Thursday, 29 April 2010

Little Moments

(Tulips & Boats ~ Acrylic on paper)


And 'Hello' to lots of scrumptious new followers too ~ thank you for visiting my little blog, it's lovely to have you here!

So...another week drifts by. I have been doing many little sketches in the quiet moments (the ones that appear when small hands are busy with the Play Doh) and I've also been having a little think about my paintings.

I was thinking about Affordable Art. When you are an artist, pricing work is a very Big Deal. You don't want to charge too much and price yourself out of the market, but you don't want to under price yourself either, as for one it makes you look a bit amateurish and secondly the price is not reflecting the time, skill and materials it has taken to produce an original piece. I hope that my work is reasonably priced taking all those things into consideration, and I just wanted to share a bit about that side of my work with you.

As my thoughts wandered on, I drew the conclusion that there are a lot of people out there that would probably love to own an original piece of art, but just can't afford it (financially speaking, it's not been the best of times has it).

So I had an idea.

Affordable Originals.

The picture above is the first one of a little series I'm going to be working on at random (in between bigger pieces).
They will be painted onto Fabriano acid free paper and will come with a mount. And they will all be 5" x 5" square (the image that is) and cost £45.00 which includes P&P costs in the UK.
Do you think it's a good idea?

I won't be doing any prints of these either, they will literally be one off pieces. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this as I would dearly like to make my work available to a wider audience.


The other little artist in our home has also been busy drawing again, and I had to share this latest little gem with you which she drew after seeing lambs in the field:

There she is pointing to the wavy lines and telling me that that is the grass.
I love her little drawings!

Other delicious Little Moments have occured this week. The other morning I awoke early before anyone else and tiptoed downstairs to enjoy the peace and quiet with a nice mug of coffee. As I sat by the window, I noticed a little visitor raiding my wild strawberry basket for Nesting Materials ~ I'm in awe of little birds like that, their tenacious strength and determination to survive and rear little families in the wild...

These beautiful daffodils which were marked 'end of season' have produced gasps of delight from us, their chubby buds opening to reveal petticoat layers of pale cream and buttery yellow petals.

...talking of flowers, I've decided to update my Folksy shop soon with some pretty floral corsages, here are two of them to give you an idea of what Im on about:

...they're made with Rowan wools and finished with a nice hand made ceramic button all the way from a little place in Cornwall. They will come in their own little gauzy turquoise gift bag as well.
I miss making things like this as regularly as I used to, but there are not enough hours in the day!

I also miss making things like this patchwork lavender heart...

...I made this for our home a little while back and forgot to show you!
I don't get chance to get the sewing machine out that much these days actually, my one day of free time is usually spent painting which indulges my creative spirit once a week and that is a Good Thing for now, but for the times in between...?

I discovered that if I didn't indulge my creative spirit, I started to feel a bit trapped and demented. Honestly, I had serious withdrawal symptoms (irritable, grumpy etc as I battled with too many ideas and not enough time to make them real) and so over time I have taught myself how to be creative every day so I don't get those feelings. When my daughter was first born, I struggled enormously with not having time to paint etc, a baby was far too time consuming and tiring for things like that and art was a random thing for a long while. I missed it too.

Since those early days, I have accepted that my time isn't always necessarily my own and I have broadened my horizons (creatively speaking).
Every day I try to do something, even if it's one row of crochet late evening, baking and decorating a cake, finger painting with the Little One, making shapes from clouds, or planting seeds... I learnt from being a Mum that creativity reaches into all manner of corners and isn't about just painting any more. As simple as it sounds it actually took me a while to understand that and sharing creative time with my daughter, and teaching her how to do things is often more rewarding than the rush of joy I get from completing a picture.

And... I have my sketch book for those ideas that absolutely and completely must come out of my head and onto the page at once! :D

I will leave you this week with another big thank you for all your lovely and kind comments, for taking the time to read my ramblings and pop in to see me, it's ever so nice of you and it makes me very happy that you do!
I wish you a Happy Bank Holiday weekend, and hope the sun peeps out of the forcast rain clouds for you!

Sending love
Julia x x x

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Inspiring Myself

Hello there.

