Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Contrasts in the garden

 The garden is slowly moving into autumn, though there is still some colour about.  The other morning, I put the bird food out and saw these amazing cobwebs covered in dew, so rushed back inside to get my camera before they disappeared.
 I think they would be most at home in Miss Havisham's garden.
Cobwebs are the most wonderful constructions and yet we can destroy them in seconds.  I must admit I don't much like walking face first into a cobweb - the strands do cling so much!
 Just to show that there is still colour about, here are some photos of Cosmos Sonata, grown from seed and one of my very few successes this season.  I wasn't sure where to plant them so shoved them into a pot in June.  They just sat there and sat there and grew foliage and grew taller, but no sign of any flowers.  Then, at the end of August, a few buds started to form and eventually, they opened.
 I only had six plants, but they have been beautiful
 This was the view last week before we had the frost.  I was convinced that they wouldn't survive and I would have to remove a soggy mass of plants.
 Here they are again, this morning.  They look a little battered, but are still hanging on.
Another view this morning.  I have been delighted by the vibrant colours and have ordered more seeds of this variety for next year.  I know that it is only a matter of time before the frost gets them, but until then, they continue to lift my spirits.

P.S Don't forget to enter my blog giveaway - closing date on Friday 2nd November.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

A typical shopping trip?

 Chris and I took the opportunity to go up to the touristy end of town yesterday, to take our time browsing the craft shops, antiques shops and other such lovely places that we don't get to usually.  I came home with a very eclectic mix of things, as you can see.  I bought the book on making beads as it has felt and polymer clay in it, as well as paper, metal and glass, which I will probably not be investigating, but it is always good to have inspiration.  The other book appealed to the nosey side of my nature, being made from women's letters over 800 years.  I shall look forward to curling up with that later.  There are also some purple and white patterned napkins which were languishing in a 'each item for £2.00' basket, so I had to buy them, didn't I?   There are also some circle cutters for making bigger polymer clay pendants, some beads and a candlestick.  (Not exactly a normal day's shopping - even for me).
The stripy beads caught my eye for macrame work and I couldn't resist the cubes of coated haematite which the camera doesn't really do justice to.  In real life they are vibrant golds, blues, greens and pinks, depending which face you look at.
The piece de resistance of my trip just has to be this sweet little candlestick.  I stood looking at it for quite a while in the shop.  The raised flower pattern caught my eye and then I saw the gold pattern on the black background.  Once I had asked to look at it and was holding it, that was it, I had to buy it!
 How could I resist this beautiful gold dotty pattern?
The little raised decoration flowers are so pretty, in blues, purples, pinks and yellows.  Once I got it home and carefully washed and dried it, I looked it up on the internet.  (It is at times like this that I really value the internet). The piece was made by RH and SL Plant Ltd between 1936 and 1947 and is Tuscan China although I haven't yet discovered what the pattern is called.  They made many, many teas sets in lots of patterns, but did seem to favour the floral.  I think my mum owns one with a love-in-the-mist pattern and I will have to check that next time I visit.  The factory was in Longton, Staffordshire and continued until 1972 when Wedgwood took them over.  The factory closed in 2006.
This little candlestick is definitely my favourite find of the day!

Welcome to a new follower, Melissa.  I hope you will enjoy reading my blog.

P.S Don't forget to enter my giveaway - closing date 2nd November.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012


To celebrate my 400th blog post (which you may have noticed me mention a couple of times!) and say thank you to my loyal followers, I am having a Blog Giveaway.  There will be three sets of giveaway gifts of a macrame bracelet similar to the one above...
...and a handmade, handfelted heart, similar to those above.
All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is to leave a comment below, saying you would like to be included in the giveaway.  You don't have to be a follower to take part, but it would be lovely to welcome you if you wanted to be.  You don't have to do anything else - easy, eh?
The closing date will be 2nd November 2012 and I'll either get Chris to pick names out of a hat, or if there are lots of entries, I may even try using the random number generator thingy that seems to be quite popular.
Good Luck!

Giveaways and swaps

I was very lucky to win a blog giveaway over at  http://mrsthomasinatittlemouse.blogspot.co.uk and here is what I won.  I love receiving parcels and this one was all squishy and lovely.  The owner of the blog has just visited Cologne and had bought lots of goodies that she was very kindly giving away. 
Here's what I won.  Some Christmas spiced tea, a felt star, a felt key-ring and a felt ball coaster, which I think is far too nice to be used as a coaster and needs to be displayed as a piece of art!  Thank you very, very much to Thomasina; you are so generous.
I have also signed up to a Christmas blog swap run by Tracy of Mad about Bags http://madaboutbagsuk.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/a-cracker-of-swap.html which sounds really good fun.  I am looking forward to finding Christmassy things and other little bits and pieces to fill the inside of a kitchen roll with.
News of my own blog giveaway to follow...

