Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year

Hi Everybody,

Just a few words to wish everyone a fantastically Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year in 2013.  

May it bring Love, Light and Peace into your life.

(Fireworks from Obsidian Dawn; Champers and glasses - Sandie and Krystal's "A New Year" kit. Clock made entirely by me, based on one I've seen in a client's home. It is a huge clock. :-) )



Saturday, 29 December 2012

Highland Fling Blog Train due to depart very soon....

Hi Everyone,

My crafting friends, Sandie and Krystal, brought out another of their lovely freebie kits recently, in collaboration with another scrapper, Heather.

You can find Highland Heritage at Sandie's blog, or Krystal's blog, and it's well worth the download.

This is the first part of their "Alba" Collection collaboration, and they are also running an associated blog train that is due to depart very soon. I was delighted to be asked to be one of the contributors.

As Sandie says - "As part of the Alba collection we are holding a Highland fling, where you can come and grab a few freebies from a few of our friends , all themed around the Highlands.

So watch out for the links coming  here  soon …..".

Once the "train leaves the station", I'll be letting you know.



Friday, 14 December 2012

New website, and an eBay warning...

Hi Everyone,

I have had a week from hell, not the kind of birthing process I had anticipated for my new website, also Karen's Crafting Nook (I know, hardly original but saves me getting confused at my age. :-) )

Karen's Crafting Nook

But here it is, for the moment at least. Once it has served its temporary purpose, it will go back into hiding for a little while so that I can make a proper job of it, rather than a rushed one.

There are things I need to sort, but just haven't had the time available if I wanted to get these seasonal candles and oils out in the public eye.

The idea had been to slowly build up a stock of hand-crafted items, such as hand-decorated and personalised candles, greetings cards and canvas wall art frames. Some are going to be digitally designed items, and some traditional hand-crafting. Then I would enjoy the challenge of putting together a new website, where I could show and sell these items.

This was all going to take place in the new year.

Unfortunately, fate intervened and things turned out very differently.

On 19th November I had a fall, which resulted in a fractured left wrist, now in a cast, and a very severely sprained ankle. Ironically enough, the accident occurred while collecting decal paper sheets from outside, where I had been spraying them with sealant, prior to applying them to candles for a Christmas Fair I had committed to at work.

I was just about able to manage to get to the Fair, but I was left with some items. Due to the accident, I haven't been able to work since the 19th November; the cast hopefully comes off on the 21st December, but I'm still not likely to be fit for work for another 2-3 weeks at least.

Being self-employed, that means no income. I had intended to take the candles and oils into work with me, as there would probably have been some interest. But I'm housebound for the time being.

Never mind, thought I. I can put these remaining candles on eBay - I might get a little to cover the costs, and a bit extra for Christmas pressies. Simples.

NO, it led to the week from hell!

I've posted about my experience as someone thinking of starting a small hand-crafts business on eBay UK on my Facebook page, and I've left a tell-all-about-account on their eBay page.  It really does wonders for your confidence to obviously be thought of as some shady, scam-artist, counterfeiting, copyright-infringing, restriction-avoiding total bad egg. I only tried to post 10 small bottle of my hand-blended Christmas essential oils for room scents. That was all I was allowed. Just trying to make a little income from my own work, when my other resources were currently limited. Especially when there appear to be similar items for sale without problems. 

Perhaps I was in the wrong somehow - but I had read all their links as to what was appropriate - it must be obvious I'm new to this as my other forays have been the occasional sale of duplicated gifts - but I have spent a whole  week trying to get a specific response to my queries, instead of generic references to linked pages, each contact someone different, and I'm still none the ruddy wiser! I'd at least like to know exactly where I erred - not that I'm likely to have anything else to do with them after this! If I did do something wrong, it was not at all intentional.

So, when I should have been resting up and healing, I've been flat out working at the PC. My foot is still quite badly bruised and tender 3 weeks after the event, and swelling in the evening because I've spent all my waking hours putting together a website very different to ones I've done before (THANK YOU so much, MJH of the Serif forums for all your help and support) and I'm slowed down considerably by having only one properly working hand. It's not the webste I had anticipated, but I'm hoping it will do for now.

So far from feeling festive, I am feeling very stressed out. So thanks for that, eBay. Looking at their FB page it becomes apparent I'm not the only one hacked off with their Customer Services and the way they treat people.

This is going to make this a very long blog post but I'm putting it on record here (my eBay post) as well for those who don't do Facebook. You don't have to read the following but I really do not want anyone else to have to go through this.

I'd just like to say thank you, eBay, thank you so very much for the WEEK FROM HELL!

On the 19th November I had a fall that left me with a fractured wrist and a very severely sprained ankle. I was just about able to attend a Christmas Fair at work that I had committed to on the 1st December but I had some stock of hand-decorated Christmas candles and festive essential oil room scenting blends left over. As the fractured wrist and the severely sprained ankle mean the likelihood of at least 5 - 6 weeks off work, with no income as a result I thought it would be a good idea to put the remaining stock on eBay.

Silly me!

Should be a simple job - get them put on, and then spend the time making my Christmas cards, and hand-made presents for family and friends, and just chill out and relax; getting into the festive mood, and perhaps even having a few sales to offset my costs.

How WRONG could I have been!

It took nearly a couple of days to get some photos taken and prepped. I checked the links for what was OK - couldn't see any problem. Spent quite a long time putting the details on.

