22 July, 2012

Mini Travel Guide: Marseille & Nice

For my big 3-0 back in May, my other half Robert surprised me with a birthday present of a four day trip to the South of France in July. We've recently returned and I thought I would share with you a few tips for those who may be interested in hearing about it or perhaps might be planning a similar trip sometime in the future!

Firstly we had the mini task of travelling from Limerick to Dublin for out flight. To extend our holidays just a teeny bit we decided to stay in Dublin the night before in a near by airport hotel as our flight was at 06:15am! We made the mistake last year of getting a bus at 01:00am to travel from Limerick to Dublin when going to Greece and after that experience (people having loud phonecalls, snoring or opening tinfoil wrapped sandwiches), we said "never again!".

Once I finished work on Friday evening, we finished packing and off we went. The trip to Dublin was pretty smooth and we decided to splash out later that evening by having a nice meal and some wine in the hotels swanky restaurant....however it anything but swanky! The prices may have suggested that decent food was available but it.was.terrible! So terrible that I complained. Being someone who dislikes confrontation I have never complained in a restaurant nor have I ever , ever sent back food but the pasta muck (which cost a staggering €16.50...thats about $20!) was reheated awfulness and the sirlon steak (again, an expensive €22) which Robert ordered was bland, tasteless and quite honestly I'm surprised he ate as much of it as he did.

After a few bites, I stopped eating my mains and declared I was sending it back. Robert looked surprised and when I eventually did get the attention of a waitress and politley informed her that I could not eat it and did not want to pay for it, he said well done to me - He too was surprised at my random act of ball-si-ness. We did not let it ruin our evening and decided to polish off the wine and get some rest before our 4am start to the airport.

The flight to Marseille was quick, around 2 hours and the sun and heat immeditaly hit our pale skin as soon as we stepped off our flight. Robert is awesome when it comes to maps, directions and subways so after we collected our...ahem...my luggage (I dont understand the meaning of travelling light!), I followed him like a lost puppy to the train we had to catch in order to get to our hotel.

Robert selected the Music Hotel for our stay. It was clean, quirky, arty and the staff were friendly and helpful. Its also good to note that we arrived on Bastille Day (French Independence Day) and that staff were happy to tell us where to go to get the best view of the fireworks. Prior to this though, we arrived early to our hotel so we left our luggage in their care and went exploring to see what Marseille had to offer. As our trip was short in duration we had planned on cramming in as much as possible and toyed with the idea of hiring a car but decided that we would get a train to Nice and spend a day there at some stage.

Marseille is a lovely city, however it has been selected as the european city of culture for 2013 and as a result there are alot of renovations going on. They're quite literally digging up the place so there's alot of traffic diversions and with that, some crazy, impatient drivers. However, the only distraction this gives at the moment is that instead of having some light and lovely lunch along the quay, your view is builders and rubble as opposed to boats and sea.

Our first stop was some food, having not eaten much the night before we were starving and we found a lovely little restaurant which offered some shade and fresh fish. I promptly ordered it, gobbled up and declared it was the best meal I ever had. We then started a leisurely stroll and came across the 'petit train' (small train) which offered a trip around Marseille culminating in a stunning view from the top of the city where a church is placed. I joked with Robert that somehow, even though we are not remotely religious we some how also end up looking at or being inside churches while on holidays. We spent a nice bit of time up there and took in the views and people watched, one of my favourite things to do.

Afterwards we hopped on a boat to one of the near by islands, we thought we were going to the island where inspiration was found for the book 'The Count of Monte Christo', but erm....we kinda got on the wrong boat! Oops! However, the island of Frial (I think that's how it's spelt offered pretty views and yummy ice cream). We then headed back to our hotel and officially checked in. As mentioned our room was clean and spacious with lovely air conditioning! We relaxed, unpacked and made plans to get ourselves to the beach to see the fireworks for the Bastille celebrations. Before the fireworks we watched an amazing sunset   and watched as those on the beach enjoyed the last of the sunshine for the evening.

The fireworks were fantastic and we ate some vendor treats while the sky lite up, however I did manage to lose my beloved iPhone. Long story short, there was some commotion on the beach and I had to leave my spot and my phone simply slipped off my skirt. Luckily it was insured and a new one is on its merry way to me!

