28 February 2013

Let's sit and have a cup of tea...


It's so good to see you. Let's stop and have a cup of tea and chat.

If you were with me now I would meet you in the centre of Durham. The Sun is wonderfully bright and the world is crisp and frosty and  clear. We would comment on the weather (if you are british and so inclined that way) and then I would take your arm and lead you off to one of my favourite coffee shops. 

Down the alley and up the stairs I would take you, to a secret spot and my little slice of perfect. We would choose our teas -assam for me, and a good gooey slice of cake to share (I am a student we must remember). 

We would make our ourselves comfortable on the soft sofas and as your poured the first cup this is what I would probably tell you...

I would tell you that I have so much work it is silly, that trying to write six essays that all count towards my first year mark is getting me down a bit. I would smile though and remind you and myself that I am trying to maintain perspective. The essays will come and go and the world will keep on turning. I would tell you that my favourite place to work is still the cathedral library. It is so peaceful in there. Before I work I go and sit in the nave for a few minutes. Just being still. Thinking and praying about what needs to be done. 

I would then laugh as you told me how uni days would fly and to enjoy them while they lasted. I would  tell you that I have such wonderful friends at uni. Friends who are so similar to me, who don't mind spending hours watching friends with a big mug of tea cuddled up on a bed. Friends who bless me so much and talk sense to me when I am feeling stressed. I would enquire about your uni friends and ask if you are still in contact with them?

I would tell you that I am so bored of cold weather. That the jumpers have had their day. I would tell you that yesterday the sun shone and my mood totally shifted. I worked with my lovely sash window open and got a taste of what it will be like this summer. 

As we poured the second cup and you tucked into the cake I would tell you excitedly about the music I am doing at the moment. About the college choir I have joined and Faure's requiem which we will be singing in two weeks. I would tell you that I have picked up my flute again and joined an orchestra. We are playing film music and I have fallen in love again with the Lord of the Rings soundtrack! I would ask you if you played and instrument and if you still do? I would tell you that part of the joy of orchestra is playing with an old school friend who used to sit next to me in school bands for years. 

Time would move on as we shared life, as we laughed, as the cake became crumbs and the tea got down to the last dregs. I would talk about crafting. I would lament not being able to go on the bloggers weekend due to expensive trains but would smile at the thought of my family coming to visit soon. I would ask what projects you are working on and what layouts you had recently made. I would tell you that I am itching to make another quilt, this time with equilateral triangles! I would giggle that I really don't need more quilts.

We would end up inevitably talking about blogs. I would tell you just how amazed I am when someone comes up to me and tells me they read my blog. I would laugh and say that I assume the only people who read it are those who comment! I feel so lucky and blessed that people want to read my words and that many of those people have become my friends. I would tell you all about a lovely new blog friendship I have made and how much I am enjoying getting to know this lovely lady. I would thank you for reading my blog. 

We would stand up to go, replete from our tea, from doing life together, for friendship. 

Yes, tea with you would be very nice indeed. 

If you were with me now, what would you tell me? 
Do write a post and link it up so we can all enjoy tea with friends. The linky is open all week! 

27 February 2013

Around Here- February edition

This is what life has looked like in February. Plenty of walks along the river bank, spending time with friends, a wonderful trip to Edinburgh, hanging out with this guy and settling into term two of Durham.

My around here pictures are the orphaned photos left behind on memory cards. The pictures that didn't quite make it to the blog post or the album. They are imperfect, they are blurry. They capture now.

If you could sum your month up in one photo, what would it be? 

P.S Tomorrow I am going to post "lets sit down and have a cup of tea". This month I am going to try and add a linky if you would like to join in and share what you would say whilst sipping on your favourite brew! 

26 February 2013

Project Life week 8

It's week 8! I am becoming far more disorganised with my PL spreads, probably because the last few weekends have been pretty busy.

I had a lot of instagram photos this week from my lent instagram project. I contemplated putting all the photos into the spread but then decided that maybe that was overkill!

I love the two shoe photos I managed to capture last week. They were great to document the crazy weather we had- spring to winter and snow in a matter of days!

I used one of my stamped images I gave as a free download here. I found it summed up my sentiments well this week, especially regarding taking an instagram photo each day. I am contemplating doing a second set of stamped words when I next have access to a scanner.

