Confessions of an impulse traveller

Sometimes I think I am a bit like Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. I seem to be peaceful and happy (or at least settled) and then I am caught by a sudden feeling, I need to go, I have to find somewhere to explore, I just cannot stay here any longer, I have to move.

A couple of years ago I had been working quite hard for some time when the need struck me, so I had a look on the internet for something silly to do, and I found it: I bought a ticket for a concert of a group I didn’t even know very well. In Glasgow. And it was such fun! I really liked the city and the concert was brilliant! I was even so lucky that Glasgow was sunny for almost the whole of my stay, and locals told me it is rare 🙂

I really liked Glasgow, it is not really beautiful, but I loved the lively atmosphere and I loved the fact that there were so many events to choose from, and the people were friendly.

The funny thing is that, as soon as I got the concert and the plane tickets, I got an announcement saying the band had scheduled new dates, one of them right close to where I live two weeks after the Glasgow gig… My mum’s comment: “Well, you can go to that one too” And I actually did.

When I am traveling I am a very random person, I can decide to do something on a whim, or just because I hear someone saying it can be interesting… Once I was in Denmark, I bought a book and I started reading it and I was enjoying it so much that I decided to visit Esbjerg, the place on the Jutland coast where the author lived for a while. When I arrived at the train station I had a look around and thought it was not so interesting after all, so I got onto the next train back and stopped in Odense. It was really lucky I did, because at the hostel that night I met a girl who was to become one of my best friends!

Now I am feeling a little restless, I think I can feel spring is approaching even under the coat of snow that has just covered my area… Any suggestion of something silly to do in Europe?

Funny things happen when you’re around

I was browsing through some old pictures recently and I came across some taken during a walk on Hadrian’s Wall in Northern England. I clearly remember that day: the weather was gorgeous and I was with a couple of dear friends, I can still see the sun shining on the long blonde hair of one of them.

A gentle breeze was blowing and it was really pleasant to walk beside (and on) the ancient ruins, we stopped for a snack and some tea (so very English) and we looked at the sheep in the distant fields. We talked about Robin Hood, the movie with Kevin Costner, which was filmed partly in the area, and about the sycamore featured in one of the scenes.

The scenery was grand and there weren’t many people around. We reached a pub in a tiny village and had Sunday Roast, the veggies were lovely and we were having a good time. And then it happened.

We were about to leave the place when a couple of new customers came in. Completely naked except for the walking boots and huge backpacks. And weird as it may sound, they took a seat and got two pints. An old gentleman looked at me and commented: “They come in of all kinds in here…” and turned back to his pint.

And we were off.

But my question lingers: if they don’t wear clothes what on earth do they carry in the huge backpack??

Fogging Fog Fogs Up My Week-End

Aside

Last week the weather was gorgeous, sunny, mild (for winter). My friends and I had plans for the week-end, we wanted to go to a venue about 45 km from here, it was all set and it sounded promising.

Then I woke up on Saturday ‘morning’ (well, let’s say it was morning) and, looking out of the window, I thought it was me, maybe I had forgotten my glasses? It was all white and I could barely see the tree out of my window… I knew we were not going to make it, the fog would stay… I know 45 km is not much, but with that kind of wall to see through, it would take forever. I cursed all the cursable.

But here’s what is left behind:

The white icy coat is quite impressive and one of the nicest features of a dull season like winter, I like the contrast with the black trunks, it looks as if it were staged, but these are not black-and-white pictures.

Mono Lake

Last summer I set off for my very first trip to the USA. I have been around a fair bit, but somehow I had never set my foot in the land of the free, it was just about time to do it.

I had an idea of what I wanted to do and to see, but I don’t like planning too much, so I had quite a random time out there, especially because I rented a car, so I depended only on my stamina at driving and my slight tendency to get lost at times…

Well, to cut a long story short I ended up spending a couple of nights in a hotel on Mammoth Mountain near Mono Lake, which I hadn’t even known existed before seeing it on the map.

After a long day out trekking in the mountains, hearing the roar of bears in the distance and suddenly remembering I was carrying jerk beef in the backpack, I decided I wanted to see the lake.

I had read that it is the last vestige of volcanic activity in the area and, since it has no outlet, its water is very alkaline and saline – a bit like the Dead Sea. Worth seeing, isn’t it? On top of that, unique wildlife lives there, such as alkali flies, a special brine shrimp which is the food of the migrating birds nesting on the island in the lake, and even bacteria that can metabolise arsenic. I didn’t see any of that, but still the memories will stay with me forever.

I went there to have a look at the tufa towers, the limestone formations typical of the lake.

When I arrived the sun was setting in a perfectly clear dark blue sky, there were only a handful of people around, the plain was huge around us, surrounded by the Sierra. It was so magical, so beautiful, that it didn’t even seem real. While I was there I kept thinking that I wanted to stay a while, but it all was so short that it seems like a dream now. I think I will never go back, as it will never live up to that moment – a bit like a good love story, there’s no going back for seconds.

Cards. Gimme More.

As you may have gathered I am in a “card moment” right now. I have created some interesting ones for Christmas using a white background with green and red accents, which – I think – looks cheerful but not brash.

So here’s the first one: Nesting Squares again, Craft Concepts’ Merry Christmas embossing folder, Quickutz ornament die.

 

For this one I used the card die from the Quickutz Spring Special Delivery set, the Sizzix Christmas embossing folder and the Quickutz Doublecutz Gift die.

 

Sorry for the pics, lighting is less than perfect…

Quickutz Rehab Ahead

I have loved playing with paper and crafting in general ever since I was a little girl. I cannot remember where I got a hint of the existence of origami from, but I clearly remember that I asked my parents for an origami book for my 7th or 8th birthday. That interest has never faded, even if sometimes a long period goes by without me touching the nice 6″ squares…

The things I fold have changed over time and now I like flowers a lot, especially because you can easily arrange them around the house; and boxes. I like the challenge of folding many modules and then assembling them without using glue or anything, like a 3-D jigsaw – well the truth is sometimes they make me crazy and I start a cursing fit, but the results are always worth it.

Some years ago I was visiting Edinburgh and I saw a Fiskars Mini Shape Boss in a craft store. I was immediately intrigued and thought I could make good use of it to make decorated cards, and that was the start of my love affair with dry embossing.

The process with Shape Boss is completely manual: you have different stencils and a stylus and you create the designs. The advantage is that it’s very versatile, as you can decide which part of the stencil to use and you can create different arrangements, however it’s very time consuming and tiring when you make several cards.

I really like the look of dry embossing, so I even bought the Texture Plates and Texturing Tool, but that proved to be less than ideal for texturing large surfaces.

I also got some punches with different shapes to make my cards more interesting, but I always felt that the limits were too tight.

Then along came the Cuttlebug! I got this again as a birthday present and I thought I was going to use it mostly for embossing using the folders. The choice was huge and I spent hours browsing eBay stores looking at all those interesting designs and that’s how I got to know Quickutz/Lifestyle Crafts.

I needed some basic shapes that I could use to cut cardboard into card bases (you see, I live in a small town in Italy and card making is not such a popular hobby around here) and I came across the different Nesting Shapes, which I preferred over the Spellbinders as there are more sizes in one set. And that was it, I was hooked! Quickutz design style really appeals to me, as it’s simple yet “adult”, quirky sometimes. Now I have entered a tunnel where I keep buying cutting dies as they are so cute and may, some day, be useful and you find them cheap online…

I need rehab.