Tuesday, 3 March 2015

St Ives Part 1

I love the excitement of arriving in St Ives, whether by train or car. Both routes give you a glimpse of that wonderful harbour scene as you're getting close to the resort..
I took this from the train as we reached Porthminster beach (foreground)...
There are four main beaches....Porthminster, Porthmeor, Porthgwidden and the harbour. There are also a few more tiny ones.
Well, the weather forecast was not good.....we expected to arrive in heavy rain. But thankfully it was wrong; the sun shone all afternoon and we were able to sit out on our balcony having a cup of tea (with no coat on!)
We rented a beautiful house from Sailingbystives......if you click on the link you can see more pictures.
Here are some of mine....

I'd be happy to stay there for the rest of my days, but we'd have to take Angel of course :-). 
Don't know what she'd make of those seagulls......
The six days flew by; lots of walking, eating, drinking, gallery-visiting, photo-taking, reading.......and just sitting staring at that view.
More next time.....

Since I got back I've begun making more collages....
I like adding these shabby leaves to my collages; they're really easy to make. I keep all my paper scraps in a box (from making inky/painted backgrounds) and simply free machine the leaf shapes onto them in a random way. 
When I've done, I just tear around the leaves - the messier the better! (The needle makes perforation holes).
I'm not a fan of straight/cut lines so I prefer to tear. I guess you could cut around with small scissors if you wanted to. 
I know you can use pre-set patterns on a machine, but I like messier hand 'drawn' ones better. 
Experiment with different types of paper.....soft (thin) cartridge works well, as does printer paper and newsprint (just tear carefully).
When they're done I lay them on an acetate sheet and brush on acrylic wax. It holds them together and gives a nice finish. I guess you could use PVA. 
Peel them off the sheet when they're dry.

Here are some close-ups....

Stitching freestyle on the machine....
And tearing....

I hand stitch them onto my collages in different ways.
Hope that helps!

Happy March :-) Yay....Spring is coming!

Friday, 20 February 2015

Off to the seaside......

We are heading off to St Ives very soon..... the weather forecast doesn't look too amazing, but we aren't worried. I've booked a beautiful cosy cottage and made sure the iPad, Kindle, camera, sketch pad and a sewing project are in my bag.
We are going by train for the first time....a 7 and a half hour trip....must remember to pack a picnic.

Before I go....here's a mosaic of my latest completed needlecases .....

Hopefully I'll be able to post some photos from my iPad whilst we're away......back soon.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

When I Get The Blues....

My health has been a big issue for me over the past two years or so. It has affected my life (and my husband's) to a great extent ....we have had to cancel holidays, trips out, meals with friends and so on because I just cannot function when the symptoms hit me. It makes it difficult to plan things.....but we still do make plans because we have to be positive and try to carry on as normally as possible.
We are leaving for St Ives in a few days....a long awaited trip which means so much to me. As you can imagine, fingers are tightly crossed.

Kind friends have asked about my health so I have written about it in a separate section in case anyone is interested. I have listed all my coping strategies which might be useful for any of you suffering similar  symptoms. And of course I'd love to hear from anyone who can offer help or suggestions as well.
You'll find it if you click on the tab 'My Health Story' at the top of the page.

I no longer eat wheat or sugar...but I still have treats and will post recipes for these as the weeks go by.

Today I made 'energy balls'! :-) I make lots of versions of these....sometimes with dates, almonds, pistachios, dried cranberries, almond butter, walnuts....there are so many possibilities.
You'll find the recipe here... at 'Gimme Some Oven' (found on Pinterest).
The ingredients are (all  organic) oats, coconut, flaxseed, peanut butter, raw honey, chia seeds, vanilla extract and chocolate chips (high percentage cocoa). I keep them in a box in the fridge ...great for whenever I feel the need for something sweet.  

Today isn't a major 'blues day'. My oesophagus is rucked up - but I'm used to that. Brian and I went for a walk to Attenborough Nature Reserve and made the most of the glorious sunshine. This is the sight that met us when we reached St Mary's church.....
.......a sea of crocuses and snowdrops.We come here every year at this time....and every year it seems to get better.
The robins were serenading us, the ducks were a-dabbling.........it truly felt like spring :-)

Today's blues......

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Occasional Blues.....

New name....new start!

