29 November 2012

Around here -November edition

Oh November. I love you and hate you in turn. The beautiful Autumn colours have given way to bear trees and soggy leaves. On the plus side, the weather has that lovely cold bite in it and we are nearly at christmas my friends! 

November was another super busy month when it hit me that I was at uni to get a degree and not just socialise. Bit of a shock that!  Looking back on these pictures a lot seems to have been crammed into this month but I like a lot. A lot is good and before I know it I will be home for the holidays! 

From top: Bonfire night! Stunning fireworks and I played around with my camera for most of the evening. I have got into knitting again as the cold weather has seeped in. We had our ball the second week of November, it was Narnia themed so everywhere was covered in glitter- magical! Work. A picture I shot from the hip (literally) when on a walk in Scotland. I like how it turned out to be honest. Playing around with some self portraits, aka procrastination. 

What has your month looked like? 

For clarification, around here photos are images I collect together towards the end of the month. The stray images, the orphaned ones. Those left on the end of a memory card or taken for a blog post yet not quite made it on. They sum up my month better than any words can! 

28 November 2012

Thinking out loud

Today I am thinking out loud....

It is wet here. Like hasn't stopped raining for over a day. The river is flooded and burst its banks and we have to walk the long way round to get to lectures. On the plus side I don't feel silly wearing my wellies around town. Swings and roundabouts friends!

I am very excited for the beginnings of advent. I feel like these last weeks are going to fly by in great dollops so before we know it it will be the holidays! There is so much to fit in and that in turn is exciting and also scary.

I am busy scouring pinterest for some table decorations. It is my tradition each year at Christmas to make something for each place on Christmas day. If anyone has any bright ideas do wing them my way!

I am sad that I haven't made anything recently. My hands are twitching towards my sewing machine but I am trying to resist at least until the essays are over.

I am looking forward to all the Christmas events in Durham. I think it is living this close to the cathedral but the prospect of carols and candles is making me so happy. I need to crack on with a bit of christmas shopping though and get writing those christmas cards.

I am thankful for kind blog friends who understand my busy-ness and still stop by my blog to say hello. Thank you. I read every comment and every one of them makes me smile. Incidentally I can't wait to meet some of you in person at the bloggers retreat!

So, life around here is exciting and busy and full of anticipation. What is going on in your world?

26 November 2012

A weekend on the Scottish Boarder

I have never been to Scotland. This weekend I went to the boarders which aren't too far away from Durham. Man, this place is beautiful. Achingly beautiful in a rugged, slightly bleak and cold way. I am used to the rolling green hills of the south. This was a different experience all together.

It was wonderful to get away for a weekend.
To stand on top of the hill with rosy cheeks and numb fingers.
No phone signal, no internet.
Spending time with friends and worshiping God with the Christian Union.
I needed this retreat.

Needed to enjoy this wonderful place in the stillness before being thrown back into that amazing and chaotic run up to Christmas.

P.S I am sorry for a lack of blog commenting at the moment. The essays are piling up. I am still reading your blogs and loving every minute of it. Thank you for still stopping by mine! 

24 November 2012

A fake chalkboard

Experimenting with fake chalkboards on photoshop this week. Here is a little free something I made. Brilliant book and an amazing quote.

Go read!

Have a lovely weekend!

23 November 2012

Creative failures

There are times when I just can't get a project to work. In my head I have conceptualised it really well but in reality it just doesn't come together.

This scarf was such a project. I knew I wanted blue and white. I knew I wanted it chunky, I knew I wanted an infinity/cowl scarf. But how?

I started off with alternating rows of colours. Didn't like it. I undid the three rows. I then set out doing alternating stitches, one stitch blue, one stitch white. Again I wasn't loving it and with knitting I think that loving it is a real motivator. So again I sat and unwound several rows of knitting.

I went back to something I knew that worked. Casting on as many stitches as I possibly could and then knitting two rows blue, two rows white for about 20 rows.

Finally I had something I was happy with. And you know what, I have had more compliments on my scarf around campus than anything else.

Those creative failures. It's swings and roundabouts friends!

My challenge for you today, try and rework something you regard as a creative failure. I'd love to hear your results!

22 November 2012

Life right now- according to Instagram

This is life right now according to instagram...

