Juggling life through a bi-polar lens. Sometimes up, sometimes down. Mostly trying to tread water in the middle. Creating a likeness to a normal life. Whatever "normal" is...

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

ATCs for May 2013

Thank you, Diane, for the tip! I changed to the Google Chrome browser et voila! Pictures! :)

So here are the ATCs I swapped with Miss Peach's mum this month...

This is "Through The Keyhole"
who's looking through the keyhole at you?
This is the inside!
It was a cat! (of course!)

Next this one is "Buttoned Up".
In the foreground in the internet image of a boot.
In the background is how I changed it.
Here's a close-up.
The make the buttons 3D I applied a
Sakura clear glaze pen over and over to build it up.
Lots of stamps and glitter :)

This one is "Blowing In The Wind":

This next one was an open themed one, 
we just had to use glossy card.
So I used a Beatrix Potter decoupage :)

This next one had to refer to Walter de la Mare.
It's a triple fold.
Here's the front:

Opened out,
a poem
(featuring a cat!)

The other side:

Lastly, the theme "April" was set.
This one is called "April Showers".
Underneath the vellum:
UK peeps might recognise the picture as
being from the packaging of
"Yorkshire Tea" :)

Hope you enjoyed looking at them. I've been enjoying the challenge of having a theme and then having to think something up for it!

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Love, tea & cake,

Blogger problems

Currently, Blogger won't upload any photo's on this blog, or my others. I've no idea why. I've tried everything suggested in their 'help' section. 

I've posted my latest journal pages and ATCs on my Facebook page, so if you're on facebook, please have a look; 'friend' me if you haven't already :)

Blogger has been doing this for weeks.

If any of you have any advice, please let me know!!!


Wednesday, 24 April 2013


I took some photo's of some of the stuff I've been doodling and scribbling in my 'journal'. It IS making me feel a little better, or well, not *better*, as such, maybe a little more in control. I feel something welling up, I reach for the pen and crayons. -Rather than it going around in my head and building up. Hard to explain. But getting it out on paper is a nice thing, even when what's written isn't nice.

Well here's some of it...

(-the ACEO is by Marita Stevenson, Germany, via Ebay)

(-rainbow cat image from internet)

 Bird inspired by "Art Journal Freedom" by Dina Wakley

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Love, tea & cake,  

Friday, 19 April 2013

Sketching, and the mysterious Long Tails

It's difficult for me to fill a sketchbook or notebook, and yet I LOVE good quality, unusual stationery. This means I have a few notebooks (mostly little ones) knocking around, barely touched. I know of at least two fellow bloggy friends who have the same weakness :)

Sometimes it is an inexpensive little thing to get in the name of retail therapy. I had a go at making a few notebooks myself a few years ago. Bob T Bear has filled one of these with the addresses of his blog friends. He uses it for his Xmas card list. An 8inch Bear is therefore better than me at filling notebooks.

I mention it today because this week I have picked up a lovely Moleskin sketchbook that I bought last February when I began (but failed to finish- again! There, see?!) an online portrait course. Unsurprisingly it had only about 8 pages used in it. One thing I had recorded was Scooter's passing. I stuck in a small embroidered piece of aida next to that page. It has "love" written on it, with the "L" as a decorated, illuminated letter. I left the book in the shelf after that.

I'm using it again now. A few sketches, thoughts. And when I've been tearful and upset I've written how I feel, and written TO Scooter too.

It is already quite nice to look back over pages, even the sad ones. So I hope I can keep it up. Well, I suppose I shall keep it up for as long as I need it, and that maybe that's why these books end up unfilled.

Am I the only one that has books with 90% unused pages in them??!!!

I've dug out a couple of books for inspiration too. One is filled with 1000 photo's of journal pages. The other is about wet-on-wet watercolour. I'd like to paint some Long-Tailed-Tits, a beautiful, cute faced little bird that I associate with Scooter. At big milestones in his illness, that last summer, they came to our garden and settled in the tree above him.

Just 5 days before he passed, I was walking back from the shop with some treats for him. It had not entered my mind that I was so close to losing him. As I walked I cut through a little tree-lined alleyway, and suddenly heard the song of the Long Tails. It was a treat, at first, to see them again. I stopped to watch them, smiling. It was lovely. As I walked on a feeling of panic and dread came over me, so slowly. By the time I was home I had already formed the thought that they had returned to warn me, ME- as it was not in the garden with Scooter this time - that his time was coming.

Some weeks later, Luvbug and I were talking about a strange incident with the Long Tails, when they had gathered with their young in the tree over where Scooter lay sleeping, recovering from a seizure. I was kneeling next to him, with a shawl over him to keep him warm. I thought I was losing him then and there. I looked up at the birds in a low branch over us. "Look, Scooter!" I whispered, "Look; little angels have come, to see if you're ok..."

