Thursday 24 December 2015

Happy Christmas

I'd like to wish you all a Happy Christmas and thought I'd share some recent sunrise photos with you.  I'm not often up early enough (or am 'with-it' enough to grab my camera), but I did manage to catch these recently.  
 Living in a city, there are always aerials and the odd roof which creep into the frame, but the sky is still the star.
Finally, here's Scruffy (he isn't chilled or relaxing here, he is waiting for a foolish person (usually Chris) to attempt to tickle his tummy.) To do that is to invite untold scratches from some extremely sharp claws...
I'll be posting in a few days about the Twelve Days of Christmas swap and what I received in my parcels...
May you all have a lovely Christmas.  

Friday 18 December 2015

Christmas Cracker swap

I have taken part in Tracey's (Mad About Bags) Christmas Cracker swap for a few years now and it is one of my favourites.  You just have to fill a kitchen roll inside with lots of little gifts and wrap the filled tube in material.  I was partnered up with Melanie of The Patchwork Robin , which was lovely as we had been partnered up before in a different swap, so we had already done a bit of research about each other's likes and dislikes.  I received the lovely cracker above, packed full with little golden treasures...
as well as some printed linen ribbon, two seasonal green teas, some chocolate coins and a genius ideas to make your own apron (perfect colours for me too, with the teal pattern).
 Once the little golden parcels were opened, here's what they contained: seasonal washi tapes; a tape ribbon and Christmas ribbon; a pair of scissors with a scissor lock so they can't be used for anything other than material or thread cutting (!); some rose scented hand cream (which is gorgeous); a fridge magnet all about cakes and a candy cane.
 The linen ribbon is beautiful and I felt it deserved a close up!
 A HUGE thank you to Melanie for being so generous and choosing such lovely gifts for me and thanks to Tracey for organising such a fabulous seasonal swap each year.
 Here's my cracker for Melanie.
Material with a sewing theme, sewing thread, Christmas ribbon, a magnet peg, hot chocolate drink, mini chocolate reindeer, a felt bird, a key ring/bag charm, a pair of earrings and a bracelet.  I thoroughly enjoyed being part of this swap and am looking forward to next year's already!

Tuesday 15 December 2015

Trying something new - Zentangle

 I have always enjoyed doodling - just drawing patterns on scraps of paper, letting my mind wander.  I have given in and tried Zentangle, which is the next stage on to just doodling. Zentangle is a way of filling in shapes with repeating patterns, but the patterns can be as simple or complex as you like and the whole process is supposed to be relaxing and meditative.
 Each of the patterns has a name and there are hundreds and probably thousands to choose from.  I started by following a book, but the internet has a plethora of information on there.
 I do like the organic patterns, but I also enjoy building up a simple pattern into something which looks incredibly complicated.  However, when the patterns are broken down into steps, they seem relatively easy to do.
It is a relaxing process and there is no right or wrong (however, me being a bit of a perfectionist, had to re-do a pattern which didn't fit well into the space I had put it and I was much happier with a second attempt).  The other good thing is that you begin with a square, then split it into shapes and then fill each shape, so you are not greeted with a huge sheet of white paper, which can be a little off-putting.  It is also something that can be done in a spare minute, without lots of equipment - paper, a smooth gel pen, and a ruler and pencil.  Are you tempted yet?

Tuesday 8 December 2015

Twelve Days of Christmas swap

I signed up to the Twelve Days of Christmas swap, organised by Jo at Through the Keyhole who was inspired by a swap she had with a friend last year.  The ideas was to provide twelve gifts, one to be opened every day after Christmas Day.  When I read about it, I thought it was a lovely idea and signed up. I was partnered with Sally from Crafty Northerner and we did the usual emailing to find out about each other and looked at blogs too.  
Here is the lovely box of goodies I received from Sally.  Needless to say, I am excited about them and it will be a challenge for me to wait (but I will!)
Here is the set of gifts I sent to Sally, which I really hope she likes.  I think it is a really nice way to continue Christmas, right through to New Year.  Thanks to Jo for organising and a HUGE thank you to Sally for being a super swap partner.  I shall post about the gifts over Christmas.

Tuesday 1 December 2015

December already?

