Friday, 21 December 2012

Christmas Crafting Challenge

Almost my entire crafting stash - along with almost all of my belongings - has been "safely and securely in storage in an ex-dairy in Peckham" (if I have a pound for every time I've said that …) since July pending the completion of building works on my "new" (mid-17th century) home, which will include a craft studio in the garden: both with glorious country views. Somehow, the first lot of builders never quite got round to starting, let alone finishing … but fingers crossed for the new crew from early-January.

This somewhat unsatisfactory situation has caused no end of "challenges" and frustrations and as the days, weeks and months passed by I began to fear that I'd have to resort to buying Christmas cards … or not sending any. Neither option was palatable to me, so at the end of November I gritted my teeth and challenged myself to come up with a straightforward design. One that could be easily and quickly produced, using only the few bits of stash that I'd fairly randomly selected in the hasty packing up of my old home (exchange to moving out in less than a week … utter madness: don't do it.) I didn't quite manage any of that: the design got a bit complex, I had to buy a few key things, the prototype took ages to produce … and then I found I'd run out of double-sided tape. So, it was Monday 10 December before I made the first card … The last posting dates for Australia and Canada had passed, the European one was fast approaching and even the UK deadline was only nine days away. Oh, and I was going to be away from home for three nights that week. For the first time ever, I managed to get organised enough to take some crafting stuff away with me and so was able to spend a happy few late night hours finishing the first dozen, while liberally coating a London hotel room in glitter, which was a nice addition to my face and jeans, the fireside rug and the ever non-complaining cat.

The shortage of daylight hours meant I had little time to colour match. Usually, this wouldn't have been much of a problem thanks to my marvellous natural daylight OttLite, but - you've guessed it - it's "safely and securely in storage in an ex-dairy in Peckham". (It's very important, by the way, to consider the architectural features and history of the building when choosing where to lock up one's belongings!) As a result, one of the cards that is mainly green has ended up with bluish gems but it's probably only me that's noticed. Certainly my mother didn't when I gave it to her … but she might have been being maternally polite and supportive as she's the one who really knows the anxiety that being separated from my stash has caused me. I've always said that crafting makes a huge contribution to my mental stability and the last few months without this opportunity have really proved it.

What I definitely couldn't have managed without were the Oh Come All Ye Crafters paper download collections from Funky Hand. I think I probably used all of them, making four cards in two different colourways from each … and then, as I got more confident, I moved on to their Papercraft Factory Twelve Crafters Crafting collection and picked the more unusual - and less traditionally festive - colour combinations.

Eight days later - six, really, if you exclude the two non-crafting days in London - I had 56 cards finished … and, amazingly, most of them written. As I'd posted several as I went along, - and, despite the dire warnings from the pessimistic woman in the King's Cross Post Office, the last one to Greece made it in less than a week - I didn't have to a chance to enjoy them all in their entirety, which was a bit disappointing. However, on the plus side, this avoided the usual feeling I stupidly get of being traumatised at the thought of being parted from any of them!

The design was far too complicated … but I needed to find something that was satisfying and although I tried it without the diagonal banner, which was very fiddly and comprised of four different layers, it just didn't feel enough. If I'm being really picky, then I wish the snowflake topper had been a little bit bigger: but I was constrained by the size of punches that were available to me. Since the papers were going to be the stars of the cards, I splashed out on some Crafters Companions Satin Finish Printer Paper, which made a huge difference with its subtle sheen. Although at 100 gsm I worried that it might mean the cards were too thick and/or heavy to get away with a normal stamp … but a really delightful woman in the Kingland High Street Post Office measured and weighed my prototype and reassured me on that front.

And, if I had any lingering doubts about the difference that running a faded black inkpad around the edges of mats and layers makes, I never will again after seeing what a lift it gave to them all, even the almost entirely black printed papers. Just getting rid of that tiny hint of white on the cut edge is a big (and important) part of it … but it's the little - even occasionally smudgy - border on the front that is the total transformer. Getting the resultant ink off my fingers, face, jeans, rug and the cat was another challenge …

So, probably the hugest crafting challenge I've ever faced, but one that I'm so glad I didn't duck, really enjoyed undertaking (after the first four, which proved to me that the design worked) and feel pride and pleasure at having completed. A tiny bit of me wishes that I hadn't used such an effective and simple design for my Christmas Card Forest last year, as that would have been great for this year's circumstances, but I had and there was no way I could've repeated it … someone other than me would have noticed, surely?