This was the first strange occurrence with them, and the eve of a very bad day of seizures for Scooter. It was during the following week that I figured out it was low blood sugar that caused the seizures, and got the vet to confirm it with a blood test. From then on, we fed him little and often, -every few hours, even through the night- and I added honey to his water. He enjoyed the summer, staying quite strong for another 6 or 7 weeks....

Anyway, when we were remembering this, we said, "But why Long Tailed Tits?" and it suddenly hit me- Why, because he has such a long tail too! Even vets had commented on it. "Is this tail ever coming to an end?" one said, as he came out of his box.

So anyway..... journalling to get things out, and maybe a colour wash with the Long Tails.... hope so.

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Love, tea & cake, Helena

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Don't want the spring, or the summer any more...

Spring usually makes me feel better: sunshine, brighter evenings. Today I saw my first bee and butterfly of the year. The garden was inviting, but I couldn't go out, couldn't bear to see the bench without my little friend sunbathing there. Don't know how to get through the sunny days now. I mowed the front lawn but feel like the back garden can go to hell now.

Some days are ok, others I can't stop crying.

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Love, tea & cake,  

Friday, 12 April 2013

These are the ATCs I made for this month's swap:

THEME: Rupert Brooke (WW1 poet)

The colouring on all my ATCs is with ProMarkers.
The moon in this one is done with Gilding Flakes.
The poppies are die cut.
I love the way this one turned out.

THEME: Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat, Where Have You Been?
The cat & bird are actually details from a Christmas stamp- it also has the word 'Peace' on it and the bird carries an olive branch. I snipped these details off and stitched in some whiskers. The words.... yes, that's what I'd say when Scooby caught mousies :)
THEME: India
 I wanted a peacock for 'India' to show the colours and patterns associated with that country. I tried to suggest the heat with the low sun and the orange sky. It doesn't all come out in the photo, but there are glittery details and the blue is actually a deep purple. I drew the background but the peacock is a digistamp from Digi Darla Designs
THEME: Grandmother's Attic
 I knew I wanted to do a rocking horse for this one but couldn't find an image of one that was just right. Then at the Craft Fair I picked up a postcard from the Guild of British Toymakers' stall- with a rocking horse on the front! This is a detail cut from the postcard. (This rocking horse is the one that featured in the opening scene of The Woman In Black! They restored it and lent it to the film makers.)
The die cut swirl added to his mane is one that I found on the floor at the fair! I dabbed it with brown and gold paint. I stitched all round the card and, to suggest age, I added thick crackle-glaze and beads in one corner. THIS ONE IS MY FAVOURITE!!!
THEME: Mothers
 Another one that's hard to photograph, because it's covered with a self-adhesive glitter film.

THEME: What's Your Fear?
It says "the tops of tomatoes look suspiciously like spiders". I am so scared of spiders. Sometimes, if I am cooking with tomatoes, I'll take off that dried leafy thing from the top and put it down somewhere... then, a few minutes later, I see it out of the corner of my eye and think "EEEK! SPIDER!" ooops..... I drew the tom's and added leaves round the edges- I have never liked this leaf stamp as I think it looks like spider legs. I never thought it would ever come in useful...

Hope you enjoyed looking at my ATCs for this month.
The themes for next month are- Blowing In The Wind, April, Walter de la Mare, Through The Keyhole, Buttoned Up, and a Free Theme on glossy cardstock. I also need to alter 3 bottle caps! Should keep me out of mischief.

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Love, tea & cake,  

Monday, 8 April 2013

Craft Show Pic's

On Friday I went to the Creative Stitches & Hobby Craft Show at Excel, in London.

I didn't know very much in advance that I'd be going - there was an ad on TV for it and Luvbug piped up, "Would you like to go to that?" well I nearly fell off my chair, what a nice surprise!

I explained that you had to pay for a ticket, and also that I didn't think there would be a Man Creche :) but I booked a ticket online and planned to go Thursday. Luvbug said he'd go shopping at Stratford, or make his way to Covent Garden...

After a bit of a panic, during which we thought I was having a dangerously bad allergic reaction to my new meds, it was put off till Friday. After seeing the dr, we set out Friday morning, me dosed up on steroids and anti-histamines and almost asleep by the time we got there! My face and neck were red and itchy, painful and tingly, and I'm sure people must have thought I had been burned. I suppose it may be testament to how the meds are helping me mentally though, that I didn't feel too self-conscious or afraid of the crowds to go.

I didn't think the show was that big when I first got there- I'd never been to one of these shows before- but it turned out to be the perfect size, not too big or small. I was in there over three hours and nearly wore my feet off!

I only had my little phone so the photo's aren't great but will give you an idea...

Bears were there, of course!! These were hanging out on the stall of the Guild Of British Toymakers. 

