In the last couple of months, both of my parents have accidentally retired. My dad had been pondering the whens and hows of it for around 18 months, when circumstances contrived to make it happen a little sooner than planned. It's possible he over-egged the telling once it was finally decided (even my birthday card this year included the phrase 'have I told you I'm retired?'), which should hopefully go a little way to explaining the inspiration behind the 'happy retirement' card I made for him.
It seems like he set a trend, because a few weeks ago, my mum also joined the retirement party earlier than expected. She's gone for the keeping-ridiculously-busy approach to it so far, rather than my dad's share-it-and-share-it-again option.
I, meanwhile, have gone for butterflies and flowers on retirement card no.2, plus a little wish for (lots of) happy days.
Happy retirement, Mum & Dad - may it be long, relaxing and thoroughly marvellous.
Despite the simplicity of this project, it actually took me an age to put together this week. Spray painting glass jars and bottles outdoors, in between the heaviest and most determined of downpours? Not the best idea. If you fancy giving it a go yourself, don't be an impatient idiot like me. Hold out for a dry day instead, and everything else should be easy-breezy.
You can find a quick step-by-step tutorial over at the Hambly blog, and in case you were wondering (you wouldn't be the first), all of the photos are in colour; it's just the glassware and the wallpaper background which are in black and white.
A couple of weeks ago, I bought some yellow wool felt from one of my favourite online fabric shops. You can never quite tell how colours are going to compare in real life to the shade you see on screen, but in this case it was even prettier than I'd expected and, as everyone knows, the newer and prettier something is, the sooner you have to do something with it.
So, I did.
The pattern on top is a Hambly overlay, and I love the contrast between the glossy, printed acetate and super-soft felt. If you want to make something similar, it's really simple.
:: Draw and cut out a collar-shaped template (just one will do - you can flip it over to cut out the opposite side).
:: Trace around it, twice onto felt and twice onto the overlay. Cut out all four pieces, trimming just inside your marked lines so you don't have to worry about erasing them.
:: Make small holes in the top and centre points of each piece, using a needle.
:: Place the overlay pieces on top of the felt and thread a single jump ring through all of the centre holes to join them together.
:: Add two more jump rings through the top holes - one on each half of the collar - and add a length of chain before you squeeze the rings shut.
:: Finish off by tying a length of ribbon through the centre jump ring to decorate.
Remember how much I enjoyed taking the Sketch Challenge last month? We've been playing along again over at the Hambly Blog, this time for the March challenge. Although I found it a little bit trickier than February's version (lesson learned: scale is a Very Important Thing when you're making a card instead of a layout), I'm secretly, actually, slightly-annoyingly-smugly happy with how it turned out.
Leah's clever sketch was the starting point . . .
. . . and you can see how everyone else interpreted it over at the blog, along with details on how to join in and win some fancy-shmancy prizes. Plus the chance to feel secretly, actually, slightly-annoyingly-smugly happy.
It feels like I've been banging on about spring for weeks, but today it's officially here. Hurrah! My inner geek wishes you a happy vernal equinox, while my outer and rather more shallow lover-of-pretty-stuff would like to point you towards a project I put together for the Hambly blog last week.
Like this one.
The step-by-step instructions for both the flowers and the garland are over on the Hambly blog right now.
In the comments underneath the project, Leigh (you didn't leave a link or email address, so I can't get back to you directly I'm sorry, Leigh!) left a message asking where to buy Hambly supplies in the UK. As it's a problem I have too, I thought I'd share a couple of sources, along with a general plea to UK shops to start stocking more - the new lines are so gorgeous, it would be . . . well, maybe not criminal, but most definitely tragical not to.
:: Sarah's Cards - one of my favourite UK papercraft shops has a small selection of Hambly overlays, including the Frames Wallpaper, similar to the paper used in this project. (I think a sheet of the yellow overlay may well fall into my cart the next time I go shopping...)
:: The Craftz Boutique - this is probably the biggest selection you'll find in an online, UK-based store. They have over ten pages of papers, overlays and rub-ons, from both older and more recent lines. I'm really hoping they'll pick up some of the new releases - they seem the most likely bet at the moment.
:: The Eternal Maker - I mostly use this shop for their amazing selection of fabrics, and always seem to forget they do a few paper-y things, too. One of those things is Hambly, and although it's only a handful of items, it's a good handful.
:: Craft Island - I think one of the newer paper shops around, but I've used them a couple of times, and they seem great. Again, they don't have a huge Hambly selection, but there are some really good pieces (hello, moustaches), including washi tape.
:: Hambly shop - you can buy directly from Hambly, and have your order shipped internationally. Buying products from US websites often works out to be just as cost-effective as shopping within the UK. It obviously depends on the exchange rate at any given point, but even taking the additional shipping costs into account, it's an option worth considering. Bear in mind you may have to pay customs/import charges if you're ordering over £15-worth of product (find out more here), but that is pounds, and not dollars, which gives you a little more leeway. Scrapbook.com, Emma's Paperie and Two Peas also have good amounts of Hambly which they're prepared to ship internationally.
I really hope that helps, whether you're Leigh or anyone else shopping for Hambly in the UK. You'll only need the smallest amounts to make a happy spring garland of your own, and I've got a couple more projects later in the week which should help any leftover supplies go even further.
So, it's turning out to be a Hambly kind of a week round here, which can only be a good thing. Pretty paper, fancy tape, smart rub-ons . . . nothing you wouldn't be happy to roll around in.
I'm especially happy with today's project though, partly because it's the first time I've done anything like this, but also because you get to play along.
Over at the Hambly blog, Allison has launched a monthly sketch challenge. Not being a scrapbooker, I haven't used sketches before, but one project down and I'm already sold on the idea. Obviously, I didn't make a layout, but part of the fun was working out how to apply a scrapbooking idea to a different kind of project.
Rolling around in it, completely optional.
Have you met my hipster friend, Mr Hambly?
We're not on first name terms yet, but you know . . . maybe one day.
He's a real boy, I tell you. A real boy.
What - you've never had them before?
You're missing a treat. Seriously.
To find a full set of instructions, head over to the Hambly blog. Or, if you're here for my more or less idiot-proof biscuit/cookie recipe (delete as culturally appropriate), behold:
PLAIN AND SIMPLE VANILLA BISCUITS
175g sugar (I used brown, but caster is probably better here)
Pinch of salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
300g plain flour
:: Cream together butter and sugar.
:: Beat in the egg, salt and vanilla essence.
:: Add the flour to form a smooth, soft dough.
:: Place in the fridge for 1-2 hours to chill.
:: Roll out on a flat, floured surface, then follow the cutting out/inserting stick instructions here.
:: Place on a lightly greased or good non-stick baking sheet.
:: Heat oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan oven / 350ºF / gas mark 4) and bake for around 10 minutes, until the edges are just starting to turn light brown.
Replace the vanilla with almond extract for a marzipan-ish taste, or with a few drops of orange oil if citrus is your thing.