Saturday, 18 December 2010

Christmas Spirit


I've been doing a spot of baking this morning - mince pies - and Im topping them with a generous dollop of thick cream, well, you've got to haven't you!!

To be honest, it's been a rather busy old week, what with dashing about Christmas present shopping, working on a commission piece (which involves those materials I showed you last week) and enjoying a very festive night out with some dear friends (and still recovering from it!!).  So it was nice to get into the kitchen this morning, stick the apron on and do something relaxing and satisfying.  There's nothing like a fresh, home baked mince pie served warm from the oven is there?  I used Rachel Allen's recipe from Bake, if anyone is curious! :)

I think it was when the rather huge tin of Quality Street was brought into the house that the Christmas Holiday Feeling crept in too.  A rather carefree sensation has taken over which is very nice I must say; The Snowman is on the DVD player and I've posted out my very last order of the year - which brings me to say... 

Thank You so very, very much to each and every one of you who has visited my little on-line shops this year, and bought pieces of my work; be it cards, prints or originals...I am absolutely so grateful that you like my work enough to buy it, and I hope to welcome you all back when I reopen my shops on the 3rd of January 2011.

Despite all the dashing about, I've still found time to marvel at the Simple Stuff ~ like the reflection of sunlight on shimmery tinsel glittering on a wall...

...icicles glinting in a pink sunrise, hot chocolate after a cold walk, the crisp, creamy crescent of a new moon in a deep navy sky, the silent heron in the river at the bottom of the garden...

 I also love the rainbow bright colours in this glittery chain which the Small One has taken to wrap around her chair at the dining table too!

 I must say I find a lot of pleasure in the Simple Stuff, yes, I really do - and I've discovered that it's necessary to make the most of those moments when life is Too Full to get to the paints, or even to hook a line of Rainbow Ripple.
It's nice to have these tiny moments in the midst of the seasonal mayhem, although it's wonderful fun really with a three-and-a-half year old girl in the house...there is rapturous excitement at almost everything and it's completely contagious!!  This afternoon promises to see some paper snowflake making and if Im lucky, I might even squeeze in a tiny spot of crochet! :D

So - I send you each warm mince pies and mulled wine, tiny moments of tranquility and calm in the midst of the Christmas Chaos - and I would like to wish all of you a Sparkling Christmas and Radiant New Year.  

Thank you to everyone who stops by and reads or comments (or both!) - you are all so very, very welcome to be here and it's always a pleasure to discover that you are.

See you next year...Much love
Julia x

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Walking in a Winter Wonderland...

Hello lovely people!

How are you?  For the British readers here, are you still battling through the snow storms?  Our little village still has about 10 inches in places, and the paths are deadly to walk on with nasty ice everywhere.

Still, I can't help but think how pretty it all looks despite the absolute Icelandic temperatures (it was minus 12 in our back garden one day last week according to our neighbours thermometer).

The dark trees and fragile seed heads look very beautiful against the white drifts, and I do like to see the stark contrast of white snow in the crevices of dark, dry stone walls.
It's been a very black and white world of late, so we were all a bit relieved when the sun came out and it started to melt.  A bit.

To keep spirits up here, and because we had nowhere we could go in a hurry, we put our Christmas tree up on the 1st.  I've never put it up so early before, but the Small One was beside herself, so it seemed to be a Good Thing to do.

Look!! A little crocheted snowman chappie from last year!!

And I'm loving our new vintage style Christmas tree lights, that we bought to replace the set that blew up last year.
They are called Pickwick, by Noma - and they recapture the very essence of my own childhood Christmas tree.  They don't flash and they're not those screamingly bright LED ones that seem very popular these, I confess I'm a bit of an old fashioned soul, and much prefer the warm, nostalgic glow of these and I do like sitting next to the tree of an evening just looking at the colours shimmering on the tinsel...with a nice glass of red wine...and a mince pie...and why not?!

So!  This week has seen me busying about - I was contacted by a lady who is opening a gorgeous new shop called Andrea Willis Designs, who wanted to stock some of my cards!  What an exciting opportunity - Andrea also designs and makes her own wonderful cards, which I love.  If you live in or around Scarborough, you will be able to visit Andrea's shop from Friday 10th December, which is her grand opening day.

Shop stock all ready to go!

You can find out more about Andrea, her work and her shop on her delightful blog, Fin & Gabs.

