Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Creative Fun

It's amazing what you can do with some crumpled up newspaper, wallpaper paste and paint...

....and how different a boring white lampshade can look when you cover it with patchwork fabric squares...

And it's that time of year to try out a few simple designs for Christmas cards. I used to make cards for everyone, and often used fabrics, cross stitch, embroidery, complicated cards that took a while to make. Then as the list of people to send to decreased, so did my patience for faffing too much, and knowing that most people just chuck the card away, I now only make cards for a handful of friends who I know keep them, year on year.... some of them must have quite a collection after all this time!
But here are a couple of easy and quick designs... the first using washi tapes, the second painted watercolour paper stars stuck to plain card with sticky pads.

They both take about the same time to make, so maybe I'll just do a few of each. Or maybe I'll do something completely different by the time December comes around!

I've also been doing some sketching using the modules from Jenny Maizel's sketchbook club. This is my interpretation of an early Coronation Street... note the grey sky and dark clouds, since everyone says it always rains in Manchester, even though that's not true! And this is a slightly lighter, different row of terraced houses...

I've managed a fair bit of reading, having been given an unexpected second lot of books to review for the RoNAs, both of which were Christmassy tales. I like to buy a couple of light, Christmas-themed novels to read over the Festive Season - I keep telling myself I should read something more 'worthy', like Dickens' A Christmas Carol, but really, that's not what I'm in the mood for at Christmas.

One of the best books read recently was 'Soul of Discretion' by Susan Hill, the latest in her detective novels featuring Simon Serrailler, and as usual, a real page turner. It wasn't a comfortable read at times, dealing with a very sensitive subject, but her writing it such that you just have to keep reading, and I managed this in four bedtime readings. Also excellent was 'The Girls' by Lisa Jewell, her novels never fail to please me I have to say.

The garden is definitely autumnal now, even though two roses, one in a large pot and one a climber, have both put out new buds, which I've bought indoors where they have opened and given off their delicate scent. A penstemon has also flowered again, and looking round, although the ground is spotted with little golden pennies, the leaves dropping from the silver birches now, there is still such a lot in flower. We've put the hedgehog igloo in place now, hoping for a resident this coming winter. There wasn't one last year, but I read an article lately by a man who said his garden had been missing hedgehogs for three years and then one came back, so there's hope.

And although I don't believe in Hallowe'en, I am looking forward to the fireworks display at Castle Rising this weekend. Fortunately we don't get bothered by trick or treaters, they tend to steer clear of where we live, just going round the estate further away in the village, where most of the younger children live.

Anyway, that's me for this time. Hope those of you who read this are enjoying the change in seasons as I am, and don't see it as a depressing time, the run down to the dark days of winter? As ever, thanks for dropping by, and especially if you left a comment.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Christmas dinner and not a decoration in sight!

Well, it's been a while since I posted and here we are in autumn, the season of mists they say, as the photo shows. I love the misty mornings .... but not the spiders webs that always seem to catch me out when I go for my morning walk around the garden.

This last weekend, me and The Mister had Christmas dinner, and there wasn't a flickering candle, twinkly fairy light, sprig of holly nor strand of tinsel to be seen. There were two reasons for this.... first it was his birthday so a special dinner was called for, and secondly, after the debacle of last year's Christmas dinner, when we decided to be brave and try goose and both hated it, we thought we'd have a trial run of something else, new to us. Poussin, spatchcocked to be precise from The Gressingham Duck Company. Oh it was good, served with little sausages and stuffing balls, smoky bacon rolls, crushed root veggies, crispy roasties and sprouts, and will definitely be our Christmas lunch this year. Only it will have the addition of fresh chestnuts with the sprouts, and a special gravy, not your instant granule stuff.

Yes, I admit to cheating with gravy, shame on me. I can hear my Yorkshire granny tutting. But some of it is really good, not as good as the 'real thing'  of course. And I probably wouldn't use it with a roast beef dinner, Yorkshires aren't the same with instant gravy, not compared to the yummy stuff you make with the meat juices.

And despite the drop in temperatures, and probably due to the fact that we had over a week of really warm sunshine nearly all day, there is still lots of colour in the garden, including these, which I grow as companion plants down under the sweet pea and bean wigwams, and which I thought I might play with next year, experimenting with dying wool.

  We have quite a few mature trees in the garden and underneath one of them we are slowly building up a collection of these little beauties....

And in the newly created white border, there is still one lone cosmos plant flowering its socks off, though the cleome and other flowers have all finished.

Again, this is something else, another area I want to expand on next  year. It was only a small area this year, most of the plants were confined to large raised beds having been grown for cutting flowers. I discovered that the Cleome weren't suitable, having sharp thorns and too many unflowering side shoots to suit them to my needs, but boy, do they ever last a long time in the ground. They flowered for months, never losing their colour, but I have to say, the white ones really lifted a rather dull area and so I will concentrate next year on white cleome and white cosmos in a small border, where they will flower long after surrounding plants have given up for the year.

As ever, I've been reading lots, the best books recently have been 'Burnt Paper Sky' by Gilly Macmillan, the story of every mother's nightmare. Rachel is out with her little boy Ben, walking their dog in local woods, when he vanishes. She lets him out of her sight for seconds and he has gone, not a trace. The pace really picked up towards the end of this powerful read, a brilliant debut novel. 'The Turning Point' by Freya North is about seizing the day, making the most of the moment, following your heart. When two strangers meet they have an instant connection, and even though one lives in Canada and the other in Norfolk, they know that somehow they have to make this work. Long distance love doesn't always work, but sometimes, as I know from experience, it does. And a final recommendation, 'Letters to the Lost' by Iona Grey. In 1942 a young woman, Stella, running away from an over-zealous USAF airman, meets another such airman, Dan. The odds are against them, he is a pilot with a one in five chance of surviving the war, but despite this they write to each other. Coming to the present day, a young woman, escaping a violent boyfriend, breaks into a house and discovers the letters and determines to find out more about these people. Along the way she will find love of her own.

I'm also doing lots of sketching having joined Jenny Maizels Sketchbook club, and having great fun with it too. (www.jenniemaizels.com/sketchbook-club) I know that won't work as a link but I don't know how to do clever stuff like that so I just give you the info in case you're interested, someone who likes to draw but isn't great at it, and looking for something different, a change from the colouring books perhaps. I still like to use them, and have quite a collection now.

Anyway, this is enough for now.  I shall be back again, sometime, and meanwhile, thanks for visiting and please feel free to leave a comment.