Why 'Occasional Blues'? Well, I wanted to keep some kind of a link with my previous blog name and, although my tastes have changed, it goes without saying you'll still be seeing some shades of blue here :-)
And there's also the fact that I've been experiencing 'the blues' off and on over the last couple of years (and that will probably continue as I don't have a miracle cure yet). More of that later.
But I really had to get rid of the word 'girl'......... hardly appropriate as I approach my 63rd birthday ;-)

So what can you expect to see here should you pay me a visit?
There'll be lots of photos.....mostly altered in some way.
Moodboards and mosaics.
My little paper and fabric collages.
Healthy recipes and tips I've picked up over the last couple of years.
Rants about my health.....I'll keep them short.
And tales of my travels.
Talking of which....I'm off to St Ives very soon. And we're going on the train! I can't wait.

My aims:

  • to keep my posts short and frequent
  • to be honest about stuff important to me. Be warned....some of it may be controversial ;-)
  • to share any creative tips and ideas I can come up with
  • to also share interesting stuff I discover on other blogs and websites (I'm an avid reader of health and lifestyle blogs)

Next post.....the reason why I've been such a rubbish blogger over the past year. 
And some new needlecases.

I'll leave you with a recent piece of digital scrapbooking.... 

.... a photo taken with my favourite iPhone app - Hipstamatic

....and a lovely recipe from one of my favourite health bloggers 'Oh She Glows'...... a Happy Digestion Smoothie! I need this today.......

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Where to start?

There's so much to say, I just don't know where to start. 
Once again I lost my way with everything to do with blogging. I haven't made anything with paper or fabric for ages.....but my love of photography, digital altering, iPhoneography, styling and moodboards has grown.
Over the past few months I have probably spent too much time on Pinterest, Instagram and FB; they are so easy to use.

Things haven't been great for me, health-wise, and when I'm struggling with those issues I can't focus on the whole process of blogging; the planning, composing posts, visiting blogs, sorting and editing photos,.......plus I don't feel I have anything worth saying (or showing). But I may be on the verge of finally getting a diagnosis (after almost three years). More of that another time. 

Anyway, I think I'm ready to start again....

Here are some of the things I'm  LOVING at the moment:
So what have I actually been doing? 

  • Going a bit crazy with Hipstamatic......

I think I like these dried coneflowers even more than the living ones....

  • Trying a bit of black and white

  • Making moodboards .......

 (Apologies to Instagram friends who have already seen some of these)

  • Planning Christmas projects .....  I have a tray of bottle brush trees in my art room awaiting transformation:

Last week we went to the Christmas Market at the Derby Roundhouse (organised by fabulousplaces.co.uk). 
It truly was a fabulous day and I was very grateful to feel well enough to enjoy it. 
I was mesmerised by the incredible setting, the attention to detail, the exhibitors (all from Derbyshire and many of them craftspeople), the food, the vintage tearoom, the decorations .......it was very special. And only a ten minute train ride away! The Roundhouse has a fascinating history; it's the world's first and oldest surviving railway roundhouse, built with the help of George and Robert Stephenson. If you click on the link you can see a 360 degree view of it.
We had VIP tickets which meant we received a bag of treats and samples plus we could use the private lounge and have free prosecco and cake. Brian was particularly grateful for this as he was able to relax and read his paper whilst I did a workshop run by Birds in the Attic.  It was so nice to meet Klara there (such an inspiring lady) and we had a lovely time making snow globes.
This was our view of the Roundhouse as we entered..... 

....and here are some other images from the day.

My little snow globe is bottom right.

I can't go without an Angel update........
She has two loves in her life at the moment (apart from me ;-)

  • The scratching board we bought from Zooplus for £3.99 (what a bargain....she's never off it!) She's decided its for scratching and sleeping.
  • Froggy (the green monster she's cuddling in the first pic). She carries him around the house in her mouth like a kitten.....then fights with him. (Maybe its a good thing she never had kittens ;-)

That's all for now......I'll try to come back very soon to show you more of my snow globes
(I'm currently tying little trees on top of cars). Oh the joys of Pinterest....... :-)

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Mood Boards.....

I'm currently fiddling (happily) with pictures and natural objects....making collages (or 'mood boards' or 'inspiration boards' as they seem to be called on Pinterest and Flickr).
I feel a need to give these another name though; in a way they are photo collages (except if you google that something different comes up). Still life? Not really..... Any other ideas?
Maybe I can invent a name ;-)
Anyway, it's rather therapeutic and means I can get out my vast collection of natural bits and pieces.....and photos and magazines.....and make 'temporary collages'.
As I said in a previous post, some may be more permanent pieces of art and involve some stitching. Still working on those....