Monday, 22 October 2012

My 400th blog post - Polymer Clay: I'm hooked

 My polymer clay journey has been progressing very happily and I can now say that I am hooked on it.  I have used my clay rolling machine which makes blending colours and rolling nice thin backgrounds a doddle.  Above is my other new piece of equipment which is my absolute favourite - an extruder.  You cut out little circles of clay in whatever colours you would like, place them into the extruder tube, choose a shape, in this case, square, which goes onto the front and then turn the handle.  The clay is magically turned into a long cane which, when cut, reveals the most gorgeous patterns which alter all along the cane.
 Here are the lovely purple patterns made by the extruder, placed on a base and ready to be made into jewellery.
 More patterns, including fuchsia pink shades.
Here are a few of the finished pendants which just need attaching together, and putting onto a necklace.  I am so pleased with the lovely patterns and what is even more lovely is that they are all original because I don't think I could mix exactly the same colours, or put them into the extruder in the same pattern again.  I can see this turning into a bit of an obsession...

Saturday, 20 October 2012

The Paper Cinema's Odyssey

 Chris and I experienced the most amazing piece of theatre last night.  A friend recommended this show to us, partly due to the use of puppetry but also for the magic of the performance.  We had had a busy day and weren't really in the mood to go out, but I am so glad that we did.  The story is based on Homer's Odyssey and is performed using beautifully drawn cut outs, lighting, and live music, played by multi-instrumentalists.
The puppeteer drew some of the characters in front of us and they were shown via video camera on a big screen.  Both the puppeteers sat on the stage, as did the musicians and it was difficult to know where to look as there was so much of interest going on everywhere.
I was a little concerned by some of the audience who were quite loud as we went in, but once the performance started, they were as transfixed as we were and you could have heard a pin drop.
There was no dialogue, but the music and artistry of the puppeteers created all the moods that were needed.  The musicians were extremely talented and some of the instruments used included a drill, a saw and a train whistle which doubled up as an owl hooting. The saw in particular gave the most beautiful ethereal sound which really added to the whole experience.
If this production is coming anywhere near you, please try to see it, as it is a truly unforgettable, magical evening.  The website - here - has a little taster video of the show if you scroll down. 

Monday, 15 October 2012

Macrame latest

 I have learned a new way of adding non-circular beads to macrame and was eager to have a go.  I took the previous bracelet with these stones in it apart, as I wasn't happy with the cord which didn't seem strong enough to support the stones. This latest technique is called floating stitch/knot as the stones sit above the macrame and are held in place by one strand which is lifted up and then incorporated back down again.
You can see the way the stones are held above the macrame in this photo.  The stones are blue sandstone, which is made from glass.  I do think this is a much better way of incorporating them than just knotting them on one strand.  The next technique to try will be the herringbone/fishbone stitch...

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Extra blog swap gift

Here is a photo of the extra gift that I sent to my blog swap partner which I said I would post once it had got to her.  I saw this mug after I had sent the swap parcel, but thought it was so appropriate, I just had to send it.  I also included some hot chocolate and a second pair of earrings so that she can ring the changes (but forgot to take a photo of them).  The items all arrived safely and she was very pleased with them, so that is good.  

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Autumn sun

 We have been so lucky yesterday and today as we have had sunshine and the bluest of blue skies.  The combination of Helianthus Lemon Queen against the blue sky never fails to lift my spirits.  This year in particular, the Helianthus has been fantastic.
 I watched a plane leaving a vapour trail.
 Magnolia Lilifolia Susan's yellowing leaves looked beautiful against the blue.  I don't think even a Mediterranean sky could beat ours today.
 The butterflies, bees, wasps and other insects were also enjoying both the sunshine and the ivy flowers.  Ivy can be a thug and trying to keep it under control is a never-ending process, but it does have the benefit that insects love the flowers and birds love the berries.  I saw Red Admirals...
...and I was really pleased that this Comma butterfly stayed still long enough for me to take a photo.
The sky has lightened up now and clouds have interrupted the clear blue, but what a beautiful couple of mornings.

Hello to Lynne Mackay - welcome to Feltabulous.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Home made jam

It all started when Chris asked why I didn't eat his blackberry jam.  I replied that I wasn't that keen on blackberries, except in a crumble, but if he made some raspberry jam, I would definitely eat that as it is my favourite.  While visiting Mum and Dad on Sunday, we picked some raspberries and apples.  The raspberries and two apples were destined to become jam.
The jam was duly made and had the most lovely colour.  Chris added the apples as we didn't have quite enough raspberries for the recipe.
 The jam had a lovely rich jewel-like colour - I was very excited about tasting it.  It reached setting point very quickly (Chris used jam sugar which has added pectin, and no doubt the apples helped too).
 Last night, I had the very good idea of making scones and getting some cream, which is what I did today.
It is amazing to think that the raspberries and apples were still on the plant/tree just two days ago.  The jam is delicious and has an extremely good set on it too.  Yum!