Create an elastic background shape for text with Adobe Illustrator

Hi There!

Today I’m sharing a fast and wicked little tip to show you how to create a background shape for text. The power of this tip is that the shape will extend or shrink to the length of the text automatically. Yes! Edit the text and the shape will stretch or shrink to fit. A one-size-fits-all and it’s fabulous because it’s so easy.

The steps are in the pdf here:



A noisy noise

Do you remember the little ditty from way back?

A noisy noise annoys but a noisy noise annoys an oyster most? All well and good. Totally incidental.

Well, maybe a tenuous link to my post today. I’ve been working on Ben Marriott’s Colour Bleed and checked the difference between using a Fractal Noise Blend (Soft Linear) and a basic grainy Noise at 30%. Ben likes his noise settings to be fairly low.

I like a bit of noisier noise.

A bit gritty, but that’s the modern world. Wise words from philosopher, interior decorator and parochial house-keeper, Mrs Doyle.

Derailed, as I am by the many innovations of Mrs Doyle, I often comment on how Mr Bee empties shopping from the bag to the worktop, “That cat food box-set really enlivens a dull worktop”. It’s not passive-aggressive at all. Fortunately, it’s taken very tongue-in-cheek and we both laugh. As Mrs Doyle famously over-shared on that one occasion… “I remember when my husband…(pregnant pause)… I’ve said too much”… example, I’ll take a leaf out of her book and say no more about my marital relationship. (Seriously, all good, REALLY, and I don’t have the Samaritans on speed dial).

Here are the results of a simple drop motion and bleed (well, not that simple, actually quite convoluted, but worth the effort).

Colour Bleed 30% Noise
Colour Bleed with Fractal Noise

Gimme an ‘A’

I’ll give you two, actually. Remember the tutorial from a previous post back in Dec 2020?:

Do you wonder if there’s a quicker way to do something in Illustrator? There’s a tutorial on there to create the As in illustrator.

I used them to create a very quick and simple animation in After Effects

And you can do it, too:

Import the file you would like to apply the explosion effect to. You don’t need layers.

Select Pixel Poly from the Effects & Presets – tweak the settings. I’m not going to proscribe for you – the end result depends on the image you are using and the effect you are looking for. Play with the settings till you get what you want.

I made it a sub-comp because I wanted to use Time Remapping and it doesn’t seem to work unless it’s applied to a sub-comp.

Select Time Remapping. This will insert a keyframe at the beginning and end of the composition (mine was 5s long, if I remember correctly) then swap the two keyframes over so that the end position becomes the start and the start becomes the end.

Then it’s up to you to play with the speed, Easy Easing, Graph Editing etc.

Finally, I imported a ‘slurp’ from Envato (I subscribe and get the licence) and timed it to synch with the duration of the movie.

Then render and you’re done.

Happy Mondays to you all!

Bee Happy

Taking a break from tech stuff today and taking time to enjoy the natural wonders of the world.

A good while ago now, I noticed that a hedgehog was visiting our garden—so I bought a hedgehog house to, hopefully, persuade her to move in…

Then found a purpose-built, and far superior, hibernaculum. So she has already moved in. Well, if that ain’t happy enough…

The hedgehog house has been repurposed and is now an Air B ‘n’ B… or should that be an Air Bee ‘n’ Bee… you can see where I’m going with this?

Yes, it now houses a busy nest of bumble bees 🙂

Air Bee ‘n’ Bee

The entrance is a bit damp after a heavy downpour, proper wellies and wetsuit weather, but it doesn’t faze the little furry bottoms; beyond the damp patch the rest is dry… the house roof and the location—it’s under the cover of bushes— keeps it relatively dry and out of the wind. The hedgehog house has a curled entrance, like a sea shell, so it has a built-in wind baffler. Ingenious—and what a clever queen bee she was to spot this little gem on the housing market.

We never use pesticides, herbicides, weed killer, glyphocates in any form whatsoever. The slugs and snails will be organic and healthy for the hedgehog and the flowers clean and healthgiving for the bees (and other garden insects).

The garden is also a home to many Nursery spiders.

Look at that whopping egg sac! The Nursery spider rolls it along till she’s happy she’s found a spot to anchor the sac to until the baby spiders hatch out. (I hear Rachel from Bladerunner say those words every time I think or read them).

Here’s mummy with her egg sac wrapped in a gossamer cowl. Mummy stays close waiting for her spider babies to emerge.. I do not know what happens to her then…maybe shouldn’t make enquiries either…Rachel….
Look closely to see the babies

There are lots, possibly hundreds, of baby spiders that eventually emerge. You can see a couple under the bottom-left leaf. They disperse and go off on their own spider travels. Luckily they are pretty independent straight out of the nest otherwise mummy would have a FT job watching them—eternity leave!

This is a hebe—it’s very popular with the bees; they love it. We officially re-named our hebes (have a few in our front and back gardens) ‘hebeeshebees’.

So, hope you enjoyed a quick look at my garden residents and feel the love.

Smile from the heart and bee happy x o x o x o



Like the struggle to reach a magical oasis in a desert, Ben Marriott’s spinning cube was a journey worth the effort of making. I was in love with the whole effect and had to know how it was created. And now I know!

This is my version after following his tutorial. It’s glorious.


Wonderwalls – not a reference to the Oasis hit, Wonderwall, (which apparently means an imaginary friend who saves you from yourself) – but the planes of the cube with their dynamic effects and my ‘I wonder how he did that!”

My second one:

Looking forward to a scorchio weekend here!!

Happy clappies weekend!

Just Because…

I’m determined to do something with this blog, I’m making an effort to add content.

So first off, a Happy Monday to you!