Some time ago, perhaps 18 months or so I had had a listing for 30-ish of an eBook CD which I had compiled, and had no problems with that. So when I hit the list button, I was a little surprised to get a message that said I could only list 10 items. I had seen this browsing the site but it also mentioned £650 so I had assumed that my little lot of oil blends would be fine as they fell way below that amount.

OK - another browse around the site and it occurred to me that the things I had to sell were hand-made and going to be sold to make a profit, which comes under business use, so decided to set up a business account to cover that, instead of using my own personal account.

This had already taken up the best part of a couple of days, but I relisted the items. Still a 10 item barrier (which made me think how the hell does anyone manage to get a business started on eBay in that case?) so I decided I'd just put up 10 of my essential oil blends. I put them in categories for essential oils and aromatherapy, and home fragrances - essential oils and diffusers. (I see other's have 10 mls bottles of Christmas Blends for sale, with a link beneath that says Sell one like this - so how come they haven't been told the same thing as me?)

I sent off to lift the limitations on my personal account as I might need to sell off some crafting stock I never use, and that said it could take up to 7 days to arrive in the post. It actually came a couple of days later and lets me sell 100 items a month now. (Although frankly I doubt I'm ever going to bother with eBay ever again after this!)

So, 5th December - listing live.

However, a few hours later I got this email from eBay.

5th December

The following listing(s) have been removed because of concerns with your account:

130814581245 - Christmas Xmas Aromatherapy Essential Oil Blends

...The listing(s) removed from your account showed similarities to listings that have resulted in bad buying experiences, such as complaints from buyers that the item is of poor quality or inauthentic. Based on these similarities, please don't relist these items on eBay. For more information about our replicas, counterfeit items, and unauthorized copies policy, go to:

Sellers aren't allowed to avoid limits on their account by listing an item in the wrong category or by intentionally excluding descriptive information in their listing titles. Additionally, you aren't allowed to register new accounts or use other existing accounts to avoid selling restrictions or limits or other policy consequences. For more information about limits on eBay sellers, go to:

Learn more about our rules for listings:

We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.


eBay Trust and Safety

Counterfeit items, duplicas, replicas, copyright - mentioned in the link. ????? These are my own blends/recipes; I'm a qualified aromatherapist I clearly stated they were hand-blended by me. And had a list of ways they could be used to scent the house. WTH? Avoiding limits on accounts? I'd listed 10 items. On one account, which I've later learned is OK to have more than one account, personal and business.

My reply:

Hi there,

I was unaware that I would not be able to sell my own aromatherapy oil blends on ebay. I haven’t claimed them to be replicas or counterfeit items, but if you say they can’t be listed, then so be it. Will I instead be allowed to list 10 hand-decorated candles? It looks like trying to start up a business on ebay is far from easy if I can only sell 10 items a months. Looks like I’ll have to consider alternatives.

As I was sending that this appeared in my inbox:

We regret to inform you that, because of a recent policy breach, your account has been restricted from selling for a period of seven (7) days. During this time you won't be able to list new items, and you're not allowed to register a new account.

Please be assured that your account is not suspended, the restriction will be lifted automatically once the seven day period is over.

While your account is restricted you won't be able to sell on eBay, however you may continue to buy items, leave Feedback, access emails in My Messages and do most other administrative tasks.

Please be aware that repeated breaches of this or another policy may result in a range of actions, including the suspension of your eBay membership. This restriction doesn't relieve you of your obligation to pay any fees that you may owe to eBay.

If you have any further questions, please review the notice that was previously sent to you about this restriction.

Thank you for your cooperation in this important matter.


eBay Trust & Safety

Oh wonderful - instead of seeing that it must have been a novice error, they now made sure that the window of opportunity for time-sensitive items was b*ggered. Nice to know I can still spend money with them....

It was then a kick in the teeth to receive an email from eBay on the 7th talking about kick-starting your sales. Plus a letter thanking me for joining the eBay community and saying Business Seller Support "is available to you, with a team who can call you direct with advice and tips relevant to your eBay account. What's more, it's free.... so book a call today by visiting us at" Great, I thought, I can talk to someone and find out what the hell's gone wrong. Shouldn't have got so excited - click on that link - you get page not found.

So I decided I'd try live chat.

Justin North 15:20:55
Welcome to Live Help, my name is Justin. How may I be of assistance?

Me 15:24:56
I have received a letter welcoming me after registering as a business on eBay. It mentions Business Seller Support being available via a Support Team available between 09.00-17.00 Mon-Fri "so book a call today by visiting us at" Unfortunately this comes up as not found. I would really like to have a chat with someone, having already encountered a big problem on my first tentative outing. Can you advise how I can reach this Support Team?

Justin North 15:25:16
While I am looking into this, is there anything else you would like me to look into for you?

Justin North 15:25:51
Can I have your concern so that I can look into this for you.

Me 15:29:28
My first listing was cancelled as inapprpriate. I had looked to check as I was trying to sell some essential oil festive room blends I had left over from a xmas fair. The email mentioned counterfieting and copyright - which I don't understand as I clearly stated they were hand-blended by me, a qualified aromatherapist. They aren't perfumes or cosmetics. On top of that, I also received a 7 day restriction on selling so can't even try to sell some xmas candles either. As I am unable to worjk at the moment due to a fall leaving me with a fractured wrist and a severely sprained ankle I'd hoped to get a little income from selling on eBay.

Me 15:30:47
As it seems I'm limited to only 10 items a month as well, I'm obviously not going to get very far as my items are only about £4-5 each.

Justin North 15:32:07
In order to resolve your issue, I will connect you with our UK Trust and Safety Team now. Would that be fine?