We decided that on the third day we would travel to Nice for the day and so organised train tickets. We also booked a second boat trip to view Les Calanques, however (I think luck was not on our side on this trip) it was too windy to allow swimming. Robert was gutted, I'm pretty sure this guy was a fish in a former life, he loves the sea and checking out what oceanlife has to offer. I was sad for him. Apart from that it was a lovely, relaxing 3 hour boat trip. I stayed mostly in the shade, being so pale I can never risk getting burned, its too painful.

On the third day we boarded trains and was Nice bound. A two and a half hour trip each way, we were there in no time. Nice is beautiful and the quay side is filled with thee most luxurious boats. You can almost smell the wealth! The strip of beach is stunning and not overcrowded like most popular tourist destinations. We decided on an open bus tour which was a great idea. It took us all over the city and to the most amazing views. When I become a grown up I want a villa / apartment in Nice overlooking the sea, simply stunning! 

After our bus trip, we hit the antique markets - with the strong heat I didn't purchase anything and then later that day we went to a restaurant on the beach. It was crazy pricey, a whopping €40 for two bagels and two cokes, but hey that's Nice and when we looked around us we say many a rich couple drinking €130 bottles of champagne as they sunbathed!

We returned back to Marseille and decided on our last day that we would take it easy as our flight wasnt until later that night....or so Robert thought! Later that day, were returned to the airport and our selected terminal. I turned to Robert and said "I cant see our flight on the screen..actually there are no flights to Ireland tonight!" - Robert pulled out our information and kept saying "It's 10:15, defo....10:15" - He stared at the piece of paper and then started to panic to which he said.."It was 10:15 this morning!!!". I quickly turned into fix it now mode and the short version is that we had no choice but to fly to London that night, sleep in Gatwick airport and then get an early flight back to Dublin. I missed a day off work and when we eventually got home, after being awake for 30 hours straight, we collapased into a deep sleep. I wont event begin to tell you the huge expense it cost us to get those two extra flights! I might cry!

Apart from the nasty hotel meal, losing of the phone and the missing the flight episode, we did have a lovely time and vowed to return to the area for a longer road trip! Although after the flight mix up, Robert stated "I'm never going foreign again!"

21 July, 2012

Camera Bag Wish List

Having recently returned from holidays (more on that later...there was some drama involved!) - I now, more than ever, desire a beautiful camera bag. One which not only fits my pretty Canon and its lenses, but also all those extra holiday snippets like sunglasses, money, lip balm and when I'm in town....oodles of sun cream! (You know what I'm saying pale ladies of the world!). I'll go out on a drama queen limb here and say "it's too much trouble carrying two bags in hot countries!!"

These pretties have caught my eye today!

via here

I want this red one soooo much! via here

Of course, it needs to look like this on the inside! I heart compartments! via here

Matching straps too (number 6) & adorable temporary tattoos (number 9)
via here

...and, when I have my camera bag, I'll look chic and cool, 'cas everyone knows
thats what shopping does for you! via here

18 July, 2012

Pinterest finds...

Beautiful, pretty, simple, inspiring cards from many a talented crafter courtesy of Pinterest, of course!

via here

via here

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via here

13 July, 2012

Card Layout & Design

The little canvas you have for creating your mini masterpiece is...well.....little. At times I know I can come up against creative brick walls in keeping my cards interesting and try to stay clear of creating the same type of design or layout. I often have those days where I enter the craft room, ready to make a huge range of cards, only to experiment, make and then.....toss away in the bin, unhappy with some of my mini creations!

As a creative person I look alot to shapes, textures and colour and daily I'm inspired by my surroundings and many types of artwork people all over the web are creating. I don't necessarily gain inspiration from other card makers but from a whole host artists and often jot down or photograph those snippets of curiosity and save them for another card making day!

A nifty way of keeping your cards up to date, fresh and of course buy-able is to pre plan the layout. Its a method I employ and sometimes I like just sitting in front of the TV on the sofa with my trusty sketchbook and markers and hours later I have numerous card layouts ready for creation. Using this method I find, allows you to get stuck into card making without delay and saves on your precious materials too!