This was at the end of an enormous display by knitters. It was a maritime theme and this is the head of the Loch Ness Monster!! (where there are bears, there are always dragons...)

A giant Decoupatch Cat!!!! Look at the size of him compared to the woman nearby! I should have returned to this stall to see how much their papers were, but never got back to it :( It was a popular, and very crowded one.

Giant Decoupatch Bear with Decoupatch Dinosaur behind!!! This was their main display, with a rep who was Decoupatching a fridge. Yes, I said fridge.

A display of panels by members of a stitching club...

...this is a close-up of one of my favourites in the display. The maker had printed a picture of a pier and wreck onto a cotton panel, then printed photo's of the seagulls onto chiffon, and sewn them on top. The effect was like seeing reflections of a scene in a window.

Bird panels from the same display.

Embroidered postcards from around the world. Each column is a different country.

This isn't a painting, it's all 3D stitching. I couldn't afford any of her work so I picked up some postcards instead. The artist's name was Gilda Baron.

From a quilt display- sorry it's blurred!

Large Owl and Hedgehog handbags!

Lastly, here is my haul!-

I then took the DLR to Stratford and met up again with Luvbug. We went looking at clothes for a while and I managed to to get some new jeans at last that weren't made for a giant (M&S £12.50!!). We then both admitted that our feet were killing us and, after nabbing snacks to eat on the way, made it back to the car.

We popped in on mum for a couple of hours on the way home, then I made chicken curry. We both fell asleep on sofas, worn out. LOL!

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Love, tea & cake,  

Monday, 1 April 2013


Found this this evening...


Look not where I was 
For I am not there 
 My spirit is free 
I am everywhere

In the air that you breathe 
In the sounds that you hear 
Don't cry for me Mom 
My spirit is near 

I'll watch for you 
From the other side
I'll be the one running 
New friends by my side 

Smile at my memory 
Remember in your heart 
This isn't the end 
It's a brand new start 

By: Carol Kufner 
 © Copyright Carol Kufner.

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Love and miss him so much...... crying lots tonight.

Love, tea & cake,  

Monday, 25 March 2013

The Magnificant Seven

I will double check, but I made it 23 candles in 5 countries lit for Scooter! THANK YOU ALL! We are going to round it up to £75 £100(!) for Colchester Cat Rescue.

Now, here are the promised biographies of the cats I've been lucky enough to share my life with:
 1983- 2000, Katie-cat, from Cats Protection sanctuary, age 18 months and tiny. They had rescued her from a bunch of schoolboys who'd been 'using her as a football'.
I can't seem to find a photo of Katie when she was very young. I think my Mum has them in an album :)
Katie could sleep in any place, in any position.

 We moved house and Dad got us a cat. No more dogs, he said, as losing them was too painful. If only he knew! Did he really imagine cats were easier to let go? He doesn't believe that now, he has had several over the years since... Katie-cat passed in April 2000, age around 18 1/2.
She was an excellent mouser and once took on a rat that was over half as big as herself! She was tolerant and welcoming, letting a neighbour's cat walk right in with her kittens in tow, when the neighbour neglected to feed them.
 Here's me, taking wee Katie to the vet for the final time. For the last few years there was no need for a cat-carrier, she was so trusting.

1991 - 1996, Sam, a stray who came to live with me in my first 'own' home. Little by little -at first he was too nervous to come into the house so I left food on the doorstep. Then he'd come in to eat, but only if I hid. Eventually he became so affectionate, so special. He would lie belly-up with his head on my pillow. He loved to snuggle up.
 Sam, my tabby prince...

Helping with the decorating in 1993

Loving the sunshine in the garden...

Cuddles with Mummy

A beautiful mackerel-tabby. My first real introduction to being a cat mama. He taught me lots. He passed in 1996, age about 8. Someone shot him with an air rifle. 
1993 - Mama Cat and kits-
Mama-cat, the most elegant black cat you ever could imagine. Have you seen The Aristocats? Do you remember the white cat, Duchess? Well Mama was a black version. You would believe she was a ballerina, she was so dainty, graceful and poised. HUGE golden eyes. She would sit up on the table near the kitchen door each morning and wait for me to give her a forehead-to-forehead rub, which, as all cat people will know, is really special.
She came calling at my back door in early 1993, in thick snow. She was obviously pregnant so I had to help her. I invited her in slowly, watching to see that Sam didn't mind. Gradually she settled, and gave birth in my linen cupboard to 4 beautiful kits.  At first I thought I should re-home them, so once they were a few months old I tried to find new owners. But I didn't trust any of the people who came to see them, and chose instead to keep them all.

Mama passed in 2003, from an inoperable cancer in her mouth. We were so sad, and her kits missed her terribly.

