Friday, 3 November 2017

Be filled with Wonder and Peace.....and Cosiness

I hope you're managing to embrace this change of season.
I'm so much better at accepting the end of summer than I used to be, thanks in part to the lovely Zoe (Hymala) who constantly inspires me . Although there are thirty years between us she manages to teach me so much and is such a wise and wonderful friend. She truly embraces every season and makes the most of all it can offer.

Then of course there's that new (and now much used) word Hygge that has made us think about the positive side of autumn and winter and how wonderful it can be to focus on making our lives cosy.

So much has happened since I last posted......some good....some not so....

  • My health continues to fluctuate from good to ghastly and back again with lots of stages in between. But I remain positive. (MRI scan coming up in next couple of weeks.)
  • My Mum's health has also been a concern for the past year; she's had a really tough time and is  reaching her seventh week in hospital following a knee replacement plus a fractured femur repair (which at 88 is hard to recover from). Fingers crossed she'll be home soon.
  • I finally have an Etsy shop and am concentrating on my mixed media collages, little festive shrines (dioramas) and calligraphy tags. Its called Occasionalblues. My collages usually have a coastal theme and I like to add items which I've foraged from beaches in Norfolk and Cornwall. 
Here's a sample....

I make these just because I love the process. On bad days when I've not been able to do much else, I've managed to sit in my art room and make these little card boxes and clay cottages. If they don't sell I'll be very happy to just put them around my house  :-)

I'll be listing wooden tags in the next few days....

Which reminds me....I need to go and spray these. 
Bye for now......stay cosy. 

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Nutty Cookies

I posted a photo on Instagram today and promised a recipe to go with it.
As you probably already know, I do my best to eat healthily  and most of my inspiration comes from Joy McCarthy and Ella Woodward ........I'm a big fan of their books 'Deliciously Ella' and 'Joyous Health'.
I'm also currently working through 'The Immune System Recovery Plan' by Susan Blum (and taking copious notes). 

The recipe for the cookies comes from Joy McCarthy's website here 
I have changed it a little and I use a variety of nut/seed butters, including almond, peanut, cashew and tahini. I also sometimes add chopped nuts. 
I love the fact that there's no wheat and no refined sugar (only maple syrup).
Here's another of my Instagram photos.....

The Anthropologie mug is my current favourite (a present from my sister :-) 
The magazine is another favourite....I look forward to the beginning of the month when I know its going to drop through my letterbox.

It's title 'The Simple Things' goes nicely with my word for this year which is..... 


I'm trying to cut back on ideas....
The last one may seem odd....but I have too many bright ideas ;-)  (Thank you Pinterest :-p)
I take on too many classes and workshops.......I spend too much on art materials......I start too many projects. Enough is enough.
I have cleared my workbench and I'm sticking with calligraphy, drawing and photography.
No mixed felting....
We'll see how it goes.
Already my mind feels clearer.
I'm keeping it simple.........

How about you? Do you have a word for this year?

Friday, 30 October 2015

Autumn Love.....

I've never really liked Autumn.
I'm a true fan of Summer..... sunshine, sea, sand, shells....all those s words bring joy to my heart.
But I'm mellowing with age I guess and I'm learning to appreciate the pleasures that Autumn can bring....and I do genuinely love a bright, blue-sky Autumn day.
Above is a digital collage I created last year but didn't put on my blog. The supplies are by Anna Aspnes......I love her stuff.   It's a photo of Dale Abbey; a village not too far away from us and one of our favourite places for walking. We have others; Calke Abbey in Derbyshire, Charnwood Forest in Leicestershire, Shipley Woods near Ilkeston, Curbar Edge in Derbyshire, the Chatsworth estate....... to name but a few. We intend to do more walking and Brian and I have both just bought new Berghaus walking boots...
Their first outing was on Monday ....walking to the top of Beacon Hill in Charnwood Forest.
No blisters yet!

Well, the end of this week couldn't be more different from the is rather dull and wet, but that means I can work in my artroom upstairs.

On the left is a pile of prints from my Instagram gallery that I've just had done at Lalalab (an iPhone app). I'm so pleased with them; the colours are perfect. I used two of them for my latest collages that you can see on the table. Trouble is, they are glossy....which isn't ideal for my work.....I found I was getting smudges on them and bits of glue (I'm a messy worker ;-). So I tried an experiment.

