Sunday 30 December 2012

Santa was good to me

Grandaughter Amber with Santa, 2007

Last night I finally got round to playing with my Christmas toys, yeah! A new CD/Radio player in pink!!! will keep me company in my craft room. New CDs are the gorgeous Neil Diamond, The Very Best Of and Alfie Boe, Storyteller. Listening to Alfie singing Bridge Over Troubled Water at the moment....sad but nice. My husband John bought me all of this bar the Neil Diamond CD for Christmas despite me saying he hadn't to spend too much but he loves splashing out at Christmas. I got him his favourite Laphroaig whisky, Thornton's chocolates, vintage Old Spice and the very last issue of the Dandy comic. 

I thought my new camera would be a challenge as everything seems to be so highly tech these days. Its a Nikon Coolpix and it has a rechargeable battery. Yes!!! That's just what I wanted. I managed to install and charge the battery. Installed the memory card and took some sample shots. It has a clever gadget that zooms in and out or goes landscape at a simple touch and it also does videos but I'm leaving that part till later. I tried installing the photo edit software that came with it but my lap top didn't want to know. Never mind! I was still able to upload photos using my resident Serif software. So far, I'm pretty pleased with myself. Oh no! I've just caught sight of my old Kodak digi camera. The one that has served me well for many a year now sitting on a shelf looking all forlorn...feeling sad can I be so fickle...I will miss you little friend.

Alfie is still singing and is up to the Shine a Light track with a gospel edge to it. Very enjoyable!

Last night I finished off my playtime by baking some gluten free scones using a recipe from one of two gluten and lactose free cookery books given to me by my son Drew and his lovely wife Kelly. I'm delighted to receive such a thoughtful present crammed full of no nonsense recipes.  I'm sure I will be using them often in the future. I'm very pleased with how the scones turned out. Nice and light with a soft texture but not too crumbly. Just right! I omitted the sugar as I prefer plain scones that can be used with both sweet and savoury fillings and these scones do the job perfectly.

My wonderful daughters were very kind giving me toiletries and jewellery with which I will pamper myself. Thank you girls and family for such lovely gifts this Christmas.

Wednesday 5 December 2012

I'm not a good knitter but sooooo wanted to do something for our tenth grandchild due early January. She will be the first child of our son Drew and lovely daughter in law Kelly. My mother knit a teddy for Drew when he was very small and so I thought I might keep up the tradition and knit one for this baby, though for health and safety concerns (eyes, nose small parts etc, baby will probably not be able to play with it until three years old...I'm not sure! I hope Mr Floppy will be able to sit some where in baby's view until that time. I've called it Mr Floppy for obvious reasons. He is nice and soft and not stuffed too full so that he is rigid but remains nice and floppy.

We have had snow blizzards today and with Christmas decorations now around the hearth its lovely to be at home enjoying being cosy. Mr Floppy seems to like sitting on the mantle piece in the midst of all the good cheer. I hope he will like his new home and new human baby friend. It won't be long now !

Saturday 24 November 2012

Christmas Market at Harrogate

A white penetrating frost came with the morning on Tyneside but there was also a clear blue sky which heralded what I hoped would be an enjoyable day out to Harrogate Christmas Market in North Yorkshire. Heading south we soon hit banks of freezing fog and the blue skies were gone. Instead we were blanketed in  grey mist with a very pale and watery sun that offered no heat whatsoever.

The coach we travelled on was freezing and by the time we got to our first stop at Thirsk my toes felt like they would drop off. We spent two hours at Thirsk and my prime objective was to get a pair of fur lined boots. I was lucky and thankfully my toes were a lot warmer for the rest of the day. While at Thirsk we also browsed around the market and John bought me three cyclamen plants, two red and one white, for my birthday. They are very pretty and hopefully will last throughout the Christmas Season.

