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


  1. Gorgeous post, and how lovely to have some pretend chickens... our old neighbour used to keep chickens, but someone - no doubt moved out from the town and not caring for proper country life, complained and complained about the noise from the rooster and in disgust he got rid of them all. I miss hearing the old rooster, and watching him strut his stuff. He could walk the walk all right.
    Life without treats, no matter how good and virtuous you may feel about eating the good stuff, just would be unbearable, so bring on the treats.
    And I love your sketch book, and so so wish I could draw. But I have a creative journal/scrapbook thing, and also an inspiration book, though I didn't know that's what you called it! Mine is housed in a lovely fabric cover and was made by a friend, but I would like something smaller, moe portable, to look through whilst sitting in hospitals and so on. I do have a small notebook into which I have copied favourite poems, sayings, lines from favourite books that resonated for one reason or another. I'd like the two combined...
    Keep on getting better....x

  2. Oh what a lovely post Julia! Made me feel all happy and zingy! So thank you so much for that! I'm glad that you are all on the mend, and I would be just like you with the chicken! Actually, I am like that with houses. There is a gorgeous little house on the green that I often just stare at and imagine myself in it. It looks so beautiful and happy and peaceful. Sometimes I even have a looksie on rightmove for the perfect house and daydream when I see my dream one, just for a moment, what it would be like to live there! Oh to dream! I love your inspiration book! I have two HUGE files now and it is ever growing of ideas and likes. I also love your blossom photo. I was just sitting in my car waiting for the boys to come out of school and out of the sunroof there was a beautiful picture of magnolia tree in full bloom against the gorgeous blue of the sky and it made me smile! I have tried so hard to be good but let slip yesterday and today. A life without treats is no life at all! I hope that you continue to gather strength! xxx

  3. Lovely lovely post - glad you are on the mend - its taking a bit of shifting!!! Love the inspiration book. xxx

  4. Great post, loved it all! Your daughter's drawing is fabulous. Your blanket is looking lovely, and I really like the idea of your inspiration book.

  5. Oh Julia your posts are a tonic! I'm with you on the chickens, I would so love to have some. Your sketches are lovely, I especially like the bench with the parsnips. I think your little girl is taking after her Mum, her drawings are great for a two year old.
    And yes, everyone deserves a treat!
    Take care, Vivienne x
    P.S. Thanks for visiting and your lovely comment. :)

  6. What a lovely post Julia, I think you must be feeling better if you're drawing again...either that or just plain fed-up of being poorly! The sketches are great (by you and your daughter!) and I love the look of those beachy photos - but then I would! Love to you x

  7. Hello Julia
    Lovely post!!
    Your inspiration books look amazing'what a great idea-scrap books for grown ups !
    Your daughters drawings are adorable and very impressive for 2.She must take after you :0)
    Jacquie x

  8. Hello Julia! I am so sorry that you are still under the weather. Don't be too hard on yourself with eating healthier. As the days grow warmer and longer you will eat more healthier naturally. I loved to peek inside your inspiration book and sketch book. I find looking at other artists work very inspiring!x

  9. It sounds as if you've found the perfect pick me ups Julia. Glad you're feeling so much better.

    Love all the bird drawings by the way.

    Have a great weekend.

    Lisa x

  10. Wow! The ripple blanket is looking lovely x

  11. What a wonderful blog post! I have housey books packed full of snippits from magazines of room styles, colours etc - I love looking at them. Love the inspiration book idea, may have to start one of them too :-) Wow you little one is very good and doodling. Little sweetpea loves to draw but loves circles and the moment , there are circles on paper everywhere :-) Stunning shot of the cherry blossom there, I posted some photos up of flowers against blue skys too - it is a fab backdrop isn't it.

  12. Hi Julia,
    I'm inspired just reading! Love all your sketches, and who can resist sketching in a moleskine?

    Wishing you back to 100% good health, and of course, chuck in a flapjack or too. We all need the feelgood factor!

    Diana x

  13. Hi Julia,
    I hope this warmer weather will be making you feel a bit better,perfect for sitting out and sketching.
    Love your chicken drawings.x

  14. Your ripple does look good - like it would definitely be good for a snuggle.

    I love all your illustrations and sketch book - there is something wholesome about seeing ideas in the raw.

    take care and hope the head cold clears soon.

    Nina x

  15. We have a doodle draw in the car for long trips but it doesn't work. Every time he finishes a picture I can't bear for it to be wiped so we have to pull over so I can take a photo before he starts the next one! Lovely post! Thanks for popping in to say hello! I think a bit of blog surfing is always an inspirational tonic - just reading eveyrone's everyday stuff. There are so many amazingly creative people out there just doing their thing! t.x

  16. My spirit is soaring, Julia! Thank you so much... I can totally relate to being sick of being sick and not feeling like even picking up a needle.
    I don't even know what touched me most your writing, your daughter's talent, the blue sky... However I do not have a inspiration-book and I felt so privileged to get a peek into yours... I think I might need to start one: 'Silver linings' for 'rainy days'.
    Oh, I love your ripple and i feel i need to send you a pic of mine!

  17. Wow those sketches!! You are very talented, clever lady!
    Ahh a life without notebooks or treats - would it be worth living?
    Hope you are truly on the mend now!

  18. Hi Julia!

    Sorry to hear you are still inflicted with cold. Here's hoping it clears up soon! Thanks for sharing your sketches, I adore the chickens! : )


  19. Hi, glad you dropped into my little corner of the web as now I have your lovely blog to snoop around.

    I was just thinking about sketch books to the other day, I used to keep them while I was at college but somehow got out of the habit. I have snippets and notes to myself all over the house, much to the dismay of my husband (and me if I'm honest) so you've inspired me to start a new one and see where it takes me - this will also help me in my great 'tidy up' plan - hopefully!

    PS your daughter is hugely talented - my 2 year olds pictures are barely recognisable, but still delightful in my eyes! x

  20. Hello Julia

    My name is Mandy and i have discovered your blog only this morning! I am learning to crochet and i have just had a (successful) try at your heart tutorial.

    I just wanted to say a HUGE thank you! :)

  21. Lovely sketches! I'm in need of comfort right now and I really enjoyed reading this post of yours. These drawings on the Doodledraw are done by a TWO year old? Wow, very talented indeed!
    I think you've done so well to eat healthily and in my book flapjack is a health food isn't it? All those oats? Talking of books, I too have inspiration books although I didn't call them this particularly. (I will now!) I have a folder of magazine articles that have inspired me and I cut out smaller images and stick those into my little sketch book. You're so right, looking through these is such a tonic. I think I'll go off and do that today. :) xx

  22. I agree with treating yourself to wonderful foods that you love! And your daughter is only 2? She's a wonderful artist already, just like her mom!

  23. I so want to learn how to make a blanket like this! It's beautiful! Plus the one next to it, is that yours too? x


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