Friday 30 December 2022

Happy New Plant

We went out for a walk the other day and in B&Q (DIY supplier) they had some rather nice hellebores.  I already have a collection of these plants both in pots and in the 'woodland' border.  However, this one caught my eye as it is flowering now, so I had to bring it home with me.  It is Helleborus ericsmithii Winter Sunshine and yes, the name appealed to me as well.
The leaves have slightly spiky looking edges and red veining, while the buds have red/pink and cream colours  and open to green, judging by the open flower. I am hoping it will do well for me.

As we move towards 2023, I wish you a Happy New Year. 

Saturday 24 December 2022

Merry Christmas


Camellia vernalis 'Yuletide' flowering at Yuletide - photo taken this morning

As has become my Christmas tradition, I quote from one of my favourite Christmas carols, "It came upon the midnight clear", written by Edmund Sears in 1849.

"Yet with the woes of sin and strife

The world has suffered long

Beneath the angel-strain has 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."

 To end on a positive, I again quote from Desiderata (a 1927 prose poem by Max Ehrmann):

"...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."

To all my readers and commenters who celebrate, may I wish you a Happy festive season.

Tuesday 20 December 2022

Wanderlust 2022 - weeks forty-three to fifty - Papers and Fabrics

Wanderlust 2022 has finished and I really enjoyed the final theme of Papers and Fabrics.  Week forty-three was about exploring different papers and substrates and then make a patchwork page, joining the pieces together with sewing.  I used walnut ink and paints, archival ink, stamping, stencilling, mark making and texture paste and I loved every minute.  I love the end result too, which is always a bonus.
Eco dyeing was the next focus and I used blueberries and coffee (not together).  The blueberry dye was a lovely purple, but when I added bicarbonate of soda, it turned a teal blue, which was unexpected but lovely.
Week forty-five was using Tyvek paper, which is a plastic paper which melts when you apply heat and can also create bubbly effects, which is what we were aiming for. I did melt a hole initially but tried again and got the bubbly texture.  This was used to make a Humanimal - a mix of human and animal. 
Week forty-six was time consuming but enjoyable and quite meditative.  After creating our own stencilled papers, we then had to tear them into small pieces to make a collage.  Adding stencilling over a block colour background helped to show the collage off.
Portraits in charcoal, ink and stitching was week forty-seven's task.  My portraits are improving and I found I enjoyed using the charcoal with water to create some shadows.  Continuous line portraits were also included and we then collaged together some of the different images we created.
Week forty-eight was a layered piece and I used a favourite illustration from The Secret Garden as my focal point, which also dictated the muted colour scheme.  This was a really enjoyable piece to create.
The final week of the theme was more collage but also including stitching into images for added texture.  Another very enjoyable piece to create, with similar muted watercolours to the previous week.  The squirrel was sent to Chris in happy mail and worked so well as a counterpoint to the bird.
The final lesson was about binding pages into a journal and decorating the cover.  
My journal was held together with binder rings, so all I needed to do was to decorate the cover and I chose to collage lots of bits that had been left over from weekly projects throughout the year.  
So now its the end of this year's course, what have I learnt?  
  • I am now likely to say 'I'll try that' rather than 'I can't do that'.  
  • My portraits have really improved and using a tracing to get the correct proportions is a good thing to start with.
  • I really enjoy using watercolours.
  • Serendipity often adds something special to a page.
I am looking forward to starting the new course in January 2023. The first theme is pastels - not one of my favourite supplies - but I am looking forward to learning and experimenting more with them.

Sunday 11 December 2022

Winter frosts

Having been thoroughly spoiled by having such a lovely mild Autumn, the sudden return to more season appropriate weather has caught us by surprise.  While it isn't that cold in the UK compared to other countries (such as Canada), it certainly feels cold to me.  We have had our first frosts of the winter and the cold weather looks set to continue for the next week.  Above are a salvia and a palm.
I was slow with my pot insulating this year, lulled into a false sense of security.  Last week saw some frantic activity to get the most sensitive plants protected.  Above is a rose bush.
Another rose bush, this time in the border.  The frost does make everything look that little bit more magical.
Another rose bush.
We have been having some work done on our roof and guttering - "Who told you about guttering?"(for my friend Rachael and any other Victoria Wood fans out there) and I have had to move the plants that are usually by the back door onto the patio.  They are not sheltered so much there and I am not sure some of them will come out of the temporary move unscathed. Above is Magnolia Fairy Blush, one of those plants.  I hope they will all be OK until they can be moved back...

Tuesday 6 December 2022

Latest cards and cakes

There were a few birthdays to make for during November. Above is the card for a colleague at work.  This stamp set (from Aall & Create) has a cat back and front with three different faces, so is really versatile.
Here's the inside...
...and the back.
Here is the 'Russian Roulette Revels Cake' with chocolate fudge icing, which we took round to her. She always looks forward to this cake.  
This is the card for my sister-in-law, using a distress ink technique I had seen demonstrated recently.
This is the cake for Chris, whose birthday was also in November. The cake is the same as above but with chocolate butter cream icing rather than the chocolate fudge. (It was delicious!)
Chris asked for a Snarky Cat card, so that's what he got!
Here's the other grumpy cat on the back.  
Finally, here is the birthday card for my Mum, whose favourite colours are turquoise and orange.  I really enjoy making these backgrounds with watercolour, stencilling and stamping.