Needing to warm up we decided to get a hot drink and a snack and visited the Yorks Tea Rooms in Thirsk where I enjoyed gluten free toasted muffins and Christmas spiced tea while John had the best ever bacon sandwich in granary bread with salad garnish and a generous cup of latte.

We continued our journey through eerie landscapes but by the time we got to Harrogate the mist had lifted a little and it wasn't so cold. 


We had three hours at Harrogate and headed straight for the Christmas Market. It was packed with people and difficult to stand still long enough to check out the festive stalls. We did manage to buy some speciality cheeses. Cheddar with Ale and Mustard, Goat Cheese and cheese with Garlic and Chives.

We also took time to visit Santa's reindeer!

The penetrating cold was setting in again and we looked for a restaurant to get warm and have something to eat. It seemed that everywhere was full, brimming at the seams with 45 minute waits for tables. We were lucky to  get a table at the Petit Bistro, which is anything but petite when you get inside and although we waited a considerable time for our meals we were able to enjoy hot drinks first and get warmed through again.

The busy order of the day spilled out into the main shopping area of Harrogate and Christmas shopping was in full swing. I would have loved to spend more time there but next time I will visit mid week when there shouldn't be such crowds of shoppers.

Festive lights and Christmas cheer were abundant each way we turned and it was good to bring the Christmas spirit home with us.

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Using up the last of the tomatoes

Some days I just can't eat meat and nothing would tempt me to even try. Today is such a day. So what can I make that is vegetarian?

The last of the home grown tomatoes were picked about a week ago and a punnet of them have been sitting on the worktop ever since. They kept on saying 'what are you going to do with me'? Well I didn't have the answer until today when I realised they were getting past their best and a healthy...or not so healthy white fur was growing in the bottom of the punnet. I hate waste so knew I had to do something.

I picked out the ones not affected by the mould, yellow, red and green in various shapes and sizes, washed them and then put them in a pan with a bit of water and brought them up to the boil. I simmered the tomatoes  until soft and tender then rubbed them through a sieve to make a puree and was then able to discard the skins. There wasn't enough puree to make a pasta sauce so I improvised and decided to saute some chopped onion with a withered but perfectly OK yellow pepper in a touch of olive oil until tender, then added the previously cooked tomato puree, a squirt of garlic puree, some mixed herbs and a jar of basic tomato pasta sauce with herbs. I then allowed it to heat through before turning off the heat and allowing it to cook gently with the remaining heat from the hob.

The sauce was satisfyingly good on pasta twists with a dusting of grated hard cheese and some chopped celery leaves and though my carnivore of a  husband added slices of smoked sausage to his, I opted to have it 'as it comes'.  Mmmmmm, very nice!

Tuesday 13 November 2012

It seems my creativity is centred on cooking 'free from' dishes these days. I made my very first Coq au Vin using chicken thighs and it was delicious. Why haven't I made it before? My next cooking project is curried squash soup. I can't wait!

Monday 5 November 2012

Cranberry and raisin polenta cake with very dark chocolate


A while back I tried cooking with ready made polenta and it was hugely disappointing. However! I don't give in that easily so when I found a recipe for polenta cake in Phil Vickery's Gluten Free Cooking for Kids I took the challenge and decided to have a go. 

I had bought some ground polenta as opposed to the ready made and set to finding the rest of the ingredients in my store cupboard. Of course I didn't have I ever? That made no difference, I decided to adapt the recipe according to the ingredients I had and hoped for the best.

The first traybake I made  was my contribution to my daughter's fireworks party. I used dried ready to eat apricots and marmalade with ginger instead of the frozen peaches and lemon zest as listed in Phil's recipe. I also substituted demerara suger for the recipe's golden castor sugar and Willow spread instead of butter. The resulting baked cake was sweet and moist with an interesting rough texture that everyone liked. 