A quick mention here, whilst on the subject of cards and orders - the 15th December is the last day you can place an order with me for any cards/prints etc until the new year.  Huge thanks to everyone who has already sent for Christmas cards, I'm over the moon you like my work enough to buy it, and I hope you are all pleased with your purchases.  Don't forget, that 10% of all my card sales is donated to The Down's Syndrome Association too, and P&P is free in the UK.

I must admit though, once the hustle and bustle of Christmas has passed, I'll be looking forward to getting chance to design and paint again.  It feels like a long time since I shared the painting Heading For Home with fact, it was started at the beginning of November and I haven't had a moment to return to it yet!

In the meantime, there is something on the cards, that's going to involve this:

A project of a very different kind indeed!  I'm can't say too much about it just yet, but I will be sharing something very special with you in the new year (what a torment I am!).

Well, I have to say that despite all your kind well wishes, my little girl is still unwell - a nasty chest infection it is to be sure, as she had to go back to the doctors and has more antibiotics to take.
The poor little soul missed her Christmas Carol concert - I think I was probably more disappointed than her though at the thought of missing her warbling Away In A Manger in an angel outfit!  Still, worse things happen, at least we are tucked up in a cosy warm house which is the best place to be really!

I hope you are all keeping warm and toasty, if you're iced up and snowed in, do take care ~ for the rest of you who are blessedly snow free, enjoy your freedom and think of us snow bound mortals shivering up north!!

Sending love, warmed mince pies, mulled wine and twinkling lights...

See you again soon, thank you for dropping by today!

Julia x

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

The Winner Is...

Hello Everyone!

My goodness - Before I announce the winner of my Gorgeous Christmassy Giveaway, I just want to say how wonderful all of your responses were - I was blown away by how many of you shared your Christmas moments here, and I enjoyed reading each and every one of them.

I noticed that the majority of us love lots of similar things about this time of year ~ twinkling tree lights, gathering with family and friends, remembering those no longer with us, carols and church services, and one that touched me especially was the comment from Nicole who had premature twins that were not expected to survive...they will be having their very first Christmas this year!  Stories like that bring home what it's all about, so thank you to each and every one of you for making this giveaway so very special.

Anyway...without any further rambling ~ I've just had a little visit to the Random Number Generator and typed in 106 - yes, 106 of you dropped in to take part - pressed the button...and the number that popped out was...

Number 4

Rachael, from Made With Love, you are my winner (big happy smiles!)
Will you drop me a line to tell me which print you would like ~ remember, you can choose from any of the ones on my Fine Art Prints page up to the value of £14.00.  I do hope you see something that you like!

For the rest of you who entered, thank you so much!

This week has seen the arrival of heaps of snow, the heaviest of which fell last night.  I reckon we have about 30cm or so, not to mention the knee high drifts!!  Needless to say, the Small One hasn't been to her school up the village - two reasons:  we couldn't make it, and she has a nasty chest infection complete with barking cough.  To keep her busy, we got to work doing Important Letter Writing...

We're working on the Good Girl part, as apparently nasty coughs create a new level of crabbiness not encountered before!!  

For some reason (it's probably to do with the snow and all your seasonal comments), Christmas spirit is creeping in quicker than usual.  At the weekend, we drove out to Castleton to show the Little One the Christmas trees.  It was bitterly cold, but you couldn't help be inspired by the beauty of Mam Tor covered with a gauze of fine snow, and the bright cheery lights of the trees.  We have visited this village since we were children, and it's a lovely thing to be able to share it with my own wee one...

...just starting to turn on the lights...

...the Three Roofs cafe, and Peveril Castle up on the hill...I love the silhouettes of those skeletal trees against the white sky, and the welcome twinkle of the warm white lights.

Just before I go, I want to tell you about a little offer I have especially for my Facebook Likers and my Blog Followers/ can choose a personalised, hand stamped message for free, when you purchase one of my A5 individual, signed Christmas cards.  Up to 30 letters, any wording you like!!  The stamp is a vintage typewriter style which I think looks lovely - I hope you agree!
You can click here to find out more.

I'm currently busy putting packs of cards together to mail out, so not much time to paint right now. However, I'm delighted at the responses I've had to them - these will continue to be available to order until the 15th December (for UK customers) and for overseas, today is the last date for orders (so I can meet my international post date of the 6th which should get them to you in plenty of time).

Well - if you're still reading, thank you!  Thank you also for stopping by, your visit here is very much appreciated.  I do hope you will drop by and say 'Hello' again soon, it's always a pleasure to see you here!

Sending huge scoops of love your way,
Keep warm

Julia x x x
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