So, next year? Well, hopefully, with a dedicated - and fully equipped - studio in the garden due to be finished by late-Spring, it will all be a whole lot more relaxed, get started sooner and place no limits or restraints on my imagination and design … Who knows what that might result in? Watch this space …

Monday, 23 July 2012

Just A Number

This month's Get Funky! Challenge (as set by Jackie) feels like a particularly bossy one: "use a large number" and "no images of any kind" were among the instructions, along with the basic one to use at least one Funky Hand paper. However, not a bad one for me, as I need to make a couple of 70th birthday cards for men. Not having to struggle to find appropriate images feels rather liberating.

My Funky Hand papers came from the Birthday Dude collection of the Happy Happy Birthday Papercraft Factory CD. I used the sentiment paper (printed full A4 size) for the background and then four of the five woven-effect papers (each reduced to A6 and printed together on a single sheet) for the "ribbons" around the rosette. A bit of purple pearlescent card and pale turquoise corrugate card from my stash added some texture. The "70" (which, I admit, isn't all that large) was stamped in black ink and then heat embossed with sparkly black embossing powder.

The "ribbons" are 8 mm strips of paper, cut to 5 cm in length and stuck onto a circle of card. I thought about inking the edges all the way around them but that felt too fiddly, so I settled for just inking the ends with black after I'd randomly angle cut their ends.

The "Happy Birthday" banner down the left hand side was a last minute addition to cover up where the ink had smudged. I have a feeling that I didn't using the right sort of paper for my printer … but it might just have been that my hands weren't entirely dry after I'd attempted to wash off the liberal coating of black ink that they'd picked up along the way.

The second card, which I actually made first, has - so far - survived trauma by ink smudge, so I've left it without the additional sentiment banner. It uses papers from the "Cake Anyone" collection on the same CD. I think I know which card I intend to send to which birthday boy, but I've got about three weeks in which to change my mind (probably several times over).

Not an entirely successful card-making session, but my first for ages and I'm glad I gave it a go. My inspiration felt a bit slow - but perhaps that's because the English summer has at last arrived and it's about 28°. As well as getting involved in a challenge again and getting these two cards done, it was an attempt to distract myself from the distress of England's abysmal cricket performance at The Oval (which ended in the inevitable huge defeat just after I finished the cards) and the on-going anxiety of whether today would actually (after getting on for six weeks) be the day on which the contract was exchanged on my house sale. The latter didn't actually happen - surprise, surprise: not - but the purchaser does at last seem to have agreed to a completion date, which although far from convenient for me, is probably achievable.

Now I have to face the trauma of packing up my craft stash and putting all of it - bar the essentials - in storage for a few months while the building work on my new home is completed. Nigh on impossible to decide what is and isn't a crafting essential, but I have one fairly modest sized box into which they will have to fit. Trouble is, I had to open at least ten boxes to find the bits to make these fairly simple cards. In the long-term, my new home will have a dedicated craft studio with gorgeous open countryside views so I'm holding on to the thought that the eventual outcome will be worth the not inconsiderable pain and anguish it's taking to get there!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Weekend (Summer) Winners: Part 2

So, just as England's winter of cricket ended, the English "summer" of cricket began. The first day of the County Championship was Thursday 5 April 2012 and it dawned, dull, damp and cold … so different from Friday 8 April 2011, which was bright, warm, sunny and dry.

Start of Season 2011
Start of Season 2012

Oh well, it's not all about the weather (well, it is quite a lot); what's more important is that Surrey are back - where they belong - in Division One. This year's plans must include challenging to be County Champions, retaining the CB40 trophy and getting through to the semi-final stages of the FL T20. This year's dreams include being County Champions, retaining the CB40 trophy and winning the FL T20. Come on, a girl can dream.

So, there I was, on a gloomy, cold Thursday morning in the first week of April with a smile on my lips as my eyes caught their first glimpse of The Oval, and hope in my heart. OK, I was wearing the traditional early-season spectating garb of jeans, socks, boots, jumpers, fleece, gloves and scarf, whereas last year I'd been in t-shirt, sandals, cropped trousers and shades, which took the edge off my joy. But just after ten o'clock, clutching a cup of piping hot black coffee, walking into the Long Room of the Members' Pavilion felt pretty good. It was also Day 3 of the second England v Sri Lanka Test match and the TV screen showed clear blue skies behind KP as he worked his way to a big century and England into an unaccustomed strong position. In contrast, outside at The Oval, the floodlights were on against a grey brooding sky. The domestic season was about to start - albeit it under artificial lighting.