This second page is all about keeping it real. I had a bit of a wake up call regarding work and I wanted to document that. It is important to me that PL is about recording the tough things as well as the wonderful things. I want to look through  my book at the end of the year and have a real document of life, not the edited nice version!

I made a simple quote graphic for this week, taking inspiration from the quote cards I have used the last few weeks. I have popped it in at the end of the post if you would like to copy it and have it for personal use.

Phew! A lot of things to say on these two pages but all good stuff folks!

23 February 2013

The tea shop

We have our favourite tea shops here in Durham. Some we like for the choice of cake, some for the cozy sofas, some for the size. This was a new find. A new branch from one of our favourites. This is a tea shop that hasn't done away with table service. There is the promise of hot freshly baked scones and mis matched crockery.

It is a light airy place to chat in. The tea is cheap and a pot for two fills at least six cups. They also don't mind us halving scones or crumpets to save the pennies.

Part of me dreams of owning a tea shop like this, where the walls are white and the bunting waves in the breeze. I would love a room of mismatched chairs and tables, a wall of battered books that customers could borrow and a cozy nook by the fire where you could come and knit. The cakes would change each day and the tea would be plentiful.

Maybe. One day.

For now this tiny tea shop is a little slice of perfect.

22 February 2013

Life right now according to instagram.

Life is busy and full and fun. I have a head full of blog posts and not enough time to get them out of my head and onto the screen.

Anyway I do have time to squeeze those instagram pictures in so here is what life looks like right now and gosh what a lot has happened in a month!

Top row left to right: Finding our student house for next year and signing the paper work, getting happy mail from my mum.

Middle row: date night with the boy to such a good film, chocolate, working and lots of tea.

Bottom row: spending a lot of time in the library, having les mis sing alongs and walking along rain washed streets.

Top row: Taking photos of crazy skye, loving working in the cathedral library,  working out that I seem to hoard train tickets!

Middle row: Such lovely walks along the river with special friends and making an instagramming commitment in lent.

Bottom row: My chosen psalm for valentines day, sweet presents in my pigeon hole and a valentines card from a friend.

Yep, instagram is still up there as my favourite app. For lent a friend and I decided to take up rather than give up. We are instagramming a psalm or a proverb for every day of lent. It is so much fun to have a photo challenge each day!

As always if you want to follow me my username is abibeach.

Thanks for stopping by.

19 February 2013

Project Life week 7

Project life is posted later each week at the moment! Unintentional I promise! 

This week I had less photo so there is more journaling. I have found it really helpful to take a blog post each week and incorporate it into my spread. I think it will be nice to look back on those key posts in the years ahead. 

I made a few new elements again this week. I found a lovely watercolour brush set which I have been having fun playing with and a great new script font which is lovely for titles. I also used quite a few instagram photos on this page. 

Last week I used a quote for the first time on my page and really liked the effect so I decided to add another one. They are from a free download from Elise Blaha. 

Again I made two new graphics. I really like taking colours from the seafoam and olive kits I am using and making my graphics with those colours. In a sense expanding the kit and keeping the album unified! 

It is getting really exciting now to see all the pages coming together. What a lovely book this will be!

18 February 2013

Simply a Moment

It has been a long day and my heart is sad that I have no tea bags left to make myself a brew when I get in. 

I should just head to the supermarket I think, but then again know I will be tempted by the chocolate aisle. 

As per usual after supper I head with my friends to check the pigeon holes for post. We are still innocently expectant each day, even when we know we haven't ordered anything or are expecting any post. 

Underneath each pigeon hole is a cupboard for larger parcels. More out of habit I check it and like normal there isn't anything there. 

I turn to leave but my friend seems insistent that I check again. 

This is odd I think. So I do. I still can't see anything. She laughs and points.

There in the back corner is a little box with a little note, tied up in green ribbon. 

I am so thankful to have such good friends. Friends who know that a little act like giving a box of fresh teabags can so brighten my day. 

This was a simple but blessed moment in my day last week, what was yours? 

Today I am joining in with Alexa's lovely meme, "Simply a Moment". Do stop by her blog and join in. 

14 February 2013

He's a keeper

This boy...

Can make me laugh till I am crying.
Picks up on funny mannerisms or characteristics in an instant.
Hates facebook.
Loves his bike.