Before I begin, I want to say a huge thank you to all of you dear souls who stopped by to wish me and the Little One well. Your kind messages made me feel much better, but alas, although the infection has gone, the head cold remains and we continue to wade through oodles of tissues and slurp nasty cough linctus.

Needless to say, I've been in dire need of a Pick-Me-Up. Being ill usually leaves me feeling quite low energy wise, and often I'm not even able to muster the enthusiasm to do a bit of crochet which is usually a cheerful pursuit in itself...I have only had sufficient energy to stroke the RR fondly and wistfully, and so, I have turned to my sketch books and Inspiration Book in order to lift my spirits these last few days - it's quite a tonic to inspire myself with painting ideas I'd forgotten all about, and to look at gorgeous pictures and recipes I'd previously pasted into my Inspiration Book.

The sketch above was done a couple of weekends ago, before the vile bug struck us down. The sun was shining and it was incredibly warm so I wandered off across the road to do a bit of drawing at the allotments. It really is a fabulous little place, tucked in a little dip below a grassy verge and by the riverside. It teams with plant pots, rickety fencing, old buckets and benches, forgotten cups of tea, spades, tipsy greenhouses (you know, the ones that lean precariously to one side defying gravity) and all other such allotment type paraphanalia...including My Chickens.

I say 'My' Chickens...hmmmm....well, I pretend they are mine dear readers, yes I do. I have a crazy love affair with these plump bronze feathered creatures. I can see them from my bedroom window and often find myself gazing at them strutting about and swooning with delight at their doings. One day, I will have chickens of my own, but for now I am playing Pretend and that is Good for now. I have a feeling, as batty as it probably sounds, a few of you will probably understand where Im coming from on that one :D

So I whiled away a good hour or so there with my trusty Moleskine...

Here is a little hand made bench, quite crudely fashioned out of a plank of old wood and two tree stumps!! How completely delightful!! It was covered in a pile of parsnips that had seen better days, and a rusty old horseshoe.

Going back in my book, I found some of the earliest sketches which I drew in preparation for my Little Red character...

...and some more recent ones from this winter, of blackbirds in my back garden.

And then I dug out my Inspiration Book.
Have you got one yourself? Have you the faintest idea what I'm talking about??

My Inspiration Book is a spiral bound sketch book full of all sorts of stuff, clippings from magazines, recipes, photographs, postcards, lovely websites and so on. It is a treasure trove of wonderful things I wanted to remember, Just In Case.

This little home made book never fails to lift the spirits and get me in a creative frame of mind.

Another example of something that lights the creative fire, is this:

My daughter, although only two, is forever drawing. She has a Doodle Draw (otherwise she would go through an entire ream of A4 paper in a week) and is constantly surprising and inspiring me.

The picture above is of herself, singing in the garden with two Buzzy Bees on two Pretty Flowers.

I love how children are a bottomless pit of enthusiasm and inspiration.

I'm also inspired by Simple Stuff. Little pleasures that we encounter through our days, like the perfect candy floss pink of the blossom against a pure (and clear) blue sky...

...I also like things like fresh bed linen that has dried in a warm breeze,
the scent of fields on a summers evening, heady with that special herby smell you only get at that time of year...
...I like scraping out the bottom of the G&B chocolate spread jar with the long handled jam spoon...
...I like walking on an empty beach watching the sea foam hiss up the sand...


I like this:
It's not finished yet, but I'm perhaps about half way through. Rainbow Ripple is coming on just beautifully and the wool I'm using (Sublime cashmere merino silk dk) is an absolute dream to work with, and so very, very soft.

This is going to be one of those divine blankets that come on lots of adventures with us. One that will get hauled about on picnics, evenings on the beach eating fish and chips out of paper, and snuggling up on the sofa with on a cold afternoon watching something fabulous like Amelie or Chocolat.

Talking of remember in my last post I told you I was going to try and be very healthy and perk up the old immune system?
Well, I have been trying. I've been trying very hard, eating much more fruit, veg and salad than normal and drinking pints of water and herbal tea.
In all honesty I do feel much better, and I've lost 4lb without even trying.