My granddaughter Natalie had an upset tummy so couldn't have any of the cake and poor mite must have dreamt about it all night long because that's what she wanted for breakfast the next morning. Of course there was none left and the tears flowed. I said I would make another one and this time I decided to use the correct sugar and butter as listed in the recipe. A quick trip to our local Asda got some castor sugar and butter but there was no frozen peaches or similar to be had. The dried apricots were a ridiculous price so I decided to buy dried cranberries and mix them with raisins from my store cupboard at home. I also bought some silver shred marmalade and although I only needed a dessert spoon full the rest will come in very handy for spreading on toast at supper time.

I'm so disorganised! I couldn't be bothered to use an electric whisk as it was packed away with its attachments in a box at the back of a cupboard somewhere so used a fair bit of elbow grease instead and eventually the cake mix creamed together. I got a lot more cranberries and raisins to the pound than I did apricots and ended up with a very fruity cake mix. This was where I started to panic. Would it end up in disaster?

The cake mix rose in the oven but left most of the fruit behind so when it had cooled I treated it as an upside down pudding, turning it over so that the layer of fruit sat on top of the traybake cake. Luckily I had lined the tray with baking paper otherwise I may have been scraping fruit off the tray and then the cake would have been ruined. I gently peeled back the baking paper to see a butter glistening jewel like layer of juicy fruit. Oh yes! This cake is to die for! The cake texture was different, more like a buttery Madeira. I thought all that sweet stickiness would marry well with a touch of bitter dark chocolate so melted some and dribbled it over the fruit layer. Yum Yum Well Done! 

Warning! The calorific value of this cake doesn't bear mentioning.

British Banger Week - Spicy Sausage Casserole

Its British Banger Week and I thought I would do something different to standard bangers and mash so searched my store cupboard for ideas.

It was the last day for using up my pack of gluten free sausages that had been sitting idly in the fridge so I grabbed them and decided to make a casserole. Gluten bangers can be a bit dry so cooking them in a sauce makes them more palatable. Any bangers will do of course but any excess fat needs to be drained away early in the cooking process.

My store cupboard produced a tin of baked beans in tomato sauce, a beef stock jelly melt and a tomato cup-a-soup. A rummage in the fridge produced three big chestnut mushrooms and I found an onion in the potato store. Yes! I had my main ingredients together.

I cut the thick sausages each into four making twenty four large bite size pieces and put them into a wok with a little hot cooking oil, added chopped onion and roughly chopped mushroom. I swirled them around a bit until they started to colour and got to the sweaty stage. I didn't need to drain any excess fat away. I then added the rest of the ingredients plus a large cup of hot water and brought it up to the boil. I then let it simmer gently with a lid on for about twenty minutes, stirring occasionally and adding a drop of hot water when necessary.

It was time for the taste test and though the casserole was full of flavour I thought it needed just a bit of spice to give it a kick so I added half a teaspoon of madras curry powder. That did the trick and my spicy bangers casserole was ready to be served up with good helpings of creamy mash. I had a small portion which was ample for me while my other half, had a full plate and came back for seconds. There was still enough left over for two small lunches which will see me through the next couple of days. I reckon I made enough to serve three or four regular portions,

I can pat myself on my back (smile). Whose a clever girl then, lol. I've done my bit for the great British Banger!

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Pro-Life Pilgrimage

On Sunday, I had the wonderful opportunity to join with the Pilgrimage of Reparation and Prayer for the Sanctity of Life which took place at Osmotherley in the Hambleton Hills of the North Yorkshire moors and on the route of the Cleveland Way, National Trail. Our journey began with the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary prayed collectively on the coach as we sped down the A19 and then through the beautiful countryside of the North Yorkshire moors.

The picturesque village of Osmotherley was bathed in sunshine under a cloudless blue sky making it a perfect day for our pilgrimage hike up to the Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Grace. There were twenty eight souls making the pilgrimage and ages ranged from as young as three years to the very old and was led by Marileine who was the organiser of the pilgrimage. Any infirmity didn't seem to matter as the young and old, the fit and the rickety and those with a bag on each arm to balance themselves gathered together in faith outside the village shop before our ascent to the shrine.

