Friday, 23 March 2012

Easy Mini Bunting, Crochet and Gentle Days

Hello Lovelies!

I've had a bit of a gentle time of it these last few days, having being struck down with the Head Cold lurgy which struck just after Mother's Day and just in time for my Birthday!!  Still, despite feeling pretty groggy and under par, I've managed to sneak in some hooky time and even got around to making something I've been after doing for ages!!!

Before the Nasty Bug descended, we had a rather lovely start to our Mother's Day Weekend.  Saturday saw us enjoying a lazy, unhurried breakfast of poached eggs on rye toast, with fresh juice and hot coffee...oh I do like those sorts of mornings!

(gratuitous photograph of my delicious brekkie)

When we'd finally got ourselves ready, me and the little one did a spot of baking in preparation for Mother's Day ~ we made a special Peyton and Byrne rich chocolate cake, and the wee one made the meringue part All By Herself using the big electric whisk!  I can't begin to tell you how funny she thought it was when I picked up the bowl with the meringue in it and turned it upside down over her head!!!

That afternoon I managed to sneak in some hooky time, for the first time in a long while.  I got out my Rowan Handknit Cotton DK and started to make squares...

The pattern is for a rather delicious bag from my favourite crochet book by Nicki Trench
I started out with a green edging, but despite it being a lovely green, decided I didn't want a whole bag in that shade.  So I tried it with blue:

Much better!

I've got a good feeling about it now it's going to be blue.  It's a lovely looking bag too, and if any of you have got the book it's the Patchwork Bag which needs to be lined.  I've chosen a vintage rainbow palette for this project, which you can see laid out in the top photo and am keeping an eye out for some nice fabric for the inside.  I'll keep you posted with it's progress!

Mother's Day turned out to be a lovely one. I had tea and toast brought up to me in bed, and some pretty flowers.  Small was beside herself with the excitement and later that day my own parents came over for a Mother's Day meal and that chocolate cake which was enjoyed by all.  By nightfall though, the lurg had taken it's hold and I lay on the sofa feeling quite awful.  I'm afraid it's one of those that cling on, and so my birthday on Wednesday saw me snorting into many a tissue and not doing much at all (having not the energy or the inclination).  Despite feeling very under par most of the day, I did start to feel a bit better and at teatime we all went out for a delicious meal to celebrate.

Thursday morning though, the Nasty Head Cold was back with a vengeance and Im hoping it disappears by Saturday as Im away to London ON MY OWN, ON A TRAIN to go to the COUNTRY LIVING FAIR!!! Yes, I'm a bit excited.  I'm also going to be meeting a creative chum who I 'met' on Facebook for the very first time so it's going to be a very good day all round!  Her name is Kate and she paints the most amazing cards and childrens name paintings.  You can find out more about what she does here.

(One of Kate's gorgeous hand painted cards)

So the week has plodded on in a gentle and quiet manner; feeling weary has meant not much energy for much at all, but it did mean I could settle down to make something I'd been meaning to do for a long, long time.  

Once upon a long ago we revamped a tired old Welsh dresser, and I recall how I said it absolutely needed Bunting.

And bunting it now has!

It is really the fastest, prettiest, ridiculously easy sort of bunting to make.  Here's what you need and how to do it:

Fragments of material
Length of ribbon, twine etc
Pinking Shears
Piece of card
Tiny Pegs (which you can buy from craft shops, I got mine from Hobbycraft and they're fairy cheap to buy).

Mark out a triangle template on the cardboard and cut out with ordinary scissors.  Draw around this onto the BACK of your fabric and cut out your bunting triangles carefully using pinking shears.

Use two tiny pegs to attach each piece of bunting to the ribbon.  Leave a bit of space between each triangle before attaching the next one.

That's it.

Simple as, but oh so lovely!


I think it finishes it off a treat, don't you?  I now have ideas of making heaps of this in all sorts of colours and draping it around my house; putting it in windows, along shelves...!  I love it, and it takes no time at all to make, and so very little effort!

That's about it from me for now - I'm away to infuse my congested head with a eucalyptus inhalation...I hope you're all well and thanks for coming to see me today!  I'll be back next week with tales of my trip to London and a bit of Arty News.

Lots of love
J x x x

Monday, 12 March 2012

How to Grow Your Creative Life and the *Winner* of the Giveaway!!!

I've got two fabulous things to share with you today:  My new creativity e-book and the winner of my giveaway draw!!

Last year I decided to write a book.  It was in response to some of the emails that I received from people who had signed up to the Being Creative Project and who were starting to create again for the first time because of the philosophy of the group (you can find out more about the group by clicking the tab at the top of the page).

These emails came from many different people across the globe and they told stories of how years had passed by without them doing what it was they loved; they told of fear taking over and overwhelming the whole process, they told of missed opportunities and of not being good enough.  They told of there not being enough time, of lives being too busy.  As I read all these mails, I knew that I wanted to create a guidebook to show people how they could be more creative, to teach them how to build their creative confidence, to give them the tools to navigate the negative feelings and difficult bits that make us put our things away and give up.

I wanted this book to teach people how to discover their own creative style, how to design their very own creative workspace, how to sell their creations online.  I wanted it to inspire people of all ages and abilities...

And that's how Bloom was born.