It has to be said that the Long Room at The Oval does not give a great view of what's happening out on the field … but being in there does help keep hypothermia at bay. I'd have preferred to be out on the top balcony of the Pavilion or in the Peter May stand … and I know that's where I should have been … but it was just too cold.

Sussex won the toss and opted to field. Why? Surely anyone with a choice would want to be inside for as long as possible? Surrey scored at the speed of an arthritic slug and went from 9-1 to 11-2. The gloom of the sky began to invade my heart. We began to wonder if we'd reach 50 before lunch. Then the experienced hands of Mr Ramprakash and Mr de Bruyn began to tell and the score moved on, although the former fell at 79-3, and we were nearly 100 at the end of the first session.

Fifteen wickets fell on the first day: Surrey all out for 264 and Sussex 105-5 at the close. Felt as if we were just ahead. The sun came out, but without any real warmth, on Friday. Sussex were all out for 196 and Surrey reached 250-8. 300 ahead felt promising. The last two wickets took us to 273 on Saturday morning, Sussex wickets kept falling and the thought of a win inside three days popped up. Not to be: Sussex 240-8 at the close and we'd have to come back for the conclusion on Easter Sunday morning. Could it all be over in just two balls? Well, no, it took about 45 minutes but Surrey had secured their first County Championship win of the season. Loads more to come, we trust. And there we were at the top of the table … until Somerset beat Middlesex later in the day and sneaked ahead with an extra batting point.

Good solid start, strong squad with plenty of others pushing for a place, loads of optimism, keenness and commitment - and Mr Pietersen headed straight from Sri Lanka to India, where, with luck, he'll be occupied until England needs him in mid-May for the Lord's Test against the West Indies. Very glad at how well he ended his winter … but I'm much happier when Nuts is happy somewhere other than in a Surrey shirt.

Weekend (Winter) Winners: Part 1

At last - long last - England has secured a Test match win this winter. And, somehow, despite all the agony and disappointment, it seems worth waiting for. Not least, I guess, because by doing so, England has retained its Number One Test Team ranking, if only by analysis to the second decimal point or some such, over South Africa. Although, to be absolutely fair, it was only poor weather in Dunedin and Wellington that prevented South Africa from sneaking the title a few weeks ago. The two teams meet in England, albeit for only three Tests, later this summer. That should be a great contest.

After the utter misery of England's Test series against Pakistan in the UAE, they had a second chance to prove their away from home form with a two match series against Sri Lanka. The first match started well as Sri Lanka, having chosen to bat, were 15-3 very quickly. 67-4 still felt good, and 128-5 didn't suggest disaster. Sri Lanka wickets fell quite steadily but Mahela Jayawardene stayed determinedly at the crease, just as steadily amassing runs, until, when he was last out, the Sri Lanka total was 318, of which he had scored 180 (56%) himself.

Somewhat predictably, in reply England gave yet another abysmal demonstration of batting and were all out for 193 off just 46.4 overs, with Herath grabbing a great six-fer. Second time around, Sri Lanka "only" made 214 and Swannie took a six-fer himself.

England had a target of 339 and acres of time. OK, doing so would have required breaking almost every record going for successful fourth innings chases but somehow we felt that (a) we deserved it and (b) it was possible. And for a while it seemed so. Cook and Strauss went sooner than desirable (48-2) but Trott looked like replicating Jayawardene's performance and, well supported by Pietersen, Bell and Prior, kept us believing. As long as Trott was in, there was hope we felt. But with Prior out at 233-5, followed by Patel at 252-6, that flickering flame began to look rather vulnerable. Trott himself fell, having scored 112, at 256-7 and we knew that out luck had run out. Monty was last out and England were 76 runs short. It felt worse for there having been some hope.

Off to Colombo then, just a few days later, for the second match. Ravi was still carrying the drinks and being sub-fielder; Monty was left out in favour of Bresnan, who had a very impressive record for England: played 10, won 10. Perhaps he was the lucky charm we needed. Sri Lanka won the toss again and put themselves in. A similar start to the first match in Galle: two down for 21, 30-3, Sangakkara out again for a duck, and, oh yes, there was Mahela Jayawardene filling his boots again. Only 105 this time, out of a total of 275, and a "Michelle" (Pfeiffer) for Anderson, but a 2-0 loss still loomed.

