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!

Friday, 23 May 2014


Be Still 52 Week Two

This week Kim wrote about mindfulness, meditation and focusing on breathing ...... things I'm used to as a yoga-lover :-) We often practice a form of pratyahara which is a kind of sensory deprivation.....thereby helping us to focus on our inner sounds and breathing.
Try it by covering your eyes with your flattened fingers, at the same time covering your ears with your thumbs to cut out all sights and sounds. As you breathe deeply, the sound becomes very relaxing.

Ujjayi breathing is also useful for concentrating on the breath; it takes a bit of mastering, but it makes a lovely sound. In fact it's sometimes called 'ocean breath'. Here's how to do it.....

When I was teaching I often used to end the day with a form of meditation with the children. I'd put a drop of lavender oil on the back of their hands and ask them to gently stroke it into their skin whilst breathing in the smell. They loved it. And parents often thanked me for the calm and peaceful way their children left school.....bonus!!  ;-)
I daresay it would be 'banned' nowadays for all sorts of stupid reasons. I always asked parents' permission at the start of the year and no-one ever objected.....but times have changed and sadly, a lot of the fun has been taken out of school-life.

For my photo I chose lavender and rosemary....two of my favourite plants from the garden with lovely scents to breathe in.
I used Kim's textures 'magicscratches' and phoebe'. I may make this into a card and see how it looks.....

And finally.....what's on my desk?  

Planning new collages
Photo taken using Hipstamatic app on iPad.
(Lens 'John S' and film 'Dream Canvas')

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Texture Tuesday......

A day late again....here's my contribution to Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday.
The theme is..... Black and White and Textured  (and a few shades of grey in my case).

I took the original using Hipstagram on my iPad and toned down the colour to almost black and white using Photoshop, then finally added Kim's texture 'Simple' at colour burn blend 76%.
You can see the original photograph in my previous post.

I have very few china, pottery or glass ornaments in my house......but lots of driftwood, pebbles and shells.
Not everyone's cup of tea I guess....but definitely mine ;-)

Monday, 19 May 2014

Be Still.......

I'm taking part in Kim Klassen's 'Be Still 52' which began last week.......that's a whole year of focusing on still life photography.

So here I am.....week one....reminding myself to stop, breathe deeply and just be still for a few moments every day.

For me, photography is about noticing the little things around me. These poppy seed heads from last year are so tiny; it would be easy to just dismiss them and put them in the compost bin.
But they are incredibly beautiful, like tiny minarets......or ancient writing tools :-)
The background is one of my mixed-media background papers.
Textures over the top.....Kim's 'Fully' and 'Februarymagicedges'.
Here's the link to Kim's class.....

And here they are again with a little Photoshop layering and altering...... and one of my inky background papers.

Thanks to my blogging friends, I've recently discovered the joys of Hipstamatic on my iPad and iPhone. 
(Thank you Lynn and Viv)
I downloaded it months ago but couldn't get to grips with it....but over the past week I have persevered and now it's my favourite app. Yes, even more than Waterlogue :-)
The basic app was free, but I have bought a couple of add on packages. Basically you can change the lens and the film to get different effects and build up favourite 'recipes'. Or you can just shake the camera up and down and get a random pairing! 
Very interesting....
These examples use 'Melodie' lens and 'Dream Canvas' film. My favourite combo up to now.

More to come soon......

Friday, 25 April 2014

Friday Finds....Bluebells and Books

Joining in with Kim Klassen's Friday Finds today.
(These are actually Thursday Finds.......but I don't think anyone will notice)

 Photo altered in PSE using two layers of  Kim's texture 'Coolgrunge'.
Beautiful bluebells from my garden plus a vintage book (Dante's 'Ad Astra') gifted to me by a lovely new friend. 

I had a wonderful day yesterday with Maggi BirchenoughJulie Mackinder and a group of her friends.
We went to see the new exhibition of work by The Textile Study Group at The Beetroot Tree Gallery near where I live. We also managed coffee at the Cachepot vintage tea rooms, lunch at Anderson's delicatessen and a rummage in Peartree Yard craft emporium, That's what I call a packed day! :-)
By way of a thank you, Wendy gave me a vintage book I'd admired in Peartree Yard....its very special and I can't wait to use it in my projects.

On the subject of books......I bought Alysn Midgelow-Marsden's new book this week.....

I know Alysn as she is the co-owner of The Beetroot Tree and I have worked for her there and attended many of her workshops. This is a fabulous book ....highly recommended! You can see some examples of her work here. The lucky lady now lives in New Zealand, but she visits regularly to teach workshops over here.

Finally......have all you iPhone/iPad users out there discovered Waterlogue app yet? I love it!!!
It's good to post on Instagram too and tag your photos to the Waterlogue link there.
Here are a few of my recent creations.....forgive me if you're an Instagram friend, I know you've already seen them  ;-)

Here's the bluebell/book photo 'waterlogued'.

 My blue muscari and pansies.
A cat we spotted in the churchyard at Edensor...plus my gorgeous white muscari.
And me!......Looking at you :-)  
(Well actually I was looking to see if I'd set the timer right on my iPhone)
Love the way the app has broken up my garden into patterns.....

Time to wade through my Bloglovin feed....I'm way behind.