Friday, 30 December 2016

Christmas Cracker Swap 2016

I took part in Mad About Bags Christmas Cracker swap again this year and was partnered with the lovely Glenda from New Zealand (she doesn't have a blog, so this post is for both of us.)  I have taken part in this swap for a few years now and it is always fun to see what you can fit inside a kitchen roll inner!
Glenda and I chatted via email and found out a bit about each others' likes and dislikes and then got going.  Our swaps arrived safely and we decided to wait until Christmas Day before opening them.
Glenda's parcel was wrapped in cheery red and white stripes, with some gorgeous ribbon bunting holding it all together.  
There was so much inside - it was really exciting!
 She had filled a pocket folder with all kinds of goodies - nail files, a bookmark, tags, Christmas sayings, sequins and a tape measure.  As well as all that, there were some sweets and chocolates from New Zealand and a hand knitted dishcloth, a snow globe bottle stopper, a tissue paper flower decoration and a kiwi bird keyring!  Wow!  A BIG thank you to Glenda for her kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity in putting these lovely gifts together.
 Here are my parcels ready to go into their brown paper wrapping.  I had bought some things that wouldn't fit into the cracker, so wrapped them separately.
I sent a ball of Shetland wool from a Lincolnshire flock, some stationery, some UK sweets, washi tape, a polymer clay decoration (made using a Blockwallah stamp), a felt heart, some pearl earrings, a bracelet and some embroidery thread.
Thanks to Tracy for organising the swap and to Glenda for being such a great swap partner.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Merry Christmas

(photo of a cherub from a church in Rutland - post can be found here)
Merry Christmas to all blog readers and commenters out there.  I hope that you have a lovely and peaceful time.

With all the sad and awful things still happening in the world, I am reminded of part one of my favourite Christmas carols,"It came upon the midnight clear" written by Edmund Sears in 1849 (thanks to Wikipedia).

"Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man at war with man, hears not
The love song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing."

The other thing in my head now is part of the Desiderata ("Desiderata" (Latin: "desired things") is a 1927 prose poem by American writer Max Ehrmann - with thanks to Wikipedia again).

"...And whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy."

Good advice to us all in this Christmas season and beyond.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Experimenting again

I have been making some tentative experiments using distress inks (watercolour ink pads) and some pre-printed designs which resist the colour.  I used some blending sponges to apply the colour and I am pleased with my first attempts.  
I think this was my favourite one, which was the last one I did and I was a bit more confident with the technique.  I like the way the colours blend so easily with each other to create other colours.  I have also bought some watercolour brush pens so am looking forward to highlighting patterns and seeing what that looks like.
I have also bought some water based lino printing inks and am hoping to start printing again (I have done a bit of lino printing over the years, for A level Art and Craft and for my Foundation course in Art and Design and I really enjoyed it).  I was inspired by a book, 'Block Print' by Andrea Lauren, which Chris bought and which shows many different printing ideas, including lino and using wooden stamps. I am going to start with making backgrounds for my wooden blocks (I have a Blockwallah birch tree block I am going to use) and see how I get on, then move on to more complex designs...well, that's the plan, anyway.
I just need to get rid of a cold which Chris has given me (thanks for sharing), and then it will be all systems go.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

The cat sat on the mat

One of our two purchases at the craft fair held at Gainsborough Old Hall was this rag rug, made from strips of fleece (the other purchase was a Father Christmas decoration for the tree).  Chris and I both liked the colours and pattern and, as we needed a new rug for in front of the fire, this seemed ideal.  It also suits our eclectic mix of furniture and styles.  It is quite supportive to our arthritic knees when we are sorting the fire out and it also got the seal of approval from Scruffy, who decided it was an acceptable replacement for the old rug. (Please note that yet again, Scruffy managed to have his eyes shut in both photos).
The cat sat on the mat?  More like the cat sprawled on the mat!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Spending the weekend with old friends

Image from:
I have spent a very nice weekend in the company of Rebecca, the second Mrs de Winter and Elinor and Marianne Dashwood.  I watched the black and white film of Rebecca on Saturday afternoon - perfect for this time of year with its atmosphere.  'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again...' Judith Anderson as Mrs Danvers does a wonderful job with the psychological torture of poor little Mrs de Winter. I then just had to dig out my old copy of the book and start re-reading it.  It is such an easy book to lose yourself in and to then have to reluctantly come back into the real world again.

I  also watched the BBC adaptation of Sense and Sensibility (with the cast above, image from on Sunday afternoon, which is my favourite adaptation (so far).  I really enjoyed Emma Thompson's version and braved the cinema to see it, but it does miss out the interview between Elinor and Willoughby when the reader finds out why he left Marianne and what has happened to him since his marriage.  Initially, I wasn't sure about the casting of Dominic Cooper as Willoughby, but the more I have watched it, the more I can see why he was chosen for the role. Hattie Morahan does a wonderful job as Elinor, saying so much with her eyes and expressions. Here's an archived page about this adaptation.

I had seen that contemporary authors were taking part in The Austen Project, where they re-imagine the stories in modern times.  I was extremely unsure about the whole idea - the originals are just so good that they really don't need messing about with, so why develop the project in the first place?  However, I gave in and read the first in the series which was Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope. I'm pleased that I hadn't read the reviews about the book before I read it as they are mediocre.  I enjoyed her interpretation and I think she managed to update the story well - especially given that UK society is not so restrictive for women as it was in Regency times.  I also liked Nancy Steele's 'text speak' - she would speak like that if she was around now, wouldn't she?  I think it was quite a difficult thing to even attempt, so the fact that the author has kept to the story and managed to update it reasonably effectively is credit to her.  However, I don't think I shall read any of the other updated versions - the originals are so much better!