This boy

Is generous.
cooks meticulously.
Has a great taste in shoes
Listens hard.

This boy

Is an affirmer
Has a seemingly endless bank of 'useless' general knowledge
Works hard
Lives for God.

For these and a whole host of other reasons. This boy's a keeper.

Valentines Day 2013

12 February 2013

Project Life week 6

Here we are again and again I am a day late!

I am glad I have got to week 6. In my mind it is confirming that this project isn't just something to do one a whim but that I am committing to documenting life for the year. Project Life is changing my photography habits too. I know that at the end of each week I will be looking for photos to put in the album therefore certainly the big camera gets more of a workout!

I know that there are different ways of tackling PL. Mine is the least scientific. I find a couple of hours on a Sunday and make my two pages. I don't mind too much about coherent papers etc. I am still working mostly from the seafoam and olive kits but also add some of my own creations into the mix.

At week 6 I have found I like neutrals and pops of colour, that keeping to just two fonts was a good idea and that I hardly ever just pop a photo into a space without adding anything to it!

A few weeks back I played around with splitting a photo across several of the slots. I really liked that effect so did it twice on this first page with my photos of the library.

I often take words from the blog and use them for journaling in my PL album. The journalling here was taken from my previous post about the cathedral library.

I also played around on this page with combining three photos onto one 6 x 4 on the bottom left. I find this is a great way of getting lots of photos in, especially ones that go in a set like these do.

The second page documents my trip to Edinburgh. I decided to write straight on the photo of the city as it had some great white space at the top.

If I was doing the album in paper form I would have included my train ticket. As it was, I photographed and cropped it and added it to one of the spaces. I am so glad I did and I think that I am going to try and repeat this with other tickets and receipts that would have normally gone in.

I love looking back on the pages and seeing how they differ. I am still so excited by this project.

10 February 2013

The Cathedral Library

This space is a good place to work in.
My friend and I discovered the library on a whim. We were walking through the cloisters, feeling the  wind whip at our coats. We saw the old sign and the heavy wooden door and decided to investigate.

We are so so glad we did. This was where the monks used to sleep. Over a hundred of them. It is a cavernous room, weighted with history.

Modern text books sit side by side with huge manuscripts. The shelves tower up the ceiling with ladders next to them and small notices asking you to not touch.

The room is flooded with light from the huge window at the far end and along the side.

It is like stepping into Hogwarts. The library is a hidden gem of a place, up a staircase and through a low door.

The room is peaceful. I think because it is in the heart of the cathedral. As we sit working, the bells chime the quarter hour, their peels echoing through the huge space.

Tourists often come and visit, their heels ringing across the wooden floor. I don't blame them. The library is wonderful to look around.

My favourite space to work is in between the bookshelves. I go down towards the quieter end of the long gallery. There is a lamp for each desk and just one chair so lots of space to spread out.

I have to remember to come prepared because it is freezing. I normally wear three jumpers but still huddle close to the radiator and try to block out the draught from the window next to the desk.

It is a good place to work. There is no internet, no distractions. I can hide away between the shelves and study.

And when I want a break I gaze out of the window to my right, at the cathedral garden and Durham stretching out beneath me.

P.S My lovely blog friend Sinead has just started her own blog over here. Do go and check it out. She is the sweetest thing and writes good stuff!

7 February 2013


No question this month. What a great film. So very emotional, such great music, go see. "One day More" is probably my favourite song but it was a difficult choice!

This is an old favourite but when I have a bit of work on it is nice to read something easy and friendly. This a a compendium of Gerald Durrell's three books on his time in Corfu as a boy. They are very funny and very easy to dip in and out of.

I am pleased with this photo. I am planning some adventures into embroidery and literally planning my next essay. I know, don't say I don't treat you. Pictures with multi meanings, over here!

Again, I am no fashion blogger. How do they get those pictures, seriously? I mean this was either my face or my jumper. You can't have both friends! At the moment I am still wearing those big jumpers ( I think I will be till May) but am now teaming them with a collared shirt.

So I have joyfully said goodbye to January and welcomed in the shortest month.
Hey February, what's in store?

4 February 2013

Project Life week 5

So week five came around quickly!