Top row left to right: trying out a few self portraits with instagram. The Cath Kidston tour van came to Durham and I was lucky enough to get a free bag! Krispy Creme opened so we treated ourselves to doughnuts after lectures.

Middle row: The christmas decorations started to appear. We had a day trip for some shopping in Newcastle. I have typically drunk a lot of tea.

Bottom Row: It was beautiful celebrating remembrance day at the Cathedral. Welcoming in November. I feel like I have spent a bit of time this month at the train station, saying hello to the little brother who came and visited and going off to see the boy.

Top row: Having lots of coffee dates with friends. Loving those beautiful Autumn skies in this wonderful place. Isn't this sign cute in the coffee shop?

Middle row: Leaves over the river. I have started to try and take photos of things I am thankful for this month such as these toiletries for just £3.50. Voting for our local PCC.

Bottom row: Spending a weekend with this boy and enjoying tea together in John Lewis after an afternoon shopping. Walking with him in the Autumn leaves. I am so proud to be a part of this uni.

As I always say, I am in love with instagram. When I have little time it is so easy to pick up the phone and grab a quick snapshot of something I would have missed. I am really enjoying taking photos for the  thirty days of thanksgiving too! Another busy month but such a good one.

As usual if you wish to follow me my username is abibeach. I am private but I love accepting blog friends!

20 November 2012

DIY Christmas Graphic Part 2


Yesterday I shared a fairly simple tutorial on how to make a christmas graphic. We are going a step forward my friends with this:

Again this tutorial is based around Photoshop Elements. 

1. Either create a new text page by selecting a new canvas and adding your words or grab one you have already made.

2. Find your photo. I again used the same one. This time you will need a photo which is slightly darker. The one at the bottom of the post was the best I tried out.

3. Go back to your text page and make sure you have flattened the layers by clicking LAYER then FLATTEN IMMAGE. You now want to change the colours around to a black background and white text. This is so easy and such a neat little trick. Go to the top tool bar and click FILTER, ADJUSTMENTS, INVERT. And as if by magic the colours swap!

4. Using the select tool drag the text layer on top of the photo. You will want the text layer to cover most of the photo.

5. Now look on the right hand side of the screen. See the layers box? Now see next to each layer there is a little eye? Click on the eye next to the photo layer. The photo layer will disappear but don't panic it is just hidden and you can get it back by clicking the eye again. Click back on the text layer.

6. Now click on the eraser tool and choose a nice big eraser that it pretty blurry. You are going to carefully rub away the black bits around the letters. DO NOT rub out the text. It doesn't need to be neat. Mine looked like this!

7. Click on that little eye by the photo layer again to bring it back into view. Now click on the text layer and find that drop down menu at the top of the box. Scroll down and find SOFT LIGHT. As if by magic you have this:

Once you get the hang of it the effects are really easy and you can play with that drop down menu in the layers box and get some really cool effects.

Feel free to use the sparkles photo below!


19 November 2012

DIY Christmas graphics Part 1

Now I am not really a fan of Jack Wills but I am a fan of their typography and graphic design.
Ever since doing photography A level I have loved messing around on photoshop and when I saw these ads they looked too good to pass up a chance of imitation!

The tutorial is for photoshop elements which you can download free for 30 days if you don't already have it! I am not on commission I hasten to add;  I just like the program!

The first graphic is this:

Pretty straightforward and easy.

1. Open a blank canvas CtrlN and set it to A4. Add your text how you wish. I kept mine simple with Times New Roman in different sizes. Play around with the text till you are happy. This next step is important. Click LAYER then FLATTEN image.

2. Open your photo. I chose one of a blurred firework. You are looking for a photo with colour rather than a photo with detail.

3. Rotate your photo if necessary and crop it if you want. I cropped mine to 4 x 6 so I could zoom in on the sparkles!

4. Here comes the magic! Using the select tool drag your text layer on top of the photo. You can see on the right side of the screen two layers have now come up. Resize your text layer so it has a nice border around each side.

5. On the layers tab on the right hand side click on the text layer. Look to the top of the layers box and there will be a drop down menu. At the moment it will say "normal". Click on this and choose "screen"

6. Voila! The pretty photo shows through the letters! Again click LAYER and then FLATTEN image to create the final design.

