So, as soon as we were back, we went to get her uniform, her backpack, her boots, some new bracelets and necklaces, new sparkly sequin shoes – all essential nursery wear, of course…..

Then the day arrived – the first day of nursery – and there she was, at 5.40 in the morning, running in to the room, in fits of laughter, asking for her shower….

….and ten minutes later, fully dressed – raring to go – laden with bracelets, wearing her boots in 35 degree tropical heat, her two favourite toy dogs in their carry cases filling up both her hands, “…because Toby and Lucas want to see the nursery too, Mama”…..

We spent the morning with her at the nursery, watching her interact, seeing her laughing, running, playing with the dog, playing with plastiline, dancing with pom-poms: lapping it all up as only she does. She was perfectly fine, fitted in perfectly, just like she’d always been there, causing such pride to well up inside me that I found tears running down my cheeks more than a few times. Then this….

…on the way home in the car, fast asleep within five minutes of setting off.

She is still my baby, after all.

The first day I left her on her own, I cried. Had to sit in the car for a good few minutes before I could drive off. When I picked her up…..

…..she didn’t say a word, just held my hand tight for a few moments and then looked at me and said, “I had a nice time, Mama, thank you”, with the most radiant smile on her face.

It was one of those perfect moments when you know you’re doing something right and that all is well with the world.

Project Life week 15

A rushed set of PL spreads and a very rushed blog post for me, as I haven’t been feeling well for much of the week :(

The left hand side, including some Easter wrappers; photos of them being very close (had to be snapped as they’ve been at each others throats for a few weeks now!); orchids; Panch drawing; and a – thankfully fine – ECG, after hubby started to have chest pains (stress induced – he’s perfectly fine, with the “heart of an athlete” as the Dr told him, much to his enjoyment, LOL!!!):

Favourite close up of the week! Look at those dirty knees! And a favourite photo of mine – see the white spider on the orchid? It was perfectly, perfectly camouflaged. We were fascinated by it and watched it for an age!

The right hand side, with inserts about a shopping trip for felt; a trip to the club; tropical nights; some photos from a Saturday morning shopping trip; and a photo from a family trip to a local restaurant. I don’t like this page at all but I was in a rush to get this week finished and I love that its done and that the photos speak for themselves. I know from experience that PL albums take on a life of their own as the weeks go by: some are detailed, some I love, some I hate but the overall finished album will be a treasure even including spreads like this….

Insert 1 front…we were treated to the opening of a new museum at home this week – “The Coolest Museum” – containing all sorts of items deemed treasures by son-son, including an aged sheet with all sorts of hieroglyphics. This is why I love PL so much – had I not been doing PL, this amazing piece of art would have been shoved in the ‘to be scrapbooked’ pile and may never have seen the light of day….

Insert 1 back….some art from Panch. She spent an absolute age sticking all the red stickers on the paper, and was so patient even when they got stuck to her chubby little fingers! It also includes a hand written note from son-son and a typed note I found from him on a new Word document he’d opened on my computer. Hubby wasn’t too pleased with its content but I love it!!!

Insert 2 front….more sticker art from Panch:

Insert 2 back….yet more PRECIOUS sticker art….

Insert 3, a completed maths workbook sent from school. Again, I love PL so much – our albums end up containing all sorts of really valuable information…

Thanks for looking – am linking up to The Mom Creative  this week again……can’t wait to see what all the lovely ladies there have produced this week! There’s always so much inspiration to be had!

Project Life week 14

14 glorious weeks of the year have passed already. Wow!

Here’s my week 14. The left hand side, containing inserts about our trip up in to the mountains; an insert about our visit to see The Lorax; a photo of them doing collage; some artwork from son-son; a photo from a trip to a friends; and a photo of some model flowers made for a charity/business I’m setting up with some local unemployed single mothers (making and selling hair accessories to chain stores):

A close-up of the artwork:

The right hand side, containing a photo of the view from the tennis court where son-son practices; an anteater son-son cut our for me; photos from a birthday party we attended; photos of them relaxing; cake making; and photos from a night walk we did on Saturday:

A close-up of the anteater, which I love:

Two inserts this week. The first with some photos from our April 1st trip up the mountain:

and some larger ones on the back:

The next insert has some art work and a story about how Panch (our daughter) painted on all the walls of our apartment!!…

and more art work:

Thanks so much for looking. As ever, I am constantly inspired by all the beautiful projects the ladies at The Mom Creative produce. Thanks so much for sharing ladies!

Shimelle’s starting point

I’ve never been able to scrap from sketches, just couldn’t get my head around it, but I’ve started to love Shimelle’s starting points.

This week’s looks like this:

and here’s the LO I produced from it:

It’s a really simple LO for me. I replaced the PP strip with a large photo and replaced the cluster of PP scraps in the top right hand corner with a bow and voila! a favourite photo scrapped!

Thanks for looking!