Here you can see a peek of my layout ideas and how I've transformed a simple 2D drawing into a mini 3D wonder! I've added more embellishments to the card as I worked my way through it, but essentially using this technique allows you to get the basics right first time. There's nothing stopping you adding to the card once you've put the basic layout together...and the "bla, bla, bla, bla" section of the card? Well that's usually where I place or stamp a sentiment such as 'Happy Birthday'. Be sure to include space for the sentiment if you're hoping to add one. 

Setting time aside to pre plan your layouts wont eat too much into your crafting time, but it certainly will make you a tad more productive in the long run!

08 July, 2012

Positive Quotes

Considering the last six weeks in Ireland have been a complete washout,
I think this quote is very, very apt! Summer, where are you?

07 July, 2012

My Work / Life / Creative Balance

 Lately I've been asked (alot) "How do you do it all?" and "Where do you find the time?"

The above questions are in relation to the fact that I work a very real and sometimes demanding full time office job. If you know me well enough, you'll know that I have a range of suits in my wardrobe with a range of work appropriate and boring shoes and that in reality I'm two people.

The first person is the professional (or at least, I try to be!) Rebecca who you meet in the office, complete with a working diary, meetings (too many meetings!) to attend and many, many tasks to complete and people to please. It's a little surreal some days and I try to let my personality and artistic side shine through by wearing funky jewellery, an unusual bag or spending that little bit longer in the morning applying some nice or creative eye make up. Those little measures make me feel that I'm still an artist at heart and that perhaps one day a change in circumstances will mean a new and more creative role for myself. I get to do grown up things like delegate tasks, ask people for rent and give out to students too, but I like to call it my 9 - 5 face!

The other Rebecca is the person behind LuckyRainbowDesigns, the arty one at school, the one still trying to finish her up MA in Art and Design and the one trying to blog and use all the social media tools available to her in order to let the good folk of the internet know who and what the above is. Considering I'm a busy gal, what measures / tools do I employ to keep the above ticking away?

iPhone & List maker extraordinaire
First and foremost my phone is a huge asset. When in class, or during a particularly boring lecture, I would check emails or respond to any queries from an assistant via text. I also took classes with another part time student and she would do the very same, and at times, we would have to pop out of class to take 'work calls'. Organizational apps such as Evernote are useful to help you organise your time, but for me, I felt it was a chore in itself to try and even remember to do this!

However, having an iPhone allows me instant access to my Facebook and Twitter accounts which allows me to update as I go. Genius! I'm also a big follower of Instagram and often take quick snapshots which I can easily upload to any of my social media accounts. It helps keep things ticking over when I'm working through busy periods that demand more of my time.

Lists, lists and more lists.....oh and did I mention lists!?
I'm also a big list maker! I get great satisfaction from crossing things off my list and always ensure I've nice pens and paper to make my lists with! (A girl has got to prioritize, right?) But besides this, it helps clear your head. Sometimes tasks and the daily crap you have to do can seem overwhelming until you write it all down.

I'm also a fan of making 'me lists' // things in which you do for yourself. Right now on my me list I have written 'ring spa for massage appointment'. All this crouching over computers is too much for my 5ft 4" frame at times and every 6 - 8 months I have to get those icky knots ironed out. Schedule some time for yourself, its good for you and try not to feel guilty about it.

Accept it / Don't fight it
By this I mean, accept that you're busy and put a plan in place so that you can get everything done. If you keep saying "I'm busy, I'm busy!", you won't get much done. Sit down, breathe, make a list, then a plan and get started.

Take each task one at a time and you will get it all done and done well. If you require help, ask! I once read a great quote that said, "ask for help with jobs / tasks you don't like". I often do this when I'm in my 9am - 5pm job and usually require assistance with tasks that are maths / finance related. I don't have the head for numbers and stats, so why not ask for help with someone who does have a head for it. Result, task is completed correctly (you hope!) and probably with more ease too. You may also have learned something along the way. Bonus!