I have to say, all this healthy eating is Good but it lacks something.
It lacks Treats, and in my home Treats are necessary...and an apple just doesn't compensate for a clotted cream laden scone oozing with strawberry jam.

So, after several days of being Very Good and building up the immune system, I caved in and baked apricot flapjacks with the Little One. Oh my goodness, the aroma as it baked of heady rich syrupy goodness...I could hardly contain myself!!!

So a happy medium is reached. Yes, we will continue to eat much more good stuff than before as we feel better inside and out, but we will also have cakes and flapjacks and puddings because life simply tastes better with them than without!

Sending you love, thank you for popping by my blog today ~ don't forget to drop me a 'Hello' if you do, it's always grand to hear from you!

Julia x

Friday, 16 April 2010

Day by Day

Hello dear blogging friends.

I am writing today surrounded by boxes of tissues and am generally feeling a little bit fed up. For the past week, me and the Little Girl have been suffering with a nasty cold. It all started at the weekend when the Little One's cough got so bad she was finding it hard to catch her breath...we rang our on call doctor on Sunday night for some advice, and to cut a long story short we ended up at the A&E of our Children's hospital as the doc was rather concerned....after being examined, she was given the all clear, but a couple of days later we were both still coughing our heads off. We felt things weren't as they should be so headed up the hill to our local doc, who pronounced us both to be with chest infection. Hmmmph.

Still, we have wrapped ourselves up and gone out into the back garden for half an hour today to enjoy the sunshine (which I assume is penetrating through vast swirling amounts of the volcanic dust we have heard about on the news). The skies are strangely quiet - our house is on the flight path to Manchester airport so we often hear and see aeroplanes heading in or out, but not today as all flights are grounded until the ash blows away!

We were delighted to discover our little cherry tree had dressed itself in a frothy gauze of delicious pink blossom! Other parts of the garden are being smothered by juicy purple coloured primroses which originated in my Grandads' garden many years ago...over time my Mum has taken cuttings and replanted and re-homed them throughout the years - they're still going strong here!

Our pot of spring bulbs is looking pretty now the tulips are out too...

...Im sure this variety is called Lemon Meringue, or something like that - I love the colours though, very reminiscent of that tasty dessert!!
So, due to the huge feeling of apathy around here, not much has been achieved art or craft wise - lounging, reading the new Country Living mag, drinking juice and herbal teas and watching Little One draw pictures has been about the extent of the efforts this week. Still, I have a little something to show you, something I made one evening last week before the deadly virus struck!

A little crocheted cuff for a jar!

I had seen something similar to this in a book on Amazon, and quite liked the idea that the coverlet stopped three quarts of the way up the jar instead of going all the way to the top. I added a little ceramic button to finish it off and have been using it in the evenings with a tea light in it - the glow through the crochet stitches is rather pretty but I'm afraid I couldn't get my camera to take a good enough picture to show you.

I made it using Rowan Handknit Cotton DK in white and aqua using half double crochet stitches for extra support (I find HDC work better with things like this instead of my usual double crochet).

I was thinking of making some more of these, and creating little wire hangers from craft wire so I could dot them about the garden when the weather is warm enough to sit outdoors - I imagine they would look quite pretty in different colours!

Being under the weather and not well really makes me crave wellness and getting out and about again as soon as possible. However, being ill again so soon after a recent head cold has made me sit and think a bit - I wondered why I was getting bug upon bug, and like most simple things, the answer was staring me in the face all along.

I was run down (without realising it), I do far too much and my diet is a bit rubbish.

(Well, that's to say there are perhaps one too many cakes in my diet and perhaps not as much of the green good stuff that there should be! :D )

With not much energy to do anything other than sit and ponder, I gave the matter a bit of thought - you could say I did a bit of a Body MOT, looking at my bod as you would a car you can safely say I've been running on a very low fuel tank for rather too long...which isn't good is it?

