Thursday 24 June 2010

Days Full of Sunshine


I've been busy painting this afternoon. I've been having a play with my watercolour paints and enjoying myself with this little camping scene. I admit it, I'm very inspired by the current camping excitement that has swamped our little house of late and so it seemed quite natural to create a picture with a camping scene in it. There's quite a bit to do to it yet, but I have decided to do this blog post after having a small argument with the trees in the painting (that is, they weren't going to plan) and I find it's usually a Jolly Good Idea to come away from a picture when I feel cross with it, otherwise I usually spoil it.

Oh I do love painting, why oh why weren't we blessed with more hours in a day than what we've got - as I never seem to have enough time to do enough! It's absolutely not possible to paint a Proper Picture when the Little Bean is about, as quite naturally (and rightly so) she wants a turn, she wants to do a picture, and of course she wants to help Mummy with can imagine it can't you?

So painting is still very much an As-and-When sort of occupation, and I'm beginning to feel that when she begins her little pre-school sessions in September, I might just be able to manage to squeeze a few extra hours in each week while she's there...Lately I am sensing a big urgency to paint more and more, I have Little Voices telling me it is Very Necessary to build up my illustration portfolio to bursting point. And I have to listen to those Little Voices as they are generally right.


Summer is still very much in evidence in this little corner of Yorkshire. The sun has been blazing hot and we have been gifted with stunning blue skies.
Summer to me is an excuse to indulge in certain things.

Things like this:

We had a little baking day the Little One and I, and this was the result of our efforts...the lightest, most scrumptious scones (thanks to Queen Nigella's recipe) ~ onto which we lavished Roddas clotted cream (hastily purchased by the other half on his way home) and generous amounts of strawberry jam.


That's all I can say. :D

As well as nice things to eat, the sunshine has created an explosion of delicious colour in our garden...

Oh I do love this time of year!! Everything is so colourful and alive. Our hanging baskets are a feast for the eyes and the tastebuds - we have tiny wild strawberries growing in one and cannot help but pinch them as we pass!

On Monday we decided to celebrate the solstice by having a special picnic tea. We drove out to Fox House and set up our rugs by the little stream that twists and turns, gurgling it's way into the valley. We told the Little One that she could have a late night as a treat and she was delirious with excitement! A picnic, a late night AND a place to paddle!

It was a relief to stand in the cool water, splash about and plop stones into the deep bits. It was still 27 degrees at 7 o'clock...but by then, someone had had just about enough...

There is something so very special about the Summer Solstice...

...and that night, I went to bed with the curtains and the windows wide open. There was a warm breeze blowing, filling the room full of the scents of, grass, and a slightly peppery scent that you only get when it's been really boiling hot. It was still light as I drifted off to sleep.

Now, I'm changing the subject a bit here - this is one of those rambling sorts of posts full of all sorts of things isn't it ~ are you still with me? Well done if you are!
Well, I can finally show you my Pot Holder that I was telling you about last week. As you know, I sussed out that I'd been using the wrong sized hook and after starting again and persevering with a teeny tiny (very fiddly) 2.50 hook, I came up with this:

I created it from a pattern in one of my Japanese crochet's this one here.

It's ever so slightly bigger than the 15cm it says it ought to be...but I don't mind a bit!! I am rather thrilled that I managed to navigate a symbol only pattern in a Japanese book and come up with it at all!

Here's the back:

I'm wondering if to take it camping with me...or is that going a bit too far? ;D

Well, now I've had a rather lengthy chat with you on here, I suppose I'd best get back to my painting! Look, there it is on the table (aka my studio)!
Hopefully if the trees behave themselves and turn out how I want them to, I will be able to share the finished piece with you next week.

Best get cracking!

Have a lovely weekend folks, thanks for dropping by!

Love J x

PS: OOH! Almost forgot - thank you so very much for your excellent and helpful camping tips on the last post ~ please send more if you think of any won't you! x

Thursday 17 June 2010

Summer Living


Summer is here!! I know this because there are plump and juicy little apricots in the grocers shop, with that beautiful rosy blush on them. It is little things like these (and donut peaches which I'm still on the lookout for this season) which bring a deep sense of delight and peace for me...these little fruits mean the weather is warm, its a succulent time of relaxed pleasure and exquisite flavours...its time to enjoy raspberries and strawberries at their best with heaps of glorious vanilla ice-cream - or better - with clotted cream, all piled generously on top of a freshly baked scone!

Mouth watering yet? Thought so!

Our little allotment patch in our tiny garden is beginning to show fruits of our labour, which began way back in January when there was snow on the ground and we eagerly looked through seed cataglogs deciding which tasty treats to try and grow this year.

We chose quite a few different things but planted only a few of each (due to space being small) and we are happily watching our crystal lemon cucumbers grow from struggling seedlings into strong little plants, alongside dwarf courgettes which are already showing off their trumpety yellow flowers. Runner beans are making an appearance amid the Love in a Mist, and the broad beans are full of flowers which we hope will make for a good crop!