Me 15:32:47
Yes, that would be fine. I'd just like to try and see just how I've got it so wrong.

Justin North 15:34:26
Thanks for confirming. I will transfer you now.

Me 15:34:40
Thank you.

Ryan Kingshead 15:34:53
Welcome to eBay Live Help, my name is Ryan. Please give me a moment to read your conversation with previous representative.

Me 15:35:36
OK. You will have to excuse my slow replies - typing with one hand is rather slow work.

Ryan Kingshead 15:38:59
Thanks for contacting us in relation to the removal of your listing.

Ryan Kingshead 15:39:04
Please allow me few minutes to review your account details.

Me 15:39:25

Ryan Kingshead 15:41:32
Thanks for waiting.

Ryan Kingshead 15:41:41
I have reviewed your account and found that the issue on your account requires the attention of the relevant team who is specialised to help our members in such cases. What I’ll do now is escalate the issue on your behalf, so you won’t have to email them. They will get back to you with the best possible resolution via email.

Thank you for your response. Is email the only option as it is a long process to write all the relevant stuff down - a phone call would make it a lot easier, if it were possible?

Ryan Kingshead 15:44:05
Karen, as the concerned team don't have a chat line, they will contact you via email only.

Ryan Kingshead 15:44:27
You can expect then contacting you within the next 48 business hours.

Me 15:44:54
OK - that will do then. I look forward to hearing from them. Thank you for your help.

Me 15:45:36

Ryan Kingshead 15:46:51
Thank you for using eBay Live Chat. Have a good evening.

The chat session is being wrapped up.

The chat session has ended.

So still no idea what the real problem is. And notice - no response to the explicit question about the Business Support Team. I was so stressed at the time I didn't realise, but reading it now I notice that was totally ignored.

Did get a pretty prompt response.

Hello karen,

Thanks for getting in touch about the removal of your listings. My name is Rita and I'll assist you with your query.

We removed your listing because we don't allow seller to avoid limits on their account by listing an item in the wrong category or by intentionally leaving out descriptive information in their listing titles. Additionally, we don't allowed to register new accounts or use other existing accounts to avoid selling restrictions or limits or other policy consequences.
Please see our Limits on eBay sellers help page for more information:

I trust this information is helpful. (In a word - NO.)

Kind regards,
Rita Larkin
eBay Trust & Safety

My reply:

Dear Rita,

Thank you for getting back to me.

Unfortunately I still genuinely do not know where I erred. This is the first time I have tried to sell things other than bits and bobs of duplicated or unused presents. I thought I had put the listing in the right category of essential oils and aromatherapy. I thought I had put a correct title. Can you please specifically advise me where I went wrong as so far everything I have received from eBay has been vague generalisations, which have done nothing to illuminate things for me.

I originally started the listing on my personal account, but then realised that it needed to be a business account instead, as they were hand-made and going to be sold to make a profit, so set that up. Are we then only allowed one account on eBay period? I am genuinely trying to set up a small business as an additional income stream to my aromatherapy, especially as at the moment I have a fractured wrist and severely sprained ankle that means I can’t do my normal work for almost two months. I am not trying to avoid any selling restrictions or limits – I just want to earn a little extra income with products I have made myself.

This morning I received a letter from eBay referring to a Business Seller Support Team, of which I am obviously in much need. The letter states they “can call me direct with advice and tips relevant to your eBay account. What’s more, it’s free! ... to book a call visit us at .” However, that url comes up as Not Found, yet another frustration as I really would like to be able to physically talk to someone about all this instead of having to painstakingly (literally) typing it all out.

So I would really appreciate some specific clarification before I get so fed up with it all, especially after all the time I have spent on this these last few days, and yes, I did look at the pages you indicated before I started, and the restrictions and all that but could not see that I did things intentionally contrary to what is stated. If I have, then it is a genuine error on my part, which is why I would like to have it spelled out to me exactly what I have done wrong.

I look forward to your reply.


Karen Lewis

Two days later: 9th December

Hello Karen,

Thanks for your email about the removal of your listings. My name is Nathan and I will advise you.

I have looked at your account and see you were in touch with Rita who said your listings were removed because it appeared you were trying to avoid the limits on your other account.

We're not saying you're not allowed to have another account but if your account has limits on it then you list on another. If you simply listed your items on another account just to avoid the restrictions then that would defeat the whole purpose of having the restrictions.

If you wish to know more about the restrictions and how to lift them please write back to us from the relevant account. I appreciate you feel this situation can be resolved easier over the telephone but I'm afraid we do not offer telephone support for this kind of query.

Nathan Crowther,
eBay Trust & Safety.

As I've been desperately trying to sort out a website of my own since it became obvious that eBay think I'm some kind of scam artist - and websites aren't really the kind of thing you can just throw up in this instance, and I've been spending pretty much every waking hour on it for almost a week - not easy when you only have the use of one hand and have a sprained foot that badly wants to be cossetted and up on a cushion, not sitting for hours at a PC and getting stressed up to high hell - and didn't have the time to waste. I finally replied to this yesterday, Wednesday 12th at 2.04 pm.

Dear Nathan,

I am so totally depressed and stressed out by all this – you cannot believe how much this has made a distressing situation even far more stressful. I have been trying to throw up my own website over the last few days to try and get some income from my handiwork and keep hitting snag after snag – just because it seems that eBay have me marked down as some shady counterfeiting con-artist, trying to dodge restrictions and God knows what else, when all I wanted to do was to put some things on eBay, in a business account separate from my private one. Which from what you say is OK.