Here we are in December - where has this year gone?  It's true, the older you get, the quicker time seems to go.  The garden seems to have been somewhat confused too, but this is down to mild weather rather than the onset of middle age.  For instance, the winter flowering honeysuckle, which usually flowers in late January and through February is flowering now.  This could mean that 1. it's just confused or 2. it's going to die and is having one last hurrah.  I rather hope it's the first of these options.  
 In the meantime, the winter flowering jasmine is doing what it should and is brightening up the dull weather with splashes of yellow flowers.
 It has a straggly appearance, but this is partly because I don't train it properly.  I like the cheerful flowers though.
 The cheerful violas in the wall basket at the front of the house are settling in nicely and make me smile.
 Rose Blue Eyes is still flowering, despite the battering it has received lately by the wind and rain.  I have finally started to insulate the huge number of potted plants I seem to have slowly acquired over the years.  Not one of my favourite jobs, it has to be said, but it may help those plants to survive whatever the winter has to throw at them.

Saturday 21 November 2015

4 minutes and 52 seconds of joy

I really like the song 'Uptown Funk', as it is so up beat, so when Chris found this video on Youtube, including many great dancers including Fred Astaire, Eleanor Powell, Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly, The Nicholas brothers and even Laurel and Hardy, I knew I had to share it.  Brilliantly edited and great fun!  Enjoy!  (If you put 'closed captions' on, you'll see the name and year of the films used too.)

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Tulip planting for Spring

Even though it is very mild for the time of year, I decided that I needed to plant my tulips for next Spring.  It is a positive thing to do, as it shows that eventually Winter will end (although it hasn't started yet...)  So, I set to and planted my tulips in pots and tubs.  This year, I have bought:
Princess Irene (the first four photos are from Peter Nyssen's website), to continue my enjoyment of orange in the garden...
 Tulip Negrita which is supposed to be slightly fragrant...
 Tulip China Pink which looks very elegant..
 and Tulip Ronaldo which I have grown before and is a lovely deep purple/black.
Tulip Upstar (photo from vanengelen) was part of my Seasons swap gift, and these have gone into a pot at the front door.
 Of course, I have planted more Ballerina, because it is my favourite tulip and it is beautifully scented. (I haven't got any Red Shine this year - you can see one sneaking into the photo above from my tulips last Spring).
 The mild weather is encouraging some plants to keep flowering.  Above is Rose Blue Eyes (more purple than blue, it has to be said, but very pretty nonetheless), flowering away last week.

Sunday 8 November 2015

Remembrance Sunday

 Here in the UK it is Remembrance Sunday where we take time to remember all those who have been injured or killed in war.  I thought it was appropriate to share my polymer clay poppy brooches, which I have been wearing this week.  I used a mould to create the shape, then highlighted the petals with acrylic paint and added some black glitter to the centres.  I did make a donation to the Poppy Fund, even though I wasn't wearing one of their poppies.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

(from For the Fallen by by Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

Saturday 31 October 2015

Autumn colours

On the last day of October, there are some lovely colours to be seen in the garden.  The star at the moment just has to be the blueberries - Goldtraube and Northland which has the most glorious autumnal shades in their leaves.

 Just beautiful.
 However, there are still the vestiges of summer too, as can be seen by geranium Rozanne...
 ...and a clematis, Princess Diana.
Inside, Chris has been busy with his jam and chutney making and this beautiful orange-coloured jelly is made from crab apples, with a hint of lavender.
The lights just didn't do justice to the golden tones.  He is also making quince jam/jelly at the moment too.  Autumn colour is all around me at the moment!

Friday 23 October 2015

Goodbye Ginny

We had to say goodbye to our much beloved elderly cat, Ginny, on Monday evening.  She had various medical issues and we had to let her go.  She had been with us for twenty-one years, but may have been about twenty-two.
 Here she is when she first chose to come and live with us.  She actually belonged to a neighbour, but decided she liked our house better!
 She decided that the nativity scene was missing just one thing - a large ginger and white cat!
 She enjoyed being out in the garden, especially if we were out there too.
 She sometimes thought she was a ninja cat...
...and found lots of places to hide.
 She liked helping with jobs in a supervisory capacity - here she was checking that the patio slabs were being laid correctly.
 She also supervised my planting schedule each year.

She bravely ventured out in the snow (this photo does remind me of illustrations in Beatrix Potter's 'The Tailor of Gloucester').
Simpkin in the snow illustration from The Tailor of Gloucester - The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter F. Warne & Co 1989
Simpkin in the snow illustration from The Tailor of Gloucester – 
The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter F. Warne & Co 1989

This large pot was her favourite place to sit in the garden.
She was very photogenic.
Here's the last photo of her that I took, sleeping on her cosy blanket, on her favourite chair.  Sleep well, Ginny and thank you for all the joy and companionship you brought us.  We'll miss you.