Bloom is full of colourful pages and lovely things to download inlcuding worksheets with questions designed to bring clarity and focus.  It also comes with a free Bonus Book which features contributions from four of my favourite creative entrepreneurs:  

Leonie Dawson from Goddess Guidebook

Leonie is a writer, retreat leader, artist and Mama and she lives in tropical paradise in Australia with her family.  From there she creates e-courses, meditations, books and magic which she shares on her colourful and inspirational website which is updated regularly with brilliant blog posts.  Leonie has guest hosted on some top websites including Tiny Buddha and ProBlogger as well as being featured in three of Sark's books including Glad No Matter What.  Leonie is an effervescent goddess who is an absolute glowing light of a soul.

Andrea Schroeder from Creative Magic Academy 

Andrea is an amazing, big hearted, glorious woman who infuses people with courage, magic and glitter.  She shares her creative wisdom from her website Creative Magic Academy, where she devotes her time to encouraging and inspiring others with her deeply nourishing blog posts, her kits and courses.  Learn how to art journal, learn how to map your way to your dream life, drench yourself with possibility!

Emelisa Mudle from Heart Art 

I adore Em, she is a radiant, vibrant woman who just keeps on giving from that big smiling heart of hers.  Based in Australia, Emelisa hosts live workshops and classes internationally, and inspirational online creativity courses.  She also sells wonderfully colourful and uplifting art from her online shop.  Emelisa has a deep rooted passion for helping people overcome their fears to live a truly creative life. 

Louise Gale, artist and life coach.

Louise is amazing.  A British woman living in America, she quit her corporate job to live the fully authentic and creative lifestyle she dreamed of.  As a fully trained Core Energy Life Coach, Louise offers private coaching sessions and online courses alongside kits, meditations and workbooks which are guaranteed to flood your life with positivity and help you live your own authentic and creatively inspired life.

It's a bit of a dream come true for me to finally publish and launch this e-book and it is available for you to purchase for just £4.95 here (or you can click the tab at the top of the page). 

And now...

...onto the subject of my Giveaway Draw which I launched last week.  Remember I asked you to share your favourite children's book with me to enter, giving you a chance to win a signed copy of my print 'Home'.

Well I have a winner for you...

...oh the excitement!  There were so many of you who took part, almost 140!!!

But don't let me hold you in suspense any longer; the winner of my draw is...


If you would like to email me your address details please Helen, i'll get your print out in the post for you!

Thank you so much to everyone who took part, it was really nostalgic reading through all those comments and recalling some of those children's stories that I'd forgotten about.  It seems Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree was a popular one with you, one of my faves too as it happens!  

Anyway, I'd best get cracking and publish this post; there's a sunny garden and a cup of chai waiting for me!

See you again soon, 
Much love
J x x x

Monday, 5 March 2012

On the Journey to a Published Book (oh, and a bit of a Giveaway too)


I've been deeply immersed in my painting and drawing work of late.  I've been spending time working on both this farm animal inspired scene and some line and wash work (featuring rabbits) to send to my agent, not to mention filling my sketch pad with frenzied doodles and notes! 

Since my Focus Meeting which I wrote about in my last post, I've found myself being very motivated and driven, and the ideas for these new pieces of work have seemingly appeared out of nowhere.  This, I believe, is the gift of sitting down with yourself and eeking out what it is you really want to be doing with your life.  I'm a firm believer that the Universe will deliver the goods if you only focus upon what it is you actually want to be doing, believe that it's going to happen and then do what is necessary to get things moving (by which I mean that sitting around dreaming on a soft cushion isn't going to deliver the goods, you have to use a bit of action to get the ball rolling, if you get my drift).

This might sound like hocus pocus to some, but I have living proof that magic and miracles occur when we invest energy and action in ourselves and our dreams.

Anyway, I decided at my Focus Meeting that I needed to invest some energy into getting myself a children's book to illustrate so I contacted my agent last week and told her that I was in the process of creating some new work for her portfolio.  My agent is a very lovely, but very busy lady so I was delighted to hear back from her a few days later with some very uplifting news.

She has had a lot of interest in my work from many different publishers, but due to the economic climate, they're just not producing as many books as they were before and so therefore, competition is high.  This was a huge boost in two ways:  One, I'm delighted that publishers are liking my style and what I do.  Two, it means I have to go that extra yard to make sure that they choose my stuff for their books over all the zillions of other illustrators who are all gunning for the same work!

I love a challenge.

At the end of the email, she mentioned that she had been chatting with a publisher the day before who liked my work very much, and had asked if I had any ANIMAL THEMED WORK they could see which might be useful...

...I nearly fell off my chair.

You may call it serendipity or a miracle (because I could have started to paint anything when you think about it).  I'm still on my journey to getting a book to illustrate but I know a sign that I'm on the right track when I see one!

I'll keep you posted as things progress :D

Meanwhile, Spring is springing here all over the place, and it put me in the mood to host a little Giveaway!


One lucky person can win a fine art print of one of my favourite pieces; 'Home' as shown above.  The print will be titled and signed by myself.
To be in with a chance of winning it, all you need to do is leave me a comment under this post telling me what your favourite children's book was when you were small and why.  A winner will be drawn next Monday.  Please feel free to share this post with your friends and family by clicking on the Facebook, Twitter and Blog buttons below.

Good luck to you, and have an enormously happy week!

Love Julia x x x

**edited to add:  I am absolutely blown away by all your kind comments regarding my journey to getting a book to illustrate - I hope I haven't confused anyone into thinking I've actually got a book to do yet, as I  haven't - but I hope to one day - I just wanted to clear that up and make sure I hadn't given the wrong impression anywhere in my post.  Thank you anyway, for all your heartwarming positive messages, I will definitely let you know as and when things progress!  You're all so lovely x x x
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