I am going round and round in circles, getting nowhere fast, and as for feeling festive, or trying to relax so I can heal after my accident, that is well and truly stuffed thanks to eBay!

No-one has got back with an answer to say what the proper link is to the Business Support Team, and if there is no such thing why is it ( ) put in the letter sent out to me?

Please do let me know about these restrictions and how they can be lifted, although it’s pretty obvious that all the time I have spent on this means that I’ve missed the boat anyway.

And it would be really nice if there was some continuity – every time I send a message, there is the time drag getting back to me, and then it’s someone completely different. I can’t remember now if you are the 4th or 5th person to deal with this. I have tried to reply to this from inside my eBay account but hitting the Reply button does nothing at all in relation to this message. So hopefully this will have to do.

Karen Lewis

Still waiting for a reply to that one!

So thanks eBay for making me feel like some kind of criminal. I am still none the wiser as to how I have digressed, especially when I see others have similar items to mine listed.

So instead of having a fun time crafting, and continuing to heal after my accident during this last week, I have been stressed up big time. It's hard to get in a festive mood feeling like this and at this rate we are wiping out Christmas this year.

Your customer support is laughable, with at least 24 - 48 hours breaks between emails - there is no continuity, and it seems that generalisations alone are the order of the day. I see other posts talking about working to scripts - I think that must indeed be the case. Where is the answer to the so-called Business Seller Support query.

Hacked off is only part of the way I feel about your company. Believe me, this experience is going to be logged on my blog as well as my own page. Let others see how badly eBay treats the little people. I see I'm not alone in being disgruntled with the way you treat people.
So if you are thinking of making a bit of money from your crafting - whatever it is, and I consider my aromatherapy oils blends as a hand-crafted item, just be very wary about using eBay. They might have the buyers gathered together,  but I'd rather work on building my own client base than go through this again. Just my experience.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Fun With Filter Effects Freebie updated for use with CraftArtist 2

Hi Everyone,

Serif have recently launched their new version of CraftArtist, CraftArtist 2 (CA2). I haven't had much time since coming back from our Scotland holiday to really get stuck in yet, but it's looking a lot of fun, with some lovely new additions.

This does mean, of course, that my "Fun with Filter Effects" tutorial will need an update as the Filter Effects have been augmented with a new Graphics Styles category, which works slightly differently.

So that has been added to the "To Do" list....

Effects have become quite popular on the Daisytrail forum and so I have spent a little time working on the CA1 Filter Effects freebies that I made to accompany the tutorial, so that they can now easily and quickly be transferred into CA2.

For those who wish to, they can download them here. There are instructions included on how to move them to the relevant AppData folder, and more information can be found at Daisytrail.

Now all I have to do is transfer across all my own personal effects - that will take a little time. :-)



Sunday, 26 August 2012

"Fun With Filter Effects" Freebie Effects for Serif CraftArtist Professional

Hi Everyone,

As a result of making the tutorial "Fun With Filter Effects" for use in Serif's CraftArtist Professional, I have created a Freebie CraftArtist Scrapbook File with 16 effects that you can add to your Effects Tab and use in your projects.

Once you have downloaded the Scrapbook zip file (it is in a Serif .craft file format) , unzip it  and save the file in the same place you store your own scrapbook pages. 

To open the .craft file go to File > Open, and then browse to the file as usual. 

Along with the effects there are two pages that include instructions about how to add the effects to your Effects Tab.

On the video, I ask if anyone can tell what the difference is between Selene Steampunk 1 and 2 effects - just for fun. If you think you know, leave a comment on the blog. :-)

 The images and embellishments are from screen captures 
I wouldn't normally use so many different effects on one page, but this gives an idea of how they can be applied to frames. They also look good on text and fonts, and other small items. The background is also made using one of the effects, so they can look fine on larger items as well. You just have to experiment and see what looks good to you.

I hope you enjoy using these, and that perhaps you will get around to making your own.



Fun With Filter Effects - a CraftArtist Professional Tutorial

Hi Everyone,

I've finally managed to get together another tutorial for Serif's CraftArtist Professional. It's taken a while as other things have occupied my time, but "Fun With Filter Effects" is now available to view. 

Excuse my scratchy voice - this was about the 8th attempt at it today. :-)

My apologies but it is rather a long one, over 30 minutes, so have your beverage of choice to hand, be it coffee or tea, or even a G&T, and perhaps a snack or two to stave off the hunger pangs. :-)

This time the focus was on using the Filter Effects in CraftArtist. This wonderful box of tricks is amazingly great fun to play with - the little squeaks, and oohs and aahs as I play with it are quite amusing, according to my Other Half. You can certainly get totally lost in time.

There is so much you can do when you get into the flow, and I want to show that it is actually very easy to make up your own lovely effects. 

Perhaps, like me when I first started using the Serif software, you've looked at the Filter Effect box and thought it looks far too complicated and difficult to use. Scary!

Most people have probably used Bevel and Embossing and some basic 3D effects.

However, if you delve in deeper and have fun moving sliders, changing values and keep an eye on how these things change your selected item, you will find that you come up with your own, unique effects. You can keep going for as long as you like - so many different combinations - just keep experimenting!

Having come up with your lovely effects I also show you how to save them away, ready for use whenever you want them.

As with my previous tutorials, there is an accompanying PDF file (download here), with screen captures of all the salient points.

The use of Filter Effects has been mentioned on the DaisyTrail forums quite a lot recently. Some members have already created Effects to share with us, among these being trulytango - the "Effects Queen" to my mind  :-) (various on her blog), mazza1950 (Crazy Effects), and summersara72 (Gemstones Effects).