Have fun creating your own Christmas graphics. Feel free to use the sparkle photo below!

Tomorrow I will take this a step further with a DIY to create this...

Exciting I know!

This DIY is part of my plan to create 20 tutorials in my 20th year. More info here

16 November 2012

Frosty Festivities Blog Hop


Today I am joining in with the lovely Jennifer on her "Frosty Festivities" blog hop. There are posts from each of us on the theme of winter and some lovely goodies to be won as well as lots of great wintery posts from Jennifer herself. So grab your mittens and a hot mug of tea and enjoy....

Winter drew in early in our house. From around October half term it seemed to creep into the pattern of the days. In that glorious week off school we would get the supplies ready. Raisins and currents and oranges and that sticky bottle of brandy.

One day would be set aside. When the kitchen hummed with the promise of winter and the smells of christmas. Together we would push the apple through the mincer, adding the dried fruit and mushing it together with the alcohol. We would take it in turns to wrap our hands around the big brown ceramic bowl and give the mincemeat a stir and a wish.

From that moment the waiting began. The peeps in the cupboard to look for unfamiliar dark packages, the christmas cake snuggly wrapped in greased paper, waiting to be iced. Waiting, watching.

Then the clocks changed and we giggled to ourselves as we fell asleep that night. That this was "the good one" and we would get an extra hour in bed.

The days grew shorter and colder. Winter was moving swiftly in. Stripping the trees bare. Replacing them with glittering frost.

We would get in from school and the darkness would start to draw in. We would race around the house together trying to shut all the curtains before tea. Then the cozy evenings took over. Snuggled up by the spitting fire or around a board game.

Winter was always tinged with expectancy. The thrill of the morning light as I woke wondering...will it have snowed? The ring of the doorbell and the curious packages whisked out of sight. The christmas decorations pulled down from the cold loft.

Each day we would set out for school with another layer on. Another scarf dangling around our knees, mittens tied to elastic through the sleeves of our coats. On the weekends when the weather was fine we would go for walks as a family, thick socks stuffed into wellies. We would arrive home with red noses and rosy cheeks and huddle around the kitchen table, mugs of hot chocolate in our numb fingers.

Winter came early in our house and you know what, not a lot has changed!

Now to celebrate the coming of Winter, Jennifer is giving away £25 worth of scrapbooking goodies!

How to win you may ask? Simple. Carry on hopping around each blog and leave a comment on each. You should finish at Jennifer's blog. To win just let her know that you have hopped and commented your way around. All entries must be received by Monday 19th November 10.59 GMT.

So onwards friends through the snow to the lovely Daphne

30 Days templates


So a few of you were asking about the templates I use for my 30 days of thanksgiving layouts. These are three simple designs I rustled up on photoshop.

I edit them through photoshop by adding a picture, text box to one side of the photo and then the date. If you haven't got photoshop, a free editing program like pic monkey would work just fine!

They are designed to fit a square instagram but would work with a 6 x 4 too! You could even print them out and make a hybrid scrapbook page! Just click on the photo and save to your computer.

Phew, endless possibilities friends!


Chevron pattern from here

13 November 2012

30 days of Thanksgiving


I have seen the 30 days of thanksgiving floating around the web and instagram for the last few weeks and thought it was a really lovely idea. Over here in good old England we don't celebrate thanksgiving but giving thanks is always a good thing I think.

For those who don't know I have seen this little meme in several different ways, firstly as a form of journalling like a scrapbook page and secondly as a hashtag on instagram. The basis is really fairly obvious: journal, record, photograph what you are thankful for for thirty days. 

Now, I was pretty slow to jump on the bandwagon so I have recorded the things I was thankful for in the first few days of November but I am missing some from last week. 

I wanted my "things" to be everyday thanksgivings so I therefore turned to my favourite...instagram.
I felt the pictures needed something more though so I whipped up a few templates for the photos and some added journalling. 

I think a blurb book of these at the end of the month would be great! 

Such a great idea and such a reminder to me that rather than focus on what has gone wrong, in all things we should give thanks. 
Are you doing anything for Thanksgiving? 

I have made blank templates of each design if you are interested in using them. If so please say in the comments and I can put them on here!