There it is, our little patch behind the bench there - and already we have been enjoying the salad leaves and radish...oh my goodness, I've never eaten a radish like it!! Nothing like those watery and tasteless specimens in the supermarket - my goodness, these are crunchy and peppery and utterly delicious!!

Of course, this sudden spell of nice weather (after the appalling torrential downpours here) means we can eat outside!! Oh how I love eating outside!! There is something very relaxing about sitting and eating a meal to the sound of birds singing and the river gurgling away down the garden. It also means I can indulge myself with my napkin obsession (I seem to collect pretty packs of them when I'm out and about) and I love to bring out the brightest ones to enjoy! Does anyone else do this? Get excited about napkins I mean? I know, I'm probably ever so slightly mad for doing this, but putting pretty napkins in the basket for al-fresco dining just makes me so happy!

Anyway, that's enough waffling on about food and the like - I was really hoping to share some new crochet work with you today folks. Yes, the other evening I spent a couple of hours making a pot stand from one of my Japanese crochet books. I know a few of you have these books yourself, and will know that despite the instructions being in the Japanese language, the patterns with the crochet symbols are really quite easy to follow...sort of... :D

So I started...and a bit later on I realised my pot stand was getting a little bit TOO BIG.

Oh dear...I checked the pattern, and after a bit of investigation discovered that the Japanese hook number 4 is in fact a UK 2.5 (this took some trawling on the internet and a blessed discovery of a gorgeous blog called One Pink Plum which helped a lot)...and so, I had to undo the lot as it was starting to resemble a table cloth rather than a pot stand. I haven't had chance to redo it but now I have a bit of good Japanese hooky size info under my belt I am now ready to give it another whirl.

So I'm very sorry, but no crafty pics this week.

However, something else that has got me demented with excitement as you will perhaps know from last weeks post, is this camping lark.

Well, a pitch has been booked with some good friends from Devon in the heart of the Cotswolds!! WOooHooo!
We haven't actually bought our tent...yet...but we will! We have found it, its a beauty and we cannot wait to go and get it next week all being well. In the meantime to quench our appetite we have invested in a camping lantern, a good comfy blow up mattress and this:

...which is utter drool fodder it has to be said, and at this rate i'll be camping every week if the pictures are anything to go by!

Now, I have to say thank you to the ones of you who were most forthcoming with advice and stories of your own experiences - if anyone else would like to share any camping wisdom I would love, love, LOVE to hear from you!! I like that you all mostly think that camping in comfort and yes, even in luxury is necessary these days, and I have to confess to absolutely not being a Bear Grylls type of camper - no way. Its not me, I like to be warm, cosy, comfy and that's not a lot to ask. I want to roll off my humongous mattress from under my lovely duvet and eat a croissant of a morning with a pot of nice fresh coffee - I'm not going to be arguing with a camp fire and picking slugs out of my mess tin...hang on...mess tin? Oh my goodness, not on your nelly...we will be dining in style my friends, and somehow after a jaunt to John Lewis this week, this little lot came home with me:

I fell in love with it - there is something faintly retro and reminiscent of something we had like this in our childhood - can't quite think exactly what but it just screamed CAMPING at me, so I had to get it!!
There is now a small pile of Camping Stuff mounting up in the corner of our dining room. I get such a marvellous feeling each time I see it and to think that we will soon be road testing it on our first ever jaunt, which takes place mid July and I'm just hoping that the weather is kind to us, but this being England, who can possibly tell?!

Anyway - it's almost teatime in our little house! I had no idea of the time but the Small Person has just told me in no uncertain terms that she is beside herself with hunger, so I'm off to cook something that we can eat outdoors, listening to the birds and the gurgling river....

Have a gorgeous weekend!

Much love
Julia x

Thursday 10 June 2010

All Things Bright and Lovely


Before I even begin this post properly, I have to say a big Thank You to every blinkin' one of you for all the kind, generous and heartfelt comments you left for me on my last post. My goodness, I cannot begin to explain how much they helped and how they lifted my weary little spirits. In a nice way, it was good to read that others out there had found themselves in a similar situation, or felt the same way as me, and the advice offered and shared was just what I needed, as well as that comforting feeling that someone else out there understood, and it wasn't just me going ever so slightly bonkers.

So, things have got better, by which I mean I have found a certain happy medium with Life at the moment. Of course there are certain things I cannot do immediately, like move to the coast as we are very much having to stay here for the present time due to lots of different reasons. But...and this is the lovely part - we (me and the other half) have had some wonderful conversations of late, and have both agreed that at some point in the next few years when the time is right, we would both LOVE to make the move to the coast (although which part is still under discussion) at least, if nothing else right now, we know we are all on the same piece of string. Which makes me a lot happier and quite excited when I think about it.