The idea for the tutorial was triggered when I made a page and wanted an effect for a frame that would tone in with the colours of our cat's coat.

Created in CraftArtist. Kit used is Rhonda's Steampunk-ish. The clusters came in the kit – I can't take any credit for someone else's work. But the frame is mine – completely from scratch!

I do hope you enjoy the video and/or the PDF tutorial, and find them useful. I'd be interested in any feedback so that future ventures can be tweaked if needs be. 

If you have any problems or queries then please do leave a note in the comments or contact me on DaisyTrail.

When watching the video, if you find the view looks blurry, go to the "Change Quality" setting, the little cog at the lower right of the screen, at the opposite end to where you maximise / minimise the screen, and push it up to 1080p HD. That sharpens things up.

Other tutorials for Craft Artist, and DSA2, can be found on the Serif You Tube Channel, and also on the Daisytrail website here



Monday, 6 August 2012

Sunshine Award - What a great surprise!

Hi Everyone,

I am delighted to find out that I am a recipient of a Sunshine Award from WendyP , and then a little later, Sandie. This is a great surprise, coming out of the blue! It is also the first time I have received an award of any kind for my blog.

Thank you very much, both Wendy and Sandie. It is much appreciated.

The Rules of the award are:-

1. You should thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them. 

2. Answer the following 10 questions about yourself.
3. Choose 10 of your favorite bloggers and link their blogs to your post. Be sure to let them know that you are nominating them for the award.
4. Be sure to copy and paste the award to your blog!


1. Favourite Colour - all shades of purple.

2. Favourite animal - Most definitely cats!

3. Favourite number - 11

4. Favourite drink - Tea, although I do also like a coffee with double cream and Irish Cream. Yum!

5. Facebook or Twitter - I finally got around to having a FB account a few months ago after much hesitation; I'm quite enjoying it but not letting it take over my life..

6. Good Book or Good Movie - Got to be books - I was reading historical fiction and non-fiction books from the Adult Section of our local library from age 10 and, although I don't read quite as much as I'd like for pleasure now, we do have something in the region of 4,500 + books in the house! Our own personal library.

7. My passions - my husband and cats, Digi-crafting, History and Personal Development, and I love the Yorkshire Dales.

8. Giving or getting gifts - Both.

9. Favourite Day - every day.

10.Favourite Flower - White roses.

Choosing 10 of my favourite bloggers is quite tricky as a number of them have already been nominated - Sandie, Sara, Minky, Kyra, Miriam's Scraps and Scrappiness Down Under amongst them.

However, these are my nominations (I have many that I keep up with via my Google Reader Page, but I have chosen from those who are active at the moment, as some haven't posted in a little while).

So, in no particular order of preference :

Lady Nickitta's 
Zanthia - Cooper's Corner 
Carol - Scraps by Oreo's Meow
Jessica - Gothic Inspirations
Jeni - Misty's Design
Mary - Marys' Mixes
Shannon - Sharing Scraps
Glenda Waterworth
Sheena Douglass
Debbi - The Crafty Cuttings of Wiccababe



Friday, 29 June 2012

Converting a heart embellishment to a frame using "Convert to Curves" - a tutorial for Serif Craft Artist.

Hi Everyone,

I'm back with another little video tutorial using my favourite crafting software, Serif Craft Artist Professional. As usual, I have also provided the accompanying PDF version, which you can download - click here.

Watching a recording I had made of Michelle Jackson-Mogford demonstrating Serif Craft Artist on Create & Craft recently, she had an enquiry from a viewer asking if it was possible to make a heart shape embellishment, from the DaisyTrail “Cupid” kit, into a gold frame.

Michelle tried it out on air by using the usual quick and simple way to convert an image to a frame: dragging the embellishment into the Frames Tab, and then back out on to the workspace. Because the heart is slightly more intricate in shape, this didn't work.

Instead, Michelle demonstrated how you can make your own gold heart frame from Quick Shapes, and adding one of the Metallic Effects.

A thread was raised in the DaisyTrail Forum about Michelle's alternative: Making gold heart frame demo, and one of the responses mentioned that you can indeed convert this embellishment to a frame and linked to the Creating smart photo frames in Digital Scrapbook Artist tutorial, one of the DaisyTrail Video Tutorials.

I knew as well, from making the Word Art Frames tutorial last year, that it should be possible to convert this embellishment into a frame; it follows a similar approach to that mentioned in the tutorial. It just takes a bit more time and fiddling around than Michelle had on air.

As I gave it a try, I realised that there is yet another alternative - using the "Convert to Curves" feature so that I could really fine tune things.

So here is the video:

Here is a card I produced using the new frame and the kit, for my sister's wedding anniversary. The church is St Lukes, in Cannock, Staffordshire, where they got married.

I do hope you enjoy the videos and the pdf tutorials and find them useful. I'd be interested in any feedback so that future ventures can be tweaked if needs be. If you have any problems or queries then please do leave a note in the comments.

When watching the video, if you find the view looks blurry, go to the "Change Quality" setting, the little cog at the lower right of the screen, at the opposite end to where you maximise / minimise the screen, and push it up to 1080p HD. That sharpens things up.

Other tutorials for Craft Artist, and DSA2, can be found on the Serif You Tube Channel, and also on the Daisytrail website here.



Friday, 15 June 2012

Kitten Cam's Miranda is looking for her purrfect furever home....

Hi Everybody,

Last weekend, when I should really have been working on a few things, I found my time taken up instead by the fate of a Mama Cat and her kittens on the other side of the world.