Give up TV!!
If you watch less or perhaps no TV at all (perish the thought!) you will be amazed and surprised at the amount of free time which it frees up! Think about it, are you the kind of person who comes home from work at 5:30pm and then stays on the couch until bedtime at 11pm? There's 5 and a half hours right there that you could put to use. 

Allocate some of this time, or maybe on some evenings all of that time to other tasks! For me, it usually means spending that precious time (and to me, it really is precious) in the craft room, writing and scheduling blog posts, updating all things social media and also completing research and catching up with what is going on in the crafty world and of course making new items for lovely and potential customers! I still feel however, I still don't have enough time to expand what is it I want LuckyRainbowDesigns to be.

With the joys of the world wide web you can also catch up on your favourite and missed shows on the weekends or on alternative days off and really once you've missed a few episodes of those soaps, you're lost anyway.

Make FULL use of your days off
I cannot stress this enough! 

I'm currently writing this post on one of my days off and lie in's for me are a thing of the past. In fact, getting out of bed at 9:30am is a lie for me as most mornings, my body wakes up at around 7am anyways. It takes me about 30 minutes to 'wake up' and once I've had a cuppa, I'm good to go and ready to tackle the day. I'm not saying you NEED to work on your days off, but for me sitting in the craft room, creating away is not work for me. Its enjoyable, fun and a stress reliever sometimes too. Its also an insight to how I might be able to work one day.

Take advantage of those non work days, get all those itty bitty jobs outta the way (you know, the washing, cleaning and that present you have to get for aunty Joan who you rarely see) and don't procrastinate.ever! I am or at least have been guilty of this in the past and all its leads to is stress and tears, neither of which I handle very well.

And finally....Sleep!
I've read lots of articles and blog posts about the fine art of balance and know that many of you out there work into the wee hours in order to get things done and dusted! Many are also balancing it with children (Oh my, you're all amazing!) - but for me, sleep is a must. I cannot function in the workplace unless I've had a full compliment of 7 - 8 hours interrupted sleep. I often find that working on projects late into the night leads to sloppy work and a grumpy attitude the next day. The grumpy attitude then leads into the next day and the next days work. Not a good combination.

I also very rarely drink alcohol during the week and leave nights out to the weekend. Mind you, they've been few and far between lately too! (Sniff, sniff!). This way of working works for me, but I know there are many of you out there who do this and more, so share your nifty time saving tips so we all can learn!

Apart from all of the above, all I know is that I want to do it. I want to be creative and I want to make things and that has been in me since the year dot. I'm sure many of you can relate to this feeling and for me the above works for now. It's not ideal at time, but I know there are many, many more balancing more plates than little ole me!

04 July, 2012

Male Cards

There has been many a card maker extraordinaire who have found difficulty when trying to create, design and make unique (but still cute!) cards for the men of the world! Lets face it, we can't dive head first into our collections of butterflies, flowers and glitter much like we do for every other type of card...so how do we make cards for the men that are interesting to make and also, importantly to give?

For me, I tend to use patterns or colour as theme. Doing this you're already narrowing down the parameters in which you can work and gives you a little focus. I was recently asked to make some Fathers Day cards (Fathers Day is not just celebrated in June you know!) and decided that I'd really try and make them stand out and look as good as any other female card I'd normally create.

For these cards, I've used muted themes of reds and greens with strong patterns, so that from the start it stands out. A favourite embellishment I like to use with male cards are trusty buttons! Easy to source and easy to use, plus they're available in a wide range of shapes, sizes and colours! 

When making any type of card, I like to play around with the layout and treat each card as a mini canvas. 

Cut out your selected pieces of paper in different shapes and sizes and experiment with them, by moving them around the blank card, This allows you to work out different combinations and soon you'l stumble on something that you like and think works best!

The paper I have used here from the Tim Holtz collection. I'm not a huge fan of Tim Holtz paper but purchased these as I thought they would be suitable for male cards only, but you can easily see how strong patterns make a huge impact. To top off the card, I've used some foam letters (purchased online somewhere!) to spell out 'DAD' but you could play around and adapt it to say anything or perhaps use a stamp to stamp out 'Happy Birthday' or something similar!

How do you make male cards? Any tips to share?

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