FIGS- March 23rd 1993- June 25th 2005 (I originally called this kitty Figaro, but then I discovered he was a she, hence 'Figs'!)
A black and white girl, SUCH soft fur. We now use the memory of that fur as a measure of softness. We touch something in a shop like a soft bath robe or cushion and we say, "Look! Feel! It's Figgy's belly!" 

Figs & Mama, grooming.
Their GOLDEN eyes didn't come out on film very often!
 When she was 3, Figs was shot with an air rifle and went blind in her right eye. It never held her back.
Figs climbing the curtain
Going worra-worra-worra with a catnip mousie
Look at that bellah!

VERY affectionate and silly and funny. She would lie belly up and let me blow raspberries on her tummy!
I had to say farewell to sweet Figgy in 2005, because of cancer.

WELLINGTON - March 23rd 1993 - ?
A black boy, Scooter's twin, EXCEPT he had much, much shorter hair, He was more 'snouty' and had an Oriental sounding meow. 

He could really talk to you, he sort of chortled. So full of character. But he kept going missing for days, weeks at a time. One time when he didn't come back I called all the vets. The PDSA had treated a cat of his description for a displaced hip, due to a road accident (5 or 6 miles from home). 
I contacted the man that had found him and had got him treated. He said that as Welly hadn't been claimed he'd been happy to take him home. 
Welly seemed happy when I went to visit but purred and purred and purred when I held him, so I tried to bring him home, but he wouldn't settle. So the man, Andy Bathgate I recall was his name, came to collect him and adopt him.
He went to live with him and his golden Labrador where Welly soon claimed the dog's bed and ruled the roost.
I missed him terribly, but I think he just wanted to be in a one-cat household. I often wonder waht happened to Scooby's brother, and hope he did ok...

Wellington(top) and Mama

FLUFFY -March 23rd 1993- December 13th 2010
When I looked in on Mama in the linen cupboard that morning, to check she was ok, I counted her babies... 1...2....3...oh, what a clever girl you are, I said. 3 babies! And there were indeed 3 kitties at her tummy. But Mama moved slightly and lifted herself up, and a little bundle of thin grey fur rolled out from under her chest and chin. This was Fluffy. Though it took a month before she was fluffy. At first, she was called Midge, as she was tiny and had only very fine hair. Mama had been keeping her tucked up warm.

 A few weeks old, at the bottom of the linen cupboard...little pairs of navy-blue eyes look up at me...
 I still have the rosette Fluffy won for PDSA 1993 "Cutest Kitten" photo competition
 Completely zonked on catnip
She would find the most beautiful poses.
Fluffy passed away from renal failure a couple of months before her 18th birthday. She was playful, mischievous and loving. Though she looked like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth, she was the only one of my cats that could actually growl!!!! - and did so at Scooter whenever he tried to get her off a chair or move from the fire. They would 'box' up on their hind legs like March hares but only really 'hit' the air in between them!

SCOOTER- March 23rd 1993 - September 17th 2011
My Best Boy.
I know others mean well when they tell me to take in another cat. I have given it some thought. But my heart is still brimming with love for this boy. I am crying as I type! It isn't time to move on yet, as there are still so many things I have to tell him. So many things to say to him. I cannot put that away on a shelf yet. (I can't even put his bed away, or his cushion from the windowsill). It's like there is unfinished business. I need to stay close to him. Maybe in the future I might be able to give a home to an elderly cat in need. I don't think I'd like a youngster again, not after the wisdom I knew behind Scooter's eyes.

Scooter & Wellington being 'bookends' -looking out of the gap of an old sash window in my old house.
 Sometimes we'd put the chairs up on the old table when we hoovered. They then had to stay there for hours because the cats thought it was a great place to climb and chill out... Scooter took up two chairs of course!
Um... yeah, drinking out of the kitchen sink!!
Best Boy, he of the secret smile....

 I miss that soft velvet bellah

I hope my kitties felt loved and safe. I know I made mistakes, it was a learning curve. I was a better cat-carer in the later years. I had to learn, listen, watch, read... but I grew into someone who would do anything for them. They loved me all along, they just waited for me to catch up. That's how it is with animals, I now think. They love unconditionally once they decide they can trust you. And you love them as much as you think you're able, but then you grow and learn, and maybe, with their example, you love them as much back as they love you. Not all pet owners take the time to do it. Not all think about it.

There's a story doing the rounds on Facebook. It's about the reaction of a 6 year old boy when his precious dog is put to sleep. The vet has not yet left, and the adults are all chatting, asking why it is that dogs have to have lives so much shorter than ours. 
The little boy pipes up, "I know."
They stop talking and look at him. "Why is it then? What do you think?"
And the boy tells them- 
"Because we have to learn to be kind and loving but dogs know that already, they don't have to learn it, so they don't have to stay as long."

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Love, tea & cake,