As I mentioned in my anniversary post about Selene,  I've been watching the Kitten Cam for the last few weeks, getting my daily fix of cuteness. 

It was a wonderful de-stressing technique, with many laugh-out-loud moments, especially as Miranda Mama Cat didn't seem to like her offspring sleeping up on high on the various cat-trees. Her response was to "evict" them, dragging them off by the scruffs of their necks, which wasn't always easy as they grew bigger. A rather rude awakening at times for them - "What am I doing on the floor?"

Photos from The Kitten Cam
These kittens are very sophisti-cat-ed. John would bring his iPad with him and the kittens would play with the cat games on there - apparently they were becoming expert at hacking it.

You can see some videos over at the Kitten Cam, a reminder of just how active these little critters could be, and also how they would just flake out for hours on end.

However, last Saturday was the day of their adoption event. The time zone differences meant I had a good part of the day to watch their antics for the last time before they were all transported off to the Purrfect Pals Everett Petsmart location.

Unfortunately, John, their wonderful foster dad, injured his knee just a couple of days before they left, so was unable to be with them as planned on the day, so he was online chatting as we waited to hear what was happening with Cagney, Casey, Cassidy, Corey and Miranda.

Instead of going off and doing other things I found myself glued to the PC. There was elation when we heard that Cassidy had been adopted, and then later in the day there was a bit of high drama when poor little Cassidy was returned.

By the end of the day, rather unusually, apparently, none of the kittens, nor Miranda, had found their furever homes and families. Although three others of the Purrfect Pals adult cats did find homes - according to John, that is the equivalent of 6 kitten re-homings, so that was good.

However, the next day saw Corey adopted and on 11th June news came that Cassidy and Casey had also been adopted. On Tuesday Cagney also found a new home.

So now there is just Miranda Mama Cat left - waiting patiently as the notice says on the Kitten Cam.

Miranda - photo from Purrfect Pals-Everett PetSmart FB page

The weekend is coming and I gather that there is another adoption event with 20 plus kittens and older cats. I do so hope that Miranda finds someone to take her home and love her as much as I'm sure she will love them. She is so sweet and full of character, not much more than a kitten herself. Her details can be found here. As can those of the other cats who are still awaiting loving homes.

Although it is a bit different over here in the UK, our last two cats were adopted from the local Cats' Protection League. They were a mother and daughter, Selene and Hecate. Together, they brought great joy and laughter into our lives, and although Selene now lies buried in the garden, the memories live on, as does her daughter, and her mischievous ways!

If you live in the area local to Miranda, and are looking for some companionship in your life, why not pay a visit to the Everett PetSmart? She, and the others, are all there, patiently waiting to bring joy and love into their future homes.  

And all best wishes and Healing Vibes to John for a speedy and easy recovery to his knee. We Kitten Cam addicts are all ready and waiting for the next set of foster kittens, and we know they won't be there until he is healed enough to look after them with his usual care and dedi-cat-ion.   Thank you so much, John, for allowing us to watch your little fosters as they flourish in your care, and for the pleasure this brings as we view their antics as they grow.

Edited to add: It looks as if Miranda has a prospective Cat Slave already lined up - hooray!

"Sophisti-cat-ed iPad Kittens" page created in Craft Artist using the Digiscrapbooking Boutique's "Old Treasures Collab" kit.



Monday, 21 May 2012

Mental Health Awareness Week

Hi Everyone,

This week, 21st to 27th May, is Mental Health Awareness Week here in the UK.

There is a lot going on in the world, more than enough to stress even the most laid-back amongst us. Mental health issues  are often considered something to be ashamed of, something we don't want the world to know about.

Yet recently on the Daisytrail forum there was the Heads Up  challenge run to bring the impact of mental health to the fore. It brought to light the fact that, for many people, anxiety and stress plays a very big role in their lives. Some can live with it, but for others it makes things very difficult.

This was the page I made for the challenge.

The page was made with Craft Artist and the kit used was one designed by Mazza, called "Heads Up".

If you go to the challenge page you will see other pages all crafted with  the specially designed kit and read the moving stories associated with many of those pages.

I've been through a couple of deep, dark episodes in my life, so have an inkling of how this can affect all aspect of your life. However, it can only be the merest inkling, because fortunately for me these episodes were a direct response to external stressors, events and triggers; and once those were resolved, my normal sunny temperament was able to re-emerge into the light.

For many people however, this is a long, on-going, or recurrent thing, with little obvious cause to pin down and work on. I cannot even begin to think about how difficult this must be for those who are affected in this way to try and live a "normal", whatever that is, life.

One thing that became apparent  is that there is a huge amount of love and support in the Daisytrail community, and it is lovely to be a part of that.

Another thing is that the ability to be creative does seem to help in many ways, so the digi-crafting addiction appears, in fact, to be a good thing.

For further information and help you might like to visit the Mental Health Foundation.



Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Happy Memories of Selene - First Anniversary

Hi Everybody,

It's hard to believe that a year has sped by so fast - going at warp speed, I think.

A year ago today we had to take our little Selene for that final vet visit. Today I'm remembering some of the good memories she left behind.

Created in Craft Artist, the photos are all from my personal library and the background is a blending of a photo of Selene's grave in the garden, with the protected catnip plant coming back into life, hence the upturned basket, and a photo of Selene's rainbow.

I've been hooked on watching a lovely Livestream site - The Kitten Cam. The noises the Mama cat are so sweet and remind me of the sounds that Selene used to make in the early days when she was still feeding Hecate. 

