Posted on March 18, 2013 in Oddities, The Home Front by Jay16 Comments »


Oooooooh … hi there! So sorry, I’m running to catch up today and I know I’m horribly late, but here I am with this week’s Macro Monday!!

I think it might be quite a fun one this week though. What do you say?

Clues you want? Impatient you are!

Oh, OK then. Let’s see …

This is a part of something that an awful lot of people across the globe have these days. I know I have some from Italy and from a couple of other countries, thus proving they have them there and they look just like ours! Anyway. These things are quite useful. This one is actually quite pretty, too, though most aren’t.

Could you live without them? Certainly! Weeks can go by without me using one, though right now I admit I use one most days.

If you have some idea what it might be, pop your answer in the comments box and – like last week and the week before – I’ll come along from time to time to ‘encrypt’ your reply to make it just a tad more difficult to read for those coming after you.

You should also consider going along to Lisa’s Chaos to see other Macro Monday entries, because some are just spiffing.

And of course, pop back tomorrow evening (Tuesday) to see what the answer is. I’ll be posting a link to the bigger picture at that time. Have fun!

I win! I win!! Seems not a single one of you could guess this one. Actually I’m a bit sad about that, because I aim to have between a quarter and a half of you guess correctly, which still means I win, but it also means that you’ve been given a sporting chance!

Oh well. It was my turn to win, I think, with a couple of weeks of 100% wins to you lot recently!

Anyway, if you’d like to see what it was so you can all kick yourselves soundly, go here!

Now tell me you don’t have a ton of these lying around the house! Really. It’s just that it’s the sort of thing that people don’t really look at!

Thanks for playing and being good sports – see you next week!


The secret to being happy is to find small things every day that please you, amuse you, or bring warmth to your heart and feed your soul.  Small things: a blue sky, an early flower, a gently placed paw.  Stuff like that.

This week has been a real uppy-downer.   A high, when we went to see another scan of our twin grand-babies, yet to be born.  A gut-wrenching low when I heard of a deliberate injury to a greyhound in a pet home.

But the highs and lows are not what it’s all about, are they?  If we surf the crests and fall into the troughs, we feel helpless.   However, if we find a good, strong and steady current which takes us the way we want to go, we are buoyed up and can steer our way.

Gently placed paws there have been, and head bumps and nose nudges and sheer bouncy delight when we come home. There have been blue skies and wonderful stormy light effects, we’ve had sprinklings of magical snow without it settling and causing problems.  I have been able to eat chocolate!  And one morning, I woke a little early and thought that something was strange … and then I realised; I didn’t hurt anywhere!*  This is such a rare thing for me that I lay there savouring the sensation until my body woke up too, and a niggling ache began in my hip followed by the beginnings of tension in my neck.  But it was so lovely, while it lasted, and it’s a pity I can’t photograph that for you.

Anyway.  what I do have is those two little tiny baby hats up there, plus this one:


It’s been a long, long time since I crocheted anything, so I had to search for my hooks and remind myself how to do it.  It wasn’t helped by the fact that I used an American pattern, and the trouble with that is that the terms are all very familiar … except that they mean different things!  So when an American pattern tells me to make a single crochet, I have to mentally translate that as ‘make a double crochet’, and if it says ‘two double crochets’, I have to make two trebles.

But look!  Despite choosing a chenille yarn and an American pattern for my first venture in decades, I have managed to make two tiny purple hats! Plus one larger yellow/pink/white one in an evil yarn called ‘Sprinkles’ which ensures that you can’t see a single stitch while you’re working because of all the little projections which stick out in all directions.

They’re not perfect (trust me, there are a lot of small mistakes under the sprinkles of the large one), but I think they will do.

The purple yarn was super soft, and crocheting is always a soothing activity, but it gave me enormous pleasure to sew these little beanie hats up and see what I’d made from nothing.

Creativity is one of the most important of those ‘little pleasures’ for me.  A blue sky is uplifting, a crackling fire is comforting, but creating something feeds the soul.

I’m convinced it lowers the blood pressure, too!

Do join in with ‘How to be HAPPY!’ if you would like to. Take a photo, illustrating something which made you smile this week and link back to here.


* I have fibromyalgia.  Very boring.



Another difficult one to interpret. Yesterday

However, I thought I’d have a go at digital collage and do something quirky. OK, so it might be a bit hackneyed, but you know they say: ‘Yesterday is dead and gone’.