I always coat my collages with acrylic wax when they are gives a lovely finish and protects the paper and fabrics. It isn't really like wax; its more like a cross between a matt varnish and pva glue.....but it does a great job. So, I plucked up the courage to coat the glossy photo with it....thinking it might possibly remove or smudge the ink and be a total disaster......but no; it was perfect!
Below you can see the before and after......on the left is a photo without the wax.....on the right is the completed one. The photo is now more flexible and has a nice matt finish.
As you can see, I get my acrylic wax from Art Van Go. Good stuff!

This one isn't quite finished; a few more seed stitches and tiny brass sequins to go. 

That's it for now.....time to learn more about Lightroom  (I'm working through the Lightroom Begin workshop by Kim Klassen....see sidebar)  I'm getting there.....
I'll leave you with one of my Instagram images.....

Friday, 16 October 2015

A Summer of Ups and Downs

Happy Autumn   And yes....I's been a while  :-)
Summer came and went. Some of it was absolutely amazing......but there have been tough times too.

The amazing bits?
  • Meeting my gorgeous friend Lynne Palazzo (from Canada) for the very first time and spending a few days with her in Cornwall. The four of us got on so well together; I didn't want it to end.
  • Beachcombing in Norfolk......Wells, Brancaster, Holme, Holkham, Old Hunstanton  ......collecting pebbles, shells and driftwood. 
  • Walking in the sunshine with Brian in our favourite places; Calke Abbey, Shipley Park, the Nutbrook Trail, Dale Abbey, Curbar Edge in Derbyshire, Charnwood Forest in Leicestershire.
  • And spending time in our beautiful garden with Angel.

The bad bits?
  • Ending up in hospital on my birthday because some chicken got seriously stuck in my throat (one of the hazards of having an oesophageal stricture). It was rather embarrassing as I was with my husband and friends in our favourite restaurant and they called for paramedics :-(
  • Having to cancel our holiday to Skiathos because I wasn't really well enough (and the insurance company were being difficult). Haven't quite got over that yet.....
  • No proper diagnosis for my balance problem (but ever hopeful).

I have lots more to tell; calligraphy, new photography classes, my Lightroom journey, more stitching, foraging, recipes.................but I'm aiming to keep my posts short.

Back soon......honestly ;-)

Thursday, 30 April 2015

A Belated St Ives Part 2

The past two months haven't been amazing health-wise. I keep losing my balance and I become disorientated  and sometimes dizzy. I bump into things and seem to do a lot of curtseying to compensate for my wobbling.....when we go out I tend to hang onto my husband so people won't think I'm drunk :-(
I have an appointment at a Balance Clinic at Derby Hospital in three weeks; hopefully they will be able to tell me what's causing it (and whether its connected to my other health problems).

I promised more photos of St Ives so here they are. I don't want this to be a wordy post so I'll just add a few for each one:
I always say that St Ives is beautiful no matter what the weather.....we spent a happy hour in Caffe Pasta watching the rain one day. I love the way it gives the buildings a soft, muted appearance.
St Ives harbour beach....Caffe Pasta in the centre of the photo....
 There were some special high tides whilst we were there, such fun to watch and dodge. 
Porthminster Gallery is on the left.......probably my favourite. 
They usually have some work by Matthew Lanyon there.
 Houses on the beach. Wonder how they cope with the high tides!
The famous Sloop Inn. Had a few drinks here....
The view from our little balcony.
 The Seafood Cafe....great fish soup!
 The Digey Cafe......another favourite coffee shop just around the corner from the house where we stayed (you can see pics of the house in my previous post).
Surfers on Porthmeor Beach.
Porthgwidden Beach. Gorgeous early in the morning. There's a coffee shop at the back with a deck.

And finally.......a few little glimpses. 
Brian's whitebait starter at The Seafood and cake at Caffe Pasta.....a scarf I bought in Seasalt....the famous shabby door a few yards from the house where we collection of St Ives treasures.....daffodils and an honestly box by the harbour.....gorgeous soup for lunch at The Digey Cafe.....and the all important warning about the gulls! They are so naughty....

As I'm unable to sit and sew at the moment I've been doing some digital scrapbooking and moodboard stuff . I post most of my work on Instagram these days.....

 I recently read this book (above), recommended to me by Sarah at Paisley Rain Boots
Its wonderful.......if you get a chance - read it.

(Most of my digital supplies are by Anna Aspnes and Katie Pertiet)

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'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 truly felt like spring :-)

Today's blues......