I'm getting terribly distracted from other things with this. But as I've been feeling broody for kitties again lately, and we can't really bring any newcomers in because it would stress Pyewacket out, this is the next best thing. 

Hecate is still bouncing around almost as much as if she was still the kitten in the photo, and all around the catnip basket the ground is flattened and I don't try to grow anything there as a lot of the cats around love to go and have a 'nip fix there.

WARNING - if you have other things you should be doing - Do NOT visit the Kitty Cam. Smiley Faces



Friday, 20 April 2012

Fun with Photo Masks Frames - a Tutorial for Craft Artist

Hi Everyone,

I can't believe how fast the year is flying by! Almost the end of April already!

The last week has certainly flown by as I decided I'd have another go at making a video tutorial, this time on making photo mask frames using Serif's Craft Artist software.

My interest was piqued by a post in the DaisyTrail forum and I was soon having a little play around with the various methods suggested.

I've been told in the past that one of the best ways of learning about a subject is to have a go at teaching it to others, and this does help things to sink into my brain.

So once again, following my first stab at this almost a year ago now, with my Word Art Frames Tutorial for Serif Craft Artist/DSA, I have had another go at producing a video tutorial and accompanying PDF transcript, available as a direct download.

I know that I tend to watch video tutorials through once, and then go through again as many times as it takes to jot down notes. So I thought I'd do that for you, as I've already made all the notes to ensure I covered everything.

In fact, there was no way I could get everything in to a 15 minute video so this time there are two parts to this tutorial - Part One, and Part Two.

If I tell you the pdf runs to 20 pages, this probably gives you a good idea as to why I don't use Twitter..... Although a lot of space IS taken up with screen captures.

It took me very much longer than I anticipated; far longer and many more "takes" than the first one, but then I did have two recordings to make, so more scope for goofs. I have to confess that sometimes the language was rather less than lady-like as I hit the recording off button .... Smiley Faces

Because there was more, the notes were longer too. I have, however, learned about the Windows 7 Snipping Tool - what a wonderful little thing to do screen captures with!

These are some of the pages I have made while trying this out.

Hecate Tree Cat

Jasper and Me

Remembering Solstice

I do hope you enjoy the videos and the pdf tutorial and find them useful. I'd be interested in any feedback so that future ventures can be tweaked if needs be. If you have any problems or queries then please do leave a note in the comments.

When watching the video, if you find the view looks blurry (I thought my eyes had finally given up on me) go to the "Change Quality" setting, the little cog at the lower right of the screen, at the opposite end to where you maximise / minimise the screen, and push it up to 1080p HD. That sharpens things up.

Other tutorials for Craft Artist, and DSA2, can be found on the Serif You Tube Channel, and also on the Daisytrail website here



EDIT - PLEASE NOTE This tutorial was made in CraftArtist Professional 1. Unfortunately the serif transparent bitmap is no longer available in CraftArtist Professional 2.

I have now added a link to a place where a workaround can be found on the You Tube site.

If you visit the Daisytrail site forum, this Masks thread gives you a suitable workaround. 

Personally, I prefer to use the second method in the Part One tutorial (Alfred's "recipe") or the method that I talk about on the Part Two video (Janine's "recipe") - both give softer edges and more control, and no need for serif transparent bitmap. :-)

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Another New Freebie Kit from Sandie

Hi Everyone,

My friend Sandie has been at it again - producing yet another gorgeous freebie kit.

This one is called Blossom, and is lovely for spring-based projects and pages. As soon as I saw it I knew I had to have a quick little play. I changed the colour of the frame and applied an effect, and inserted a photo from the garden of this beautiful butterfly.

As I use Craft Artist, I downloaded the pack file for that, but Sandie also has a zip file available for use in other programmes.

This beautiful kit comes with 23 embellishments,  15 Backgrounds papers, one of which is made from  a watercolour of daffodils by Sandie's own hand (I'm very envious of her ability; I wish I could produce decent watercolours ), 6 frames, some wordart and a couple of papers and layouts.

I love it, Sandie. And I'm sure others will too, so don't hesitate - go and snag it straight away.



The Fairies in Our Garden...

Hi Everyone,

At Daisy Trail a new set of challenges have come along, Beginner's and All Tutorial Challenges, run by Sunset.

I've been using DSA2 and then, more recently, Craft Artist since July 2010, but there is still a huge amount that I don't know about regarding the capabilities of the programme I use.

So these challenges are nice to participate in, the aim being to build up our knowledge as we go along.

In actual fact, the biggest challenge for me so far is to keep things quite simple, and not play about with the things I do already know about.

I'm just putting together a page for the third challenge, Add an Edge, but I was really ever so chuffed to find that my last page was chosen on Tuesday as the second choice of three in the Add a Frame challenge.

The kit I used was Fairy Garden from Daisy Trail. The background was a Quick Page tinted from the photo using the colour picker and I used Curlz MT font. Hmmm, interesting to note that the upload to DT didn't include the textured overlay (from Trulytango) which shows quite clearly here.

The photo was one of our garden taken in 2004. It doesn't look like that now, and I'm not just talking about it being winter and dormant. Hopefully this year it will look better after the work I did in it last year, plus we are planning on relocating one of our ponds, the taddy pond.

So that is something to keep us occupied, once the weather turns warmer and fairer, although it will mean even less crafting time....



Friday, 3 February 2012

Spring cleaning starting early....