Then, something close to a miracle happened: Cook and Strauss posted a century opening partnership. Strauss improved his average hugely with 61, Cook looked well set for a huge century before falling at 94, with the score at 213-2. Trott was again batting steadily, until out for 64 at 253-3. Pietersen was playing fluently, scoring at a rate of over 90 but never looking in danger. What had he had for breakfast? He and Bell put on nearly 100 for the fourth wicket (at 347) and a super-huge score looked possible. Ended up as 460, with a lead of 185. Could this be a winning position? It felt best not to think too far ahead. Concentrate on getting ten wickets. (BTW Another six-fer for Herath.)

Time passed very very slowly. Sri Lanka scored at just over two an over. The first four wickets were down for 125 and then Mahela Jayawardene and Samaraweera stuck in with a 90 run partnership that meant England would have to bat again. The England bowlers were visibly wilting in temperatures above 40 Celsius, as their frustration and desperation were palpable. Then, in the penultimate over of the day, Swann took two wickets to leave the home side on 218-6 at the close. Relief … but Jayawardene would still be at the crease in the morning.

Day 5 dawned. An achievement in itself to have got so far through a match. The sky was overcast but rain was not going to fall on England's parade. Cook dropped a catch in the first over … was this going to set the tone? The Barmy Army were in full voice, fully playing their part as England's extra man. Jayawardene reviewed an lbw decision and (what felt like) hours later was reprieved thanks to an inside edge that was invisible to everyone but him and the third umpire (and every Sri Lankan on earth). Cook dropped another catch at short leg. We began to lose faith. But, after 45 minutes of agony, Cook held one and Jayawardene was gone (with a series average of 88.5 and 354 runs). Immediate jubilation for England and another "Michelle" for Swann. The other Jayawardene was out shortly after and Swann had only his second ten wicket match. Another half hour until the ninth wicket and just moments before the lunch interval, the tenth. England need 94 to win with two sessions available. Memories of all out for 72 chasing 145 in the UAE flood back. Surely we can't have to suffer that again?

OK, the plan, of course, would be for Strauss and Cook to knock the runs off in style … but I prepared myself for less than a fairy-tale. Good job: Strauss out for a duck; England 0-1. Cook and Trott take deep breaths and get determinedly to the task. Trott falls at 31-2 and KP strides out. Positivity continues, Cook closes in on a half-century, Nuts hits a boundary, then another, only five needed. The script says KP should finish it with a six … and KP finishes it with a six! (Leaving Cook stranded on 49 but one doubts he cares.) England has won, squared the series 1-1 and retained the Number One Test ranking. Wonder what happens to the huge trophy intended for the series winners?

There's no escaping that this was an awful winter for England's batsmen and a poor performance by the Number One Test team. Something's got to be done about their inability to play spin away from home. KP's solution is to head off to India to play in the IPL with his sights on each of, one imagines, the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka starting in late-September and the tour of India at the end of the year. Not a bad plan, although perhaps not ideal preparation for facing the West Indies at Lord's in mid-May. However, it definitely keeps him away from Surrey, which is absolutely fine by me. Loved the way he played in this match, pleased for his century and the winnings runs … but he's just not my cup of tea and so not a Surrey man so I'd much rather he was performing well - and, I suggest, being happier - elsewhere.

Tim Bresnan now has a Test record of played 11, won 11. And Ravi is still being left out: surely he must be the most experienced 12th man ever? He's certainly far too good at it …

Right, now to concentrate on the England domestic season. Sooo many (simple) plans for Surrey!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Two out of Three Ain't Bad?

So England's tour "of" Pakistan - in the UAE - has concluded, and England has won two out of the three components. As the great Mr Loaf sang "Two out of Three Ain't Bad". And, on the surface, coming home with a 2-1 result doesn't look awful. Last night, as the last match ended with a last ball winner, I was happy enough to enjoy the success in a glass half full manner. It'd certainly be an OK margin by which to win a football match. However, dig a little bit deeper and it's revealed that the scoreline represents winning the ODI matches 4-0 and the T20 matches 2-1 … but losing the Test matches 0-3. And, for the Number 1 Test Team in the World - at least at the moment and then dependent upon South Africa not whitewashing New Zealand - surely it ain't good enough?