So I'm making some real changes. Things lie taking time for Me each day (even if it's just a nice soak in the bath) saying 'No' if something feels like it's too much or not possible - eating more fruit and veg (as well as the odd slice of cake here and there) and learning a bit more about the healing nature of food. I have started reading a book about nutritional health to pick up some tips and I'm hooked!! I had no idea there was a whole pharmacy in my backyard!! It's very inspiring and when I'm recovered from this chest infection, I'm going to be planting lots of immunity boosting salads and veg in my garden! :D

So, day by day, I am getting healthier and healthier...this is my positive affirmation to remind myself how important our little Bod's are, that we must love and nurture them as much as we love and nurture everyone else, otherwise they won't work properly.

Well, I've gone on long enough I think for today! I hope you are all well, and next time I write I hope to be fully recovered and full of zing and zest!!

Sending you quiet moments, cherry blossom, peach tea and sunshine

Love Julia x

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Lazy Days

Did you have a nice Easter?

We decided that we would have a rather lazy time of it following on from the somewhat hectic week before! How nice it was to get up on the weekend and bake a pretty scrumptious 'chocca mocca' Easter cake with the Little One (decorated by her good self too) and then wander outside to plant some new seeds. The sun shone on us and we took a break for snacks and juice on the riverside bench, just the tonic after a good spot of gardening!

On Sunday, we got up slightly later than usual (8am - its a real lie in for us nowadays!) and drifted downstairs to discover the Easter Bunny had been and delivered a bounty of chocolate eggs along with a small fluffy version of himself! Needless to say, our Little One was delighted beyond words and proceeded to eat chocolate for breakfast (ah, just this once - as long as you have your orange juice - you need some vitamin C you know...!).
We enjoyed toasted hot cross buns dripping with rather too much butter and big mugs of coffee and agreed that it was a very pleasant way to begin the day indeed!

Having decided to avoid the coast (for two reasons - pretty chilly temperatures had been forcast, and we couldn't be faffed with the queues) we got a picnic ready, picked up my folks and headed off to Baslow.
A nice brisk walk was in order, and although it was bitterly cold the sun shone regardless.

Our walk eventually took us through the grounds of Chatsworth House, it's very beautiful there and one of our favourite places to visit.

Whilst walking along a splendid thing happened. A little covered trailer which was decorated with streamers and Easter bunting etc, had just dispensed the Easter Bunny from a crowd of cheering children on to the ground. The bunny waved and jumped about as the trailer was driven slowly away and our Little Daughter stood transfixed on the edge of the grass watching in wonderment.
And then a Magical Thing occured.

The Easter Bunny turned around and waved at our Little Daughter who waved back furiously...and then, he beckoned her over...

...under a large old oak tree, the Easter Bunny crouched down and gave our Little Daughter a pink packet of foil wrapped eggs, and a cuddle. It was one of those very special moments that none of us will forget for a long time to come.

Driving home, the landscape away to the Pennines was bright and blue, full of scudding clouds that added to the drama of the scenery. You might just see that the hills in the distance are topped with a dusting of snow, to give some idea how very cold it was this weekend!

And so moving on to other things, our Little Daughter wasn't the only one to receive goodies this weekend...! On Saturday, our dear Postie brought an interesting looking parcel for me which I opened to find this inside:

I was very, very lucky to win a give away recently, held by Vivienne at Green Rabbit Designs.
Vivienne makes the most beautiful bags and corsages from her home in Ireland and her blog is really worth a visit, do please go and see her gorgeous work if you haven't before!

And so I held a wonderful package, wrapped in green tissue and gingham ribbon, complete with a cheery card...

...and what's this inside...?
...a surprise package! I wonder what could be in here? Ah, I needn't wonder for too long - little helping hands are at the ready!

Oh yummy!!! Our favourites!!! :D

...and double yummy!!! Would you look at that delicious hand knitted bag!!! It's the most scrumptious colour and the inside is lined with a beautiful contrasting fabric, the stitching is exquisite too!

Aren't I just so over the moon happy?
Yes I am.
I cannot wait to parade this about. Already it is being filled with Life's Essentials so it is ready for it's first outing. Thank you so very, very much Vivienne! :)

On the art front...yes, it's been a tad quiet on there of late due to one thing or another. However, sketches keep occuring at randomly snatched moments and I have a couple of pieces of work I'm itching to get started on. Due to Other Half's Work Stuff I've not had a lot of time to spend on my painting so I'm sure you will understand that I'm climbing the walls with mild frustration - I do need my fix!! Painting, for me you see, is as necessary as breathing, but a little doodling in the sketch book is better than nothing and keeps things gently ticking over...