Turning off the main road we started our climb up a muddy and stony track that led up a steep hill. Rivulets of water from recent rains flowed or trickled down the track, crossing our paths unexpectedly and causing us to pick our way for fear of slipping into puddles and getting soaked. The woodland hillside was still green and lush, not having given into Autumn as yet. Occasionally we could peak through the trees at the vista beyond, way below us and as far as the eye could see fields and hedgerows bathed in glorious light.

Every so often we stopped at a station of the cross and prayed. I was reminded of the road to Calvary and the great sacrifice made by Christ for our sins. I hadn't thought I could manage this climb but with a leap of faith I was able to make it and was so glad I did.

Stations of the Cross

We all made it to the shrine and Our Lady's Chapel in one piece and after praying the Angelus we took some rest and had a picnic in the grounds of the Chapel. Tea and coffee was kindly provided.

Sisters of the Renewal and Marileine.
I chatted to two Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal who had joined us on the pilgrimage. They were both from the US but were based in Leeds. Sisters Catherine and John Paul were lovely, very young and very dedicated and it was a pleasure to have their company.

Our Lady's Chapel

Inside Our Lady's Chapel
Later we attended Holy Hour with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. We prayed the sorrowful mysteries and took time to reflect on the needs of babies in the womb, their mothers and the support they need in these  sorrowful times and our own pro-life ministries. There was then an opportunity for confession before mass and time to take a break. Father Damien led mass in the tiny chapel, which was filled to capacity with pilgrims. During mass I noticed a beautiful butterfly, a welcome visitor and possibly a Red Admiral dancing in the sunshine rays that cascaded through the high windows of the chapel to the altar below.

Father Damien joined us after mass for tea and coffee with home made scones and cake provided by volunteers. He was kept very busy chatting and blessing lots of medals and religious objects bought at the piety shop. I was able to buy three delightful nativities, one each for my grown up children and their families. Each one carries a Christmas Blessing and I hope they will stay in my children's Christmases for many years to come.

Although the day had been beautiful in every respect I was feeling too tired to head back down the hill to Osmotherley on foot and accepted a lift from one of the volunteers. I am very grateful to Flora for taking four of us in her car down into the village centre where our coach was waiting for us. On the way home we prayed the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, making our glorious pilgrimage complete!  Although not officially starting until October 11th I hope it is for me, the preparation and beginning of my Year of Faith, 2012 - 2013.

Sunday 23 September 2012

sometimes less is more

I love the multi layered cards that some people make and the swirls and embellishments that seem to go on forever. One day I will try my hand at such masterpieces but for now I'm just glad I was able to motivate myself into creating some pressed flower designs and transformed them into 'any occasion' cards or note-lets.

An American friend of mine sent me some lovely pressed flowers when I was ill and I was thrilled to eventually get to use them over the last few days and create something special. Amongst the assortment Barbara sent me were Roses, Hydrangeas and Love in a Mist. I made very simple designs with them adding a few pieces of my own pressed items too. They scanned well and I played with the images adding text and created some 5 x 5 inch cards with them. They are very simple cards with no message inside but sometimes I think just one word coupled with a pretty image is enough and can speak volumes.

This is the first run of these particular cards and although they are perfectly OK as they are I have to admit (I am my own worst critic), that they could have printed better. The next run will be using a superior card and hopefully one that my printer likes! I'm sorry the close up images shown here are a bit out of focus but that's because my hands aren't too steady. I should have a little tripod somewhere, errrmmmmm, where's that gone!

I said they were something special and so they are! I recently joined an organisation called  Cancer Connections, whose headquarters are in a bungalow in a neighbouring town and I was delighted to find two boxes in the lounge - one for men and one for women. The boxes are for giving and taking out little surprise gifts for members. Just something to cheer up their day. I thought how much I would like to give something in support of this wonderful charity and decided to donate some special cards. Nothing elaborate or fancy, just something small and simple that might be appreciated. I hope they will be well received.