Thankfully, my life has lots of yellow splodges to look forward to. These are highlights I add to my calendar. I like to look at the month ahead and see lots of yellow dates highlighted – they represent fun days. So far I have a couple of ‘posh nosh’ dates with friends, some lunch dates (with friends, not ‘date-dates, iykwim!) and a couple of meet ups and a day out.

My garden is lighting up with happy daisy faces and all sorts of things are blooming and showing off their love of life and colour. The rhododendron bushes are pushing out their pom-poms and cheer-leading joie de vivre in their ostentatious showiness. So many bees are visiting and seeing them buzzing about makes my heart just sing! Mahoosive celebration of loving the life you live. I find myself just drinking in the sheer gorgeousness of it all, it’s so mesmerising.

That crazy lady Marie Condo got into me over the weekend and I sorted out my hot presses. The Irish name for airing cupboards. I now have a big pile of things to donate to Noah’s ark (local animal rescue centre) and have very tidy folded piles of bedding, towels, T-towels and bits and bobs. It is a delight to look at them. A few years back I made heart sachets filled with lavender (allegedly repels moths) and there are several dangling in them. They look so pretty, that despite their scent being long gone, are earning their keep just by being pretty. I’ve come all over a bit Hyacinth Bouquet (or is that ‘Bucket?) and have an inordinate desire to invite the neighbours round for wine and nibbles and private viewing of them.

I also found an appliqué cushion that I made yonks back. The hares were applied using Bondaweb then stitched round:

The teddies gathered round to photo bomb the occasion, of course:

Teddy Boys – truly, this is the whole collection. No secret teddy stash.

They are sitting on a lovely rocking chair that I got from a charity shop some time back. It was a bit of a knacker but we repaired it and restored its looks with a fresh coat of paint. Scrubbed up well, eh?!

The velvet cushion was one I made and you can see a glimpse of a ‘confetti blanket’ – a blanket that uses up ends of balls making rows of different stitches. They are the best fun to make and I love them and currently making a big one.

Talking of charity shops, I found this ornament:

Rosina Wachtmeister

I’ve loved this woman’s cat paintings for years and years. I have images of her prints on all my devices! Then recently, spotted this brooch on Etsy:

It’s now on my denim jacket.

…looking around for more inspiration about things to post… think that’s it. For information, the animated gifs were created in Illustrator/Photoshop and animated in After Effects – joy at my fingers tips to create these things from nothing. I even bought three Terry Runyan books; two are about drawing cute characters… couldn’t resist drawing them digitally and animating them, ha ha!

Wherever you are, hope you’re happy and sending you all a smile from the heart.


Home Made Lemon Curd

My baking mojo has come back after abandoning me for so long!

It all started with 24 lemon cupcakes at the weekend. Best Irish butter, organic, unwaxed lemons, free range eggs (let’s try for happy hens 🙂 ) … of course sugar and SR flour… little to commend them, I’m afraid but they do play nicely with the other ingredients.

Some go into the office with Mr Bee. There’s now a requirement for him to go in once a week after WFH during the Covid years. He takes 10 or so. Six go to my next-door-neighbour. She’s very popular, lots of friends and family visit so a few extra to share with her pals over a cup of coffee.

Mr Bee eats the rest over the week. Not me. Without being too sanctimonious, I rarely eat sugar or processed flour these days. I’ve lost 3 stones since last August by restricting refined carbs (not keto diet) making better, healthier food choices and intermittent fasting. After years of disordered eating, including anorexia and bulimia from my long-ago teens, I have peace. No starvation, craving or bingeing. I’ll shut up in case my halo slips and chokes me.

Lemon Curd. Simple, sweet and smooth as silk. Fresh, lemony loveliness! I savour the smell and the process even though I don’t indulge – with not a single pang of temptation! Here’s how to make it.


110g castor sugar
60g butter
5 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 3 lemons


Place a bowl over a saucepan (or bain-marie if you actually have one) of simmering water on the hob. Ensure the base of the bowl is above the water and not immersed. You wouldn’t like your bottom sitting in broiling water, would you?

Dissolve the sugar and lemon juice then add the eggs and whisk and stir till perfectly blended then stir and whisk some more… on and off… but more on than off… for 15 minutes. The mixture will thicken up as the eggs cook and will produce the most glorious yellow sunshiny hue.

Take the bowl off the heat and stir in the butter till it’s blended and the mixture is silky smooth.

Pour the mixture through a sieve into a sterilised jar (to sterilise, wash the jar in hot soapy water, rinse and pop in oven at 160 for 15 mins).

I use a riddler to coax, push and pummel the lemon curd through the sieve. A riddler is a knobbly-ended implement that makes this little job … rewarding …. in some strange way. If you don’t have a riddler, a spoon will do the trick.

Finally, gaze at your jar of sunshine and just enjoy the moment.

Mr Bee will eat it with ice cream, on bread and, if there’s any left, I’ll be making another batch of lemon cupcakes and giving each one a squidge of lemon curd. Use an apple corer to bore out a well from the top of each cake; fill a piping bag with some curd, snip off a corner and pipe it into the cake well. Lemon cake wells…. ha ha.

Happy days to anyone who might be reading this and a warm Hello from me in (chilly today) Ireland.

Happy Easter

These are my lovely Tesco Tearaway dungarees; nice but dull. I was getting bored with them. Yesterday, I chopped the hems off, stitched some braid around the bottoms and added a little trim on the bib. To finish off, I got out a fat darning needle and frayed them. Fun for round the house.

Oh so boho.

I finally indulged myself with a pair of colourful DMs. Very happy feet.

They will take a lot of softening up…

Hope you have a happy Easter and a break from work to eat lots of chocolate and watch a Bond movie. Seems to be a bank hol staple in UK/Ireland.

Moser Roth. My favourite chocolate. Bugger the diet.