The magazine page is from my current favourite publication 'The Coastal Lookbook' published by Country Homes and Interiors.....

I am besotted with images of the coast and anything connected with it. The colours of course....plus the whole idea of living by the sea with all its associated sights, sounds and smells. This is a gorgeous magazine...can definitely recommend!

Here's a sample of items from my 'coastal collection' ;-)

I guess this is actually a 'mood board'.

I've signed up for a 'webinar' called "Styling & Photographing Inspiration Boards" which I saw on Helen Hallows blog; you can read more about it there. Helen is a brilliant artist who I am lucky enough to know and be able to visit as she lives very close by. You can see an example on her blog post.
Can't wait for the webinar.....it's like a proper lecture; you have to be at your PC ready at a specific time and it lasts for an hour. I guess I will have to take notes!

Whilst on the 'beachy' theme....we recently came back from our sixth holiday on my beloved Skiathos island (and have already booked again for next June ;-)
If I was in a position to live anywhere I wanted, it would be a toss up between St Ives and Skiathos. I love them both with a passion.
I shall now bore you with a few pics......

 Skiathos town harbour....
The start of the 'steps', where there are cushions outside all the bars on the steps up the side of the harbour......

Our closest beach.....Troulos

View from the Bourtzki (an 'attached' island by the harbour).....

Skiathos town......

 Open air cinema..... showing Mamma Mia of course!

Church at the top of the hill.....

...and the view from the top......

...where Sophie posted the letters to her three dads in Mamma Mia :-)

Ok.....that's enough for now ;-)
Happy July!
My gorgeous cerinthe.......

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Be Still..... Day 3

This week in Kim's class we are thinking about creating our own individual style. This is a tricky one for me as I'm going through a period of transition at the moment......moving away  from my much-loved brighter colours and trying to achieve a more subtle, softer kind of art.
I think I may also moving away from textile art.
Whether this is permanent or not, of course, remains to be seen.... ;-)
So, I'm learning to love shades of white.....cream.....and grey. But there will always be a little purple and green in there. And maybe blue. (Probably not much yellow, orange or red though).
I'm also trying out a new art form involving collage, still life and photography. I still want to make grungy background papers....I also would like to add a few stitches here and there......and I want to use natural materials (apart from garden resources I have a huge collection of pebbles, driftwood, shells, seedheads, pressed flowers etc)
So, a work in progress.......

Back to my photo.
Kim gave us three prompts; round, white and minimalist.
I've kind of achieved the first two......but minimalist will always be hard for me!
I used a number of Kim's textures including 'magicscratches' which is one of my favourites and the text is from 'kkbeyond affirmations'.

For all those of you out there who (like me) need a confidence boost from time to time....... you are already amazing.
Thank you Kim.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Take Time.......

Texture Tuesday..... 'Take time to love the little things in life'
Kim Klassen's textures 'waterfront18' and 'februarymagicedges'.

Brian and I went for a walk yesterday along a path that was a sea of cow parsley.......
(photo looks a bit like the parting of the sea ;-)
 Such a pretty, underestimated flower......

When we got back the Abel and Cole delivery had arrived and in it there was a gorgeous bunch of young asparagus (Brian's favourite)......

.......just the inspiration I needed for cooking dinner.  Luckily I already had the other ingredients.
I put this photo of the ingredients on my FB page yesterday and promised I'd add the recipe to my blog today....... (taken on iPad with Hipstagram app).

Pea, Mint and Asparagus Risotto (for two)
1. Fry a small finely chopped onion (or a shallot) in some olive oil (I use a large frying pan for this).
2. When it starts to go transparent, add 130g of risotto (arborio) rice and fry it gently for a couple of mins with the onion.
3. Cut up the asparagus into 1cm pieces and cook in a separate pan (or microwave) with a handful of peas till tender (amounts are up to you!)
4. Add a small glass of white wine to the rice and stir. Continue stirring and adding liquid gradually (450ml approx chicken stock) for 15 to 20 mins until the rice is cooked but still nice and moist.
5. Stir in a big blob of creme fraiche.
6. Add the cooked asparagus and peas, along with some chopped mint, parsley and lemon rind. Stir.
7. Finally, grate some parmesan cheese on top.

We only recently discovered risotto.....can't believe we've missed out for so long! 
(I always thought it sounded a bit yukky....sloppy rice ;-)

We also love the smoked haddock version......and chicken with lemon.
Further recommendations gratefully received!