Saturday 8 September 2012

Carbonara and Plums

With just a small part of my stomach left and a need to avoid gluten and lactose its not always easy to find something to eat that is both appealing and fits the bill. I always had a good appetite and enjoyed most foods and taste experiences. My grandson is also gluten and lactose sensitive and I now realise the need to become more creative with food and make nutritious meals that the whole family will enjoy.

Today I made a loose take on Pasta Carbonara. Instead of cream I used soya milk, thickening the sauce with cornflour and lactose free cheese and completely forgot to add egg! The cheese was quite strong so I didn't need much - just a couple of tablespoons of grated cheese was enough. I cooked gluten free pasta until it was cooked through but still firm, drained it and poured boiling water over it to refresh.

I hate waste so I used the single rasher of bacon that had been left idling in the fridge for days and a slice of cooked ham from another opened packet. Chopped them both up into small pieces and fried them in olive spread, adding chopped mushroom and a good mix of home grown yellow cherry tomatoes and red baby plum tomatoes. I like a coating sauce best so I added enough soya milk to amply wet all the fried ingredients without letting them swim, then thickened with a heaped teaspoon of cornflour mixed previously with a drop of milk to make a creamy paste. Just as you would do when making custard before instant custard became the norm. Brought the mixture to the boil and allowed to simmer for a minute or so, stirring all the while. 

I added some torn coriander leaf at the end of cooking time, mainly to add a bit of colour but in hindsight, for extra flavour I wish I had added either a touch of garlic or some green pesto during the cooking process. I was able to divide it up into four small portions for myself but otherwise it would make two regular size portions or one large portion for those with big appetites.

My husband tasted it and said that it reminded him of something he'd had abroad and yes he would have some if I made it as a family meal. So I took that as a compliment!

While all this was going on I had a wok full of plums from the garden simmering in water, demerara and white sugar, ground ginger and cinnamon. The smell was divine! I let the liquid reduce to a syrup consistency and when it has cooled will pack it into zipped storage bags for freezing. It will come in very useful for making cobbler or crumble desserts in the future, though I have yet to master the technique of using gluten free flour!

Bon Appetit for now.

Thursday 6 September 2012

salmon and kippers

Well, my blog went by the wayside for the last couple of months due to me having my operation brought forward and my recovery since. I'm really glad that's over with and I just have to concentrate on getting better and hope the sarcoma doesn't return.

Staying on that positive note I want to tell you about my trip out yesterday and yummy purchases. We chose a lovely day for a drive into Northumberland sightseeing the coast and castles up there. It was almost like being on holiday and my first proper day out in months. The scenery was beautiful but I could have kicked myself for forgetting to take my camera, oh noooooo! Never mind we intend going back for a revisit, especially to Warkworth, which is fabulous and has superb river walks and steeped in heritage. The trees and vegetation were still lush and green but I also look forward to visiting in autumn when seasonal colours should be radiant. I will remember to take my camera with me next time.

My other half was keen on getting some Craster kippers to take home so we drove to the little fishing village and had a pleasant walk by the harbour and visited the smoke house shop where traditionally smoked fish can be bought. I treated myself to some hot smoked salmon and wondered later why it had cost so much till John pointed  out that it had been £29 per kilo!!! Agghhhh!! I made up my mind there and then to make sure I enjoyed it. So last night I cooked some pasta in tomato sauce and tossed in some of the very expensive hot smoked salmon, a few peas, coriander leaf and home grown lettuce and baby plum tomatoes...delicious!

Before we went home we visited some tea rooms in Alnmouth and had some very nice coffee and cake.  John had carrot cake by the Cake Root company and I had a gluten free chocolate cookie which I have to say was the most decadent I have ever tasted. The coffee wasn't bad either.

I'm so looking forward to my next trip.