Anyway. You might be wondering what those little crocheted balls are all about? Well let me tell you. After an awful creative dry spell I found myself reading Coco Rose's blog, and saw a photograph of a beautiful pile of crochet she had made, and suddenly, it was as if the tap of creativity had been turned back on and I suddenly had a big desire to get hooky again (having not touched any since completing the Rainbow Bolster).

Thank you dear Vanessa for being an inspiration this week, as from seeing your photograph these little crocheted beads appeared, and from the beads appeared this:

...a very colourful crocheted bead necklace, on which you can move the beads about, like so...

...and then wear it like this too! There is a pattern for the beads in the book Vintage Crochet and its really quite easy to follow.

I would have been a model for the necklace but I'm wearing a rather colourful top today and it clashed something rotten! However, it does look quite fun once on, and I would now like to attempt a bracelet to match, using the little beads next!.

Having brightened myself up with a bout of crochet, I was rather glad to find Country Homes & Interiors mag bursting at the seams with All Things Bright this month. I don't always buy this, but it promised to be the Coastal episode, and you know what I'm like when anything ever so slightly sea-sidey is mentioned!!

Just look at the deliciously stripey bedding on the left there!! I want it right now!! It reminds me of the sweet colours you find in seaside rock shops!

And just look at that gorgeous table!! I'm loving these gloriously cheerful bright glasses and bowls!

But this was the swooning moment for me...ah yes, coastal style. Don't you just love it?

I could quite happily live here you know, by the sea, in this little house...

...and after chatting some more about coastal living, we had a little idea. A tiny gem of an idea, which would instantly alleviate any feelings of being landlocked and trapped, an idea that would lead to all manner of adventure and delight and mean waking up to the sound of the sea whenever we wanted to..

We have decided to invest in a tent!

Oh my goodness, I cannot tell you how giddy with delight this makes me feel! I remember camping as a child and loving every minute of it, although as a Grown Up Person I think I may have to succumb to some Camping Luxuries to make it a bit more comfortable. I've thought long and hard about roughing it and I'm afraid I'm what you might call a camping snob - yes, I'm probably going to be taking my own pillow and duvet (or at a push a very soft and cosy sleeping bag), and will probably invest in some pretty flowery melamine to make it all a bit more homey. I can't do rough, I'm not cut out to be a Bear Grylls sort of camper - I'm going to be taking my espresso pot aren't I...I can just see it all now!

This idea has propelled me into Happy Land like I cannot describe. Perhaps in a few years, we might upgrade and get a little caravan (another dream for the list) but for now this suits us fine, we both want to do it, and the Little Person is just at the right age to appreciate what a hoot it can be!

What could be better than pitching up next to a beach, and taking an evening stroll...

...and then wandering back to gaze at the stars in a proper inky black night sky?!

I can't wait.

Thanks for stopping by today, have a great weekend.

Much love
J x x x

Friday 4 June 2010

Restless Days

Hello dear souls.

You find me in a restless and wistful state of mind at the moment. Do you ever feel like that? Like you can't settle long to any task, that life is held in limbo somehow, and the mind wanders aimlessly to places far away and lends itself to dreaming quite a lot.

And add to that mixture, unsurprisingly, the creative juices seem to have stopped flowing. All dried up, nothing doing.

Oh dear, it's a funny old state of affairs when life suddenly goes all tipsy like this without warning, and all the comfortable normal stuff is suddenly quite bland and very uninteresting.

I find my weary little mind asking some rather Big Questions too, about whether this part of the world really suits us any longer, but if it doesn't - what then? I find myself hankering for my life by the sea again, having a beach on the doorstep and always being amazed by that. I know, some of you may be reading this and thinking 'yep, we'd all like a bit of that!' but this thought is starting to drive me to distraction and the feeling of being landlocked in the middle of the UK is sending me quite claustrophobic!!

I don't want this to be a maudlin post, but I want to be a real person here and share what's really happening in my little world. Im going to continue musing, listening to the things that keep popping in my mind and see what evolves.

In the meantime, whilst my head is firmly ensconced in dreamland (where I live in an arty and bustling little beachside abode) I will share with you some pictures of some new Hand Illustrated greetings cards.

These are pencil and watercolour drawings on Canson watercolour paper,which has been mounted onto a blank white card, titled and signed...

...and both of them are available in my Folksy and Etsy shops ~ the links are in the sidebar :D

Similar cards have sold well before in the little gallery in Lincolnshire, and apparently some people like to buy them to frame as they are in effect, tiny original paintings!
I hope you like them!

This is quite a short post today, (a day later than usual my friends as yesterday I was to preoccupied to write anything) as Im off to town very soon. I want to welcome some new followers who have joined my blog recently and to thank you for stopping by with such nice comments - Im still in awe of the lovely people I have had the pleasure to meet through blogging and Im looking forward to meeting many more - oh, I must apologise too, been a bit poor on Blog Visiting this last week, but hopefully this post may go a short way to explaining why.
Hopefully normal service will soon be resumed and life will soon find a scoop of normality from somewhere to relieve this unsettled feeling.

Til next time, sending mucho love your way...

J x
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