I was very excited about the tour. The first Test started on my birthday: surely that was a good omen? Clearly not. The night before, it was the thought of waking at 5.30 am for the toss and start of play thirty minutes later that kept me awake … rather than the prospect of opening birthday presents and cards well before dawn on a mid-January morning. As it was, the most pleasing thing about that first morning session, watched from the warmth of my bed with a comforting cuppa, was noticing that at one stage the score (17-1) matched the date: 17 January. I even got up before the end of the first session, such was the speed with which my hopes and anticipation had dissipated.

In all three formats of the game, the bowlers outplayed the batsmen comprehensively. But particularly in the Test matches, it just seemed as if the batsmen failed to turn up. Their approach seemed wrong: disinterested, "it's against spin what d'you expect me to do?", "someone else'll get the runs", uncommitted and wildly rash. The middle order barely fired at all: three of the most lauded players - Bell, Morgan and Pietersen- managed fewer than 200 runs in total between them. Strauss, Cook and Prior had their, albeit rare, moments - as did Trott, although as always I struggle to remember his (despite him becoming the fourth fastest England player to 2000 runs). The statistics are dismal and abysmal. England scored over 200 only twice in the series. Non-one scored a century and there were only five fifties. Prior alone averaged over 30 (helped by two not outs), Bell's average was in single figures and Pietersen and Morgan only just scraped into two figures. All three were inferior to Broad and Swann, and Bell only surpassed Panesar and Tremlett, who both batted at eleven and played only two and one matches respectively.

Having got used - eventually and only as England secured their Number One status late last summer - to England being OK - even pretty good - at cricket again, the way the three matches unfolded was reminiscent of the very bad old days and I quickly returned to expecting the worst. It was an approach proven to lessen the pain of the inevitable. I was even back to getting mildly irritated when they very occasionally - such as bowling Pakistan out for 99 in the first innings of the last match - did good … as I knew it was only going to worsen the disappointment and misery of the inevitable downturn that would swiftly follow.

Prior to the tour beginning, I was expecting England to win the Test series and that the ODIs and T20s were much less predictable, but I wouldn't have been surprised if Pakistan had had the upper hand. That it turned out to be the complete opposite is a big surprise and I'm not quite sure what it says about the state of England cricket. The one-day and T20 teams looked like teams: they played for each other and the match result. Making runs, taking wickets, fielding well mattered to them. Even KP seemed a bit fussed by his poor performance, saying, with masterful understatement after the second match, that he was "frustrated" by his form. So were we Nuts, so were we. But for once it wasn't just words and he went on to score a century in each of the last two matches (his first since 2008) and recorded a career best of 130. The four limited over matches were not all easy wins but they were convincing and the T20 series started on a high note … and quickly plummeted as the first match was lost. The team regrouped, won the second easily and took the third to an exciting/scary conclusion as Pakistan were left needing six off the last ball to win … and failed as Jade Dernbach cleaned bowled Misbah.

Three captains for the tour seemed strange but choosing the right man for each format is logical and has worked: Captain Fantastic for the Tests, his anointed successor, Captain Cook, for the ODIs - how quickly we forget that Cook came home from Australia after the marvellous Ashes victory and didn't play the limited overs matches there - and the angelic Stuart Broad for the T20s. Great to see a bowler getting a chance to lead his team. I see no reason not to continue this approach. It spreads the pressure, aids concentration and, due to the personalities of the three, gives the captain of the day the support of others as, when, if he requires.

As England fly home, and the team for the strange two match series in Sri Lanka starting in four weeks' time is announced (Morgan omitted as anticipated), how do I rate the series? Absorbing, intriguing and unexpected. Great entertainment. Played with great and respectful spirits, which has sadly not been the case recently between the two teams (don't remind me of all that time sitting at The Oval in 2006 while Pakistan refused to take the field). One worries about what needs to happen for the Test team to regain the confidence, skill, supremacy and glory of last summer, but playing on home ground is surely going to help. Will Bopara ever get a settled place in the team or is he destined to return to being the first choice name on the sheet for twelfth man? And, perhaps most surprisingly, based on how he played in the last two ODIs and the three T20s, rather than the scores he made - although they were most welcome, I'm almost ready to acknowledge KP as being worthy of the label of a Surrey man! Not that we're likely to see him play much - if at all - at The Oval this summer either.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Crafty Types

Still in a mood to combine crafting with typography, following on from my Thank You! and January Blues entries for the Get Funky! challenges, and building on the huge inspiration from Simon Garfield's book Just My Type. As planned when I made the thank you card, I adapted the mini tags design for February birthday cards for my mother and two of my friends.