Hi Everyone,

It has been a busy couple of weeks. All I seemed to have been doing is painting (DIY sort, not arty) as we were having new stair and upper hall carpet and bathroom flooring laid and I decided it would be best, and safest, to get the old flooring up early and take the opportunity to paint the skirting before the new was put down.

On top of that, my OH has made us a bespoke TV unit to house the TV and all its associated bits and bobs to fit in the corner. That needed countless coats of paint as well.

On Sunday I decided to take a break from painting and finally get around to sorting the wardrobe and drawers. After 4 hours I had 4 sacks of stuff for the charity bag collection the next morning, and 2 large bags of stuff not suitable for passing on, plus a smaller bag of all sorts of odd things that I had kept squirrelled away for heaven knows what reasons, which all needed to go to the tip.

I felt quite pleased with myself now I had enough coat hangers to put everything away instead of piling up on the bedroom shelves.

Finally I was able to have a bit of time for myself and decided I'd make up a page for Imbolc, an ancient festival celebrated between the 1st and 2nd of February. I'm slowly putting together an album of the old festivals that occur in cycle as the year turns on its course, and this was fun to do.

I picked up a lot of information from, and another site I found interesting was Spiritblogger's Blog.

It looks as if the spring-cleaning bit had come to me somewhat early.

There is still some painting left to do. Now we have new flooring in the bathroom the OH can get a new bath panel put in, which will need painting, so the rest of the bathroom will end up with a new fresh coat so it all blends in.

Keeps me out of mischief, I suppose. Trouble is, it does eat into crafting time.....

Pages created with Serif Craft Artist.   Elements are all made from images from Morguefile - Snowdrops - karpati; Greenfinger; hotblack; acrylicartist; Snowdrops and Winter Aconite - kfjmiller and images from Flickr - Snowdrops - dichoecho (CCby2.0); amandabhslater (CCbySA); Snowdrops in the wood - amandabhslater (CCbySA); Winter Aconite - MarilynJane (CCby2.0); anemoneprojectors (CCbySA); Candles - Smabs Sputzer (CCby2.0); echiner1 (CCbySA).



Sunday, 22 January 2012

Chinese New Year of the Dragon

Hi Everyone,

January 23rd 2012 sees the start of the Chinese New Year, this year being the Year of the Black Water Dragon.

It sounds like it could be an interesting and packed year. A lot of what I have read about this Year of the Dragon suggests it is a very auspicious year. If you would like to learn more you can find some links at Debbie McDougall's,  a fellow Reiki-Master/Teacher's site in her latest January Newsletter Extra.

After the year we have just had I'm hoping that 2012 is indeed going to be a fabulous, much more positive year! I'm certainly not in the "It's the end of the world" camp.

This was a fun page to do. It was created with Serif Craft Artist. I used AmarieVeanne - Dragon images brushes; The Dragon kanji came from Squidoo; the Chinese Happy New Year symbols came from Judy Meibusch

I made the background myself using the plasma fill in Craft Artist (I use the full Craft Artist Professional version), and Paint.NET effects. I also made my own CA effects for the dragons and kanji.

I'll leave you wishing you all Gong Xi Fa Ca! which is the traditional Chinese New Year greeting meaning “wishing you prosperity” in Mandarin.


Friday, 20 January 2012

My friends have been busy with more freebies...

Hi Everyone,

There was me saying just the other day to some people that I've done so well this winter by not getting a cold, and the very next day I go down with a throat lurgy!

I thought I was doing well and had got rid of it after 48 hours, but a few days later it came back and bit me again, so now I have a very tiny voice and the cough makes me sound like a dog barking. Free Basic Smileys

Still, I have had some fun things to do to take my mind off it all. Two of my digicrafting friends have been busy on their second freebie kits.

Sandie's is a beautiful one for all those interested in their family heritage, who would like to plot their family trees and decorate their family history pages.  You can get her freebie Family Tree Mini Kit from her blog.

Created with Serif Craft Artist using Sandie's Family Tree Kit

It has some lovely embellishments (28) and papers (8) in it. It was great fun to use.

I was delighted to find a small photo album a few days ago that had been put "safely" away many months ago. Heaven only knows why I put it in the drawer I found it in - I have been looking for it for ages because it has some very special photos of particular importance to me.

As is often the case in this sort of thing it was a happy happenstance that it came to light. Earlier in the week I had been watching recordings of the delightfully enthusiastic Sheena Douglass on Create and Craft demonstrating the Luminarte Twinkling H2Os. She had a cracking good idea for storage, utilizing old CDs and the spindle they come on.

I have quite a few of these pots from a number of years ago, which I haven't used much. Seeing how Sheena used them I have been motivated into hunting them out and giving them another go to make up decorative papers that hopefully I can scan in and use as backgrounds.

I knew I had some old CDs salted away that I could use to glue them to. Rifling through the second drawer I found them. While searching through the first drawer I thought they were in, I found my photo book. Yay! Thanks Sheena!

So now I shall find some time over the weekend to scan these photos in, and I'm thinking that Sandie's kit will be a nice one to use to make them into pages.

Krystal has released her new Steampunk Freebie Kit just this evening.  It has 18 papers and 105 elements - she did say it was going to be smaller this time around.

 Tempus fugit -  Created  with Serif Craft Artist using Krystal's Steampunk Kit
This is another gorgeous kit to play with if you like steampunk. It's not a genre that I have played with much, although I do have a few kits knocking about. I'm really quite pleased with how this page has turned out. I think there will be more in the offing.

I have another freebie kit of my own to post in the very near future. It is set up for Craft Artist at the moment but I need to convert it to jpg and png so it can be used in other design programmes.

So watch this space......