Until next time...I send you a jam jar of anenomes and narcissi,
a slice of your favourite cake and much love! Thanks for coming to visit me ~ I'm so glad you did!

Julia x

Friday, 2 April 2010

Easter Time

Happy Easter To All of You!

First of all, I must say how overwhelmed I was to receive so many nice comments about the pattern I posted last week. I wonder if any of you have tried it out yet, if you have, do let me know - Id love to hear if it worked alright - and to see any pictures if you have any to share!

Well, this has been one busy old week for us here - hence the late post. I've also had a rather disgusting head cold descend upon me which has brought with it a general fuzziness and hacky cough, not to mention random periods of awful fact as I write this my poor little head wishes it were laying on a nice soft pillow, in a nice warm bed upstairs but no chance of that - there is a Small Person who is demanding I make sea creatures out of Play Doh and so all those kinds of luxury thoughts must be postponed! However, a few moments spent writing to you all is harmless enough, as from my table I can see she is concentrating hard on making an octopus!

So, in the midst of my head cold, I travelled south on Tuesday with the Other Half to meet up with an old friend whom we haven't seen in ten goodness, Facebook is responsible for some rather amazing re-connections when you think about it, isn't it? It was really good to see our friend again after so long, and to meet his lovely wife who I seem to share alot in common with - the only problem was that it was all over way too fast, and before we knew it we were heading north again!

So, it's quite nice to be sitting still after all the driving about, I often wonder how in my Previous-Life-Before-A-Child I used to do that for a living, scooting up and down the country and over to Ireland in the blink of an eye thinking nothing of it! Now, although I love to go away, I seem to like coming home more and more, to all my little home comforts...and it's often the silly things that welcome me home too, the thought of seeing a bag of unfinished crochet on the chair ready to be picked up again, a pot of flowers outside the back door, or just my own pillow to sleep upon!

Well, changing the subject slightly, I have been given an award. I was actually given this a week or so ago, and it was from Coco Rose who's Blog you must visit if you haven't already, its such a lovely one! Thank you very much (and very belatedly) to Vanessa for passing this award on to me!

Anyway...there are some rules, these being that I must pass this award on to seven other blogs and reveal seven interesting things to you about me that you might not know...well, I can probably find seven things, whether you find them interesting or not remains to be seen!! :D

Ive found it quite hard to select seven blogs from all the absolutely delicious ones that I visit, not to mention the ones that must be out there that I haven't even discovered yet - but I'm being a Good Blogger and playing by the rules on this, so I have chosen this award to go to the following people!

Please forgive me if you aren't in this tiny list - it was really very hard to choose and rest assured I love all of your blogs! In fact, right now before I give you Seven Facts, Im going to apologise for being a bit of a lame Blog Bud of late, it's all down to not having much time this week to come and see you, but I do know that, don't you!

So...Seven Facts, let me see...OK, here we go:

1. One of my favourite secret night-time snacks is bread sticks dipped in the Green & Blacks chocolate spread jar.

2. I once lived and worked on the Isle of Wight for a summer

3. I taught myself to speak Spanish

4. I love French cookery

5. I would love to camp in a tipi and have discovered it's quite possible to do it in this country, and in some really pretty places too!

6. Rick Savage from Def Leppard once came to one of my parties

7. I'm quite afraid of heights, but walked the rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede in Northern Ireland and felt very, very chuffed with myself for doing it (the link takes you to a rather fabulous photograph on Flickr of it, if you aren't sure where I mean).

So, there are seven things about me! I'm off now to make Play Doh creatures, and to get myself another mug of tea and perhaps another mini hot cross bun (well, they're rather small so it can't hurt can it?) I hope you all have a Happy Easter Weekend, look forward to catching up with you soon and don't forget to say Hello if you stop by will you, I'll make sure to come and see you if you do!

Much love, chocolate and sunshine to you
Julia x x x

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