The colour combinations were inspired by Funky Hand Papercraft Factory CDs again: the spotty designer papers from the Blissful Baby collection on the Colour Me Happy CD and the Come What May collection on the Craft the Year Away CD. I used colouriser software to produce plain papers matching the main colours and found co-ordinating pearlescent card and eyelets from my stash, along with thin black waxed cord.

I had such fun looking through the fonts I had recently collected from Urban Fonts to choose just the right ones for each name. They include Times New Romance, Type Block, a Papa, Algerian, An Akronism and Curlz. I struck really lucky when stumbling across Anonymous Clippings, which was perfect for the sentiment.

Most enjoyable though these cards were to make, they were fiddly and time-consuming, although I was faster when doing two together and having learned from the experience of the thank you card. They are certainly quite busy, especially as they are only A6 in size. I am really pleased with the results, which is almost exactly how I envisaged, although I am struggling with a word or phrase to describe their style. There are elements of shabby chic, with the Kraft card, colours of the Mummy card, eclectic fonts, inked edgings and doodling. But the colours of the Hazel and Karen cards seem rather too lively for this description … and remind me of how an ex-boyfriend described my favoured kind of pop music as jangly. So, in the absence of anything better, I'll settle for jangly shabby chic for now. I think I'll be making more to this design … for people with names of a suitable length.

I also used the Times New Romance font for my brother and sister-in-law's initials on their anniversary card, which might become the basis for several other anniversary cards this year. Again, it uses a Funky Hand designer paper: this time from the Minty Madness collection. The charm embellishment was made from leather cord and beads that were lurking in my stash. I moved away from shabby chic to something rather cooler and more sophisticated (I hope), and used holographic mirror card, which I think works well with the Funky Hand papers. I struggled with how many little heart gems to put in the bottom right hand corner. For an anniversary card, two seemed to be the appropriate number, but I gave in to the pull of the crafters rule of three and think the balance is better for it.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

January Blues

When I started thinking about this month's Get Funky! January Blues challenge, I still had last month's Thank You! challenge in mind, particularly the typography that Anice had used on the freebie paper.  I wanted to include the letters of Happy Birthday in individual circles and spent a very happy hour or so hunting online for just the right type to use until I stumbled across 4 Yeo In (from Urban Fonts), which seemed perfectly suited to my plan.

For once, I didn't use the freebie designer paper - although, of course, I have stashed it away for just the right rainy day! - but instead chose two papers from the Birthday Boy collection on the Funky Hand Papercraft Factory Happy Happy Birthday CD.  I manipulated one of them in the Workspace on the CD to have the same design in two different sizes and used another graphics package to colour match the sentiment to the backing paper.

Having printed the sentiment, I commenced upon the time-consuming process of cutting out the letters using a Nestability and my Cuttlebug.  Since there were thirteen letters to cut, I had hoped to be able to use a punch, which would have been soooo much quicker, but didn't have one in the right size.  I was able, though, to use one to cut out the backing circles to give a narrow darker blue border.  Then it was on to the fun messy task of inking the edges of all those little circles and layering them up.  I used a border punch to produce some paper lace and made a 1 cm paper ribbon.  I originally tried layering a circle in the centre of the card but it seemed to take up too much space so I swapped it for a square.  More edge inking and layering followed and I was then ready for assembly.

I chose little buttons over paper flowers for the embellishments and decided not to add thread through their holes, as it looked overly busy.  For the same reason, I put the three colours of the buttons in the same order on each corner, as I couldn't make a random arrangement of them look random.

Since it was obvious what the sentiment said (I hope!), I decided that it would be fun to arrange the letters in a bit of a haphazard manner, which helped a lot as the two words are of such different lengths, and mounted the circles on 1 mm foam pads to give a bit of depth.

IMHO, at least, a simple, pleasing (and certainly blue) card, that could be sent to a guy or a girl, although I'll probably go for the former … and, amazingly, finished, blogged and entered well before the challenge deadline.  That gives me plenty of crafting time to devote to some birthday cards that I've been itching to make, based on my Thank You! challenge design, with the recipient's name in place of the original sentiment.  Should work well, I think, at least for those with short names! And, luckily and very obligingly, that's exactly what my friends and family with February birthdays have.  Watch this space.