And so it is. Every dawn, a new day is minted. Every sunset, the light dies. As each twenty-four hours rolls around, and the earth completes another spin in its journey around the sun, another day is brought into being and then destroyed, and another takes its place.

What else can we say about yesterday? Yesterday is history. Yesterday is a memory. Yesterday is gone. Well, that all fits with a gravestone analogy, doesn’t it?

So, how did I do this one? Well, it was fairly simple, really. A background, a fabricated picture of a gravestone, and some creative lettering and lighting effects in Photoshop Elements.

In my files, I had a wonderfully atmospheric photograph taken at a local SSSI* and nature reserve called Hills and Holes, so named because it literally is all small hillocks and hollows – these were the excavations and spoil heaps from the days when it used to be a quarry. Some say it was first used by the Romans, but it was certainly there in medieval times, and we do know that the stone for Peterborough and Ely cathedrals came from here. It’s a wonderful place, being one of this area’s few surviving limestone meadows, and it has some interesting wildlife and some very rare plants. In the spring, when those rare plants are blooming, various parts are roped off so people don’t trample them, and you’re likely to trip over any of a dozen or so photographers, lying prone, trying to get a good shot of a Pasque Flower or an Early Purple Orchid.

The little tussocks you can see in the photo are actually the homes of the yellow meadow ant, and many are over 100 years old. Impressive, huh?

In the autumn, the hollows are often filled with mist giving the whole place a very eerie feel. Other times, the air is clear, but there’s a strange quality to the light – and that’s what I used here. Actually, this is one of the ‘flat’ bits, but I think it’s just hummocky enough to make it look ancient. Which, of course, it is.

I cut out the shape of a gravestone from Morguefile, and used it as a template to cut a layer from a large picture of a flat rock face, thus avoiding the original lettering on the headstone. Then I duplicated the layer and moved it slightly out of alignment to give it a 3-D appearance, lightening the underneath one so that the edges stood out. The typeface is Arial Black for the lettering, which I made transparent, and then used a ‘sharp pillow’ embossing effect to make it look as if it had been chiselled into the stone. Lastly, I added some directional lighting.

It was necessary to ‘move’ some of the grass to make it look as if the gravestone was actually embedded into the ground, too. Apart from that, and adjusting the lighting levels and contrast of the two images so that they matched before combining them, that was it.

The gravestone doesn’t look particularly new, which was deliberate. Although the date on the stone is that of the day before the Illustration Friday prompt was published (to try to fit well with that theme), I wanted to give the impression of ‘yesterday’ as a concept. I quite like the way the land forms a bowl shape behind the gravestone, and hopefully, this gives the impression that it’s being drawn backwards, away from you. Into the mists of time, as it were.

Yeah, that sounds a bit fanciful, doesn’t it? Forget I said anything!

I’d be interested to know what you think. To me, it kind of feels like cheating to do a digital collage, but it was something I wanted to try, having seen some very clever ones on Illustration Friday.

Posted on March 11, 2013 in Oddities by Jay10 Comments »


Here’s the new Macro Monday guessing game for this week. Do you know what it is already? Mmmm … maybe!

This is a small part of a common enough object. Most homes have one or two. They all do the same job, and though they don’t all look like this, most of them do, with just a few design differences. Put it this way: there are other designs, but I haven’t seen one for a long time.

Well, do you have an answer? If so, pop it into the comment box and – as per my new policy – I will edit it so that I know what you meant but it’ll be a tad more difficult for other people to read it.

Have fun! And when you’re done thinking, take a look at the other Macro Monday entries on Lisa’s Chaos. Most of them are much better photos than mine and cover a huge variety of topics.

Oh, and if you can’t guess, or want to see if you were right, come back tomorrow evening (that’s Tuesday around 10pm UK time) and I’ll post the answer in the form of a picture link.

Now, that’s more like it! Some of you got it right, some didn’t! Perfect!

So who guessed correctly? Well, the first was Genji’s Corner! Congratulations to you, our winner for this week.

Congratulations also to Lori, of What Remains Now, and Babs, and lastly Those Brindle Kids! I think it was one of the more difficult ones I’ve given you lately, so well done, all of you!

Those who need to see it for themselves – whether your name is in the winner’s list or not – can pop along here and check it out. Simple when you know, isn’t it?

I hope you’ll all pop back next week for another go. Thanks for playing!