I find there are some weeks on this project when I will have a lot of photos and some weeks when I am scrabbling through the instagram files thinking, "I have no photos whatsoever!"

Thankfully this week was the former and the SLR even made an appearance! Unfortunately this coincided with a week when we frequented most of the coffee shops in Durham, hence why I have eight different photos of mugs and teapots. Variation is the spice of life my friends!

Because I had sets of fairly similar photos from the week I decided to make the pages like a double layout, with the tea shots taking up all of the 3x4 spaces.

I did nothing hugely special with this first page. We had such beautiful weather this week I wanted to record that. I used a photo that was totally out of focus as a background for text. This is a favourite technique of mine- don't bin those blurry photos!

I also used a quote which I felt summed up the weeks tea drinking!

Again on the second page I used another of my own ombre graphics. I am finding I like to keep the accents on my pages pretty clean and graphic. I had too many photos I wanted to include on this page so made a quick photo grid for the bottom right slot.

Another useful technique I have found is using parts of a journalling card on a photo to add a sentiment or journalling. I did this on the bottom left photo of each page.

Fairly simple layouts here with not too much journaling. I am not overly concerned about the ratio of words to photos. I figure some weeks there will be a lot to say and some weeks not.

Real life. That's the main thing.

3 February 2013

Storytelling Sunday- Precious letters

Why is it that we can delete a text or an email in one stroke but throwing away a letter is so hard? 
For nearly nine years my Mum has written to me. Away at boarding school, on my gap year and now at uni. 

At home there is a stack of letters held together by a bull dog clip. Not all of them are there. Some have got lost behind beds, under trunks or in house moves but the majority remain. 

This stack is just from my time at uni. Most weeks I get a letter. Sometimes it comes with chocolate, sometimes with post from home. Often on its own. 

I love them. Even though the news is old, even though we have shared this stuff on the phone each day, she has taken the time to sit down and write. Nearly always in green pen.

They are funny, they sometimes contain hand drawn pictures. They connect me to home. 

Letters are special. This stack, like the stack at home, is precious to me. It says, I thought of you, I took the time to sit down and write and draw, this is for you.

And sometimes when a letter doesn't quite cut it I get something like this...

Yes, these are precious. 

I am joining in with Sian's storytelling Sunday. This year we are sharing what is precious. Pop on over, read some tales, join in. 

1 February 2013

Tips for photographing reluctant boys/men

The boys in my life do not like posing.
I might even go a step further to say that they don't like photos being taken.
My brothers and the boy will let out audible sighs when they see the camera.

But a girls got to do, what a girls got to do yes? So, here are my five simple, tried and tested tips for photographing men. Disclaimer: I cannot offer a guarantee of success. 

1. Do the leg work before hand. Make it easy for yourself. In my experience boys want to stand still and pose for close to five minutes. Moving them about because "the lighting isn't right" is not going to win you any points. Find a spot where you know the lighting is good and put on your best persuasive tone.

In this picture I took my brother out to a field in the late afternoon. I knew the light would be good and we did the photos quickly.

2. Place your camera up to your eye and just keep taking photos. I find the best way is to get your subject in the right place, look through the camera and ask them questions. Yep, you are going to get a load of duff shots and a lot of silliness but there may just be a gem in there. Also, bonus, the pictures look more natural. Second bonus, they won't realise how many you are taking!

3. If possible- especially with teenage boys- get an assistant. I find it far easier taking pictures of my brothers if the other one is there because they tend to make each other laugh which means nice natural shots.

4. Bribery. There I said it. It can be as little as the promise of the shots as new facebook profile pictures or a hug and a kiss. On a more serious note, stick to what you promise. I am being very general here but most guys don't love having their photo taken. Especially not when it becomes a shoot on its own. Therefore ask for five minutes of their time and stick to it. That way they are more likely to agree the next time.

5. Take the opportunity. I have found the less of a "photo shoot" it is, the more a man likes having his picture taken. Here the boy was standing in front of his window which had a lovely soft net curtain. I just asked him to look up and got this. Love.

As a side point, don't be averse to editing out of camera. This comes back to point number one. It is better to keep your man happy and do a quick shoot with dodgy lighting than take all day trying to get the perfect shot in camera.  

Enjoy shooting the boys. (great phrase that!)