Monday 25 December 2017

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas to all blog readers and commenters out there (who celebrate this festive season). 

As has become a tradition on my blog, I again quote from one of my favourite Christmas carols,"It came upon the midnight clear" written by Edmund Sears in 1849 (thanks to Wikipedia).  The words remain as relevant and poignant now as they were when they were written.

"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."

As a counterpoint to all the tragedy and sadness which we all know about on such a regular basis, here is a part of the Desiderata ("Desiderata" (Latin: "desired things") which comes into my head every now and again.  It 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."

It is still a beautiful world despite everything and there is a lot of good out there. 
The photo above was taken yesterday and shows my camellia Yoimachi flowering for the first time.
I hope that you have a lovely and peaceful Christmas and New Year.

Sunday 17 December 2017

Nice things - sheep and embossing folders and Brusho Paints

I recently made two sheep for my good (virtual) friend at Elephant's Child who has been a wonderful support to my blog and who had expressed a liking for the needle felted sheep I had made for my craft stall.  I felt that she should have some of her own as a thank you.  They arrived safely with her in Australia and she very kindly featured them on her blog post for today.
 I think they made her smile.  I am going to be making lots more sheep in the coming year!
 I have also been playing with new things, like embossing folders on satin board.  For those not familiar with embossing folders, they are a plastic folder which has a pattern on the inside.  When they are run through a die cutting machine, the pattern is pushed into the paper or card and it looks like my examples above.  The ones I used above are really detailed, but the detail has come through really well.  They will probably be used in card making projects.
 I have also finally got round to playing with my Brusho paints.  These are a highly pigmented form of watercolour paint which come in little pots.  They are in a crystal form, so for my first experiments, I wet the paper and sprinkled a little bit of the colour out - you have to make a hole in the lids and shake the pots.  The crystals immediately spread out and formed rather lovely patterns and colour mixes.  I did find that they stained my fingers a bit so need to be aware of that (the colour did go after a couple of days).  Adding more water helped the colours to blend, but I found I needed to be careful as too much water made them more difficult to control and I started to lose some of the lovely effects.
They can be used as traditional watercolour paints and there are videos on Youtube to demonstrate lots of other effects.  I like the effect for the background on a card, and I also like the way each one is unique as I would never be able to get the same image twice.  I hope to do more playing over the Christmas break.

Sunday 10 December 2017


 Like most of the UK, we have had snow.  This was the scene looking down the garden this morning.  However, we were luckier than a lot of people as the snow hasn't settled and has pretty much gone now.
 I like the snow to look at, but don't like it if we have to go anywhere.
My poor box bushes were looking a bit chilly!
There was just one thing to do.  Light the fire and settle down in the warm to write some Christmas cards.  So, that's what I did.

Sunday 3 December 2017

Seeing Robert Webb

Last Friday night, we went to see and hear Robert Webb reading from his book, 'How not to be a boy' and being interviewed at the local City Library, as part of a tour.  For those who don't recognise the name, Robert Webb is a comedian ('Peep Show', 'Back', 'That Mitchell and Webb Look'), but he is proudest of his writing - for the comedies mentioned and work for other comedians too.  While Peep Show is not really my cup of tea, it has been very successful.  I did watch and enjoy That Mitchell and Webb Look.  He has also given a winning performance of the famous audition scene from Flashdance for Comic Relief in 2009, which endeared him to many (click here to see it).  He originates from Lincolnshire and occasionally comes back, but as he said, most of his family are dead, so he doesn't visit as often as he used to.
He was incredibly erudite, answering questions from the audience with aplomb and being genuinely funny.  Many of these questions centred around gender stereotyping and he gave some thought-provoking, sensitive answers.
Needless to say, Chris bought his book which Mr Webb signed and it is next on my reading list.  It has had really good reviews.  I think it will be quite challenging in places, but it includes important issues obviously close to his heart, as well as being a memoir.
There was one really good piece of advice he gave on writing a book (this one took him two years).  Ask yourself three questions and if you can't answer 'yes' to them, don't write it:
Does the book need to be written?
Does the book need to be written by you?
Does the book need to be written by you now? 

Edited to add:  I am about a third of the way through and yes, it is well written and interesting, but (and it could be a big but for some readers), there is extremely strong language from the start and throughout. (I thought I should let you know).