Saturday 23 June 2012

Its been ages and ages since I wrote a blog post. That's probably down to me getting the diagnosis everyone dreads. My grandson was diagnosed with cancer shortly before I was but he had his operation not long afterwards and so far he is recovering well. I am on treatment to shrink my tumour and it may be early 2013 before I get my operation. Its a long and depressing wait. I hate it, I hate it with a passion. Its a parasitic squatter and has no right to make its home in me. Can't wait to get it evicted. That rant over, lets get down to craft and creativity.

I was lucky to get two orders last week. They came out of the blue and an offer of stand space to fill with my cards in a local party shop. I had some note cards in my stash so I bundled three at a time and wrapped them in raffia ribbon with a little tag. I had some singles left over too and they all went onto my new stand. I'm delighted to say the least and I'm planning on making lots more cards to fill up the stand.

The two orders I got were for a new pet grooming business being launched and a pearl wedding invitation. I felt a bit rusty but gave it a go and came up with these.

I used a scalloped card blank and added freebie backing paper edged with line peel offs, A doggy image I've had for so long I can't remember where I got it from and added line peel offs to the inside border. I think that worked quite effectively ! The sentiments are Anita's die cut messages and tags from The Range and I finished off with some peel off scrolls. I included an insert with an apt message but can't remember what it was now...oh dear!

This one was for a pearl wedding anniversary. I knew nothing about the couple other than their names. I just hope they like the card. 
I made an A5 blank card out of Stardream from Joanna Sheen and trimmed the front by about 5 cms so that the pattern on the inside of the card could be seen and to make it just a little bit different.

The image is a photo I took in my own garden and cropped to show a perfect rose. I personalised it digitally and gave it an embossed frame. I think this works well as there is no need for matting....saving on card there! The ribbon effect which is down the centre of the card is freebie backing paper which I tore to make a strip. The tear showed its white core edge but I didn't like it so coloured the edges with pastel and I think it works better. I finished the front off with pearl hearts and a sentiment.

This is the inside of the card. I printed off a much lighter and magnified version of the rose image and typed in a verse from i-magination. Trimmed it to fit the same width as the card front and added a strip of the same backing paper as on the front of the card and a border of gold hearts on an ivory background. I then finished off with a big thirty peel off.


I left them at the shop for my customer to pick up so haven't had feedback directly but I'm told my customer was pleased. I'm going to get my tea now as all this blogging has made me hungry :)

Saturday 5 May 2012

Mixed media collage

I just couldn't let another day go by without doing something creative so I shut my eyes to household chores that I had no will to do anyway and focused instead on my box of pressed flowers and leaves. 
Hiding myself away in my craft room and listening to classic fm made the perfect environment  for artistic play. 

I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do. I have sheets of handmade papers collected over the years (I had a passion for papers at one time) and so I unrolled them all and marvelled again at their diversity then selected some sloshy handmade lokta paper in greens and browns and some white mulberry paper to layer on top.

I spray glued the layers down onto a 10 x 8" matting board to create a background and then opened up my box of pressed botanical treasure. Layer upon layer of pressed flowers and leaves collected over the years and stored in a cardboard box with silicon packets to keep them dry. Normally I would take great pain to select specific flowers and leaves, going through every layer in the box before being content with my palette. This time I broke with tradition and chose from just the first few layers, otherwise it would have taken me all day. All the plant material is from my own garden except the yellow petals which were kindly sent to me from Italy by fellow pressed flower artist Sylvia Barsotti.

Arranging the flowers and leaves onto the collage was quite easy but gluing them down was a bit tricky at times. Finally it was finished and I am happy with it, especially the sky effect produced by white mulberry paper on sloshy lokta. 

After scanning the original I searched for a suitable verse to layer on top of the scanned image and decided on the Serenity prayer. The image is now printed off and waiting to be framed and the original will go into storage. I decided to print off more images at 5 x 7" for card making. These images have no verse but can have a verse or a greeting added as an embellishment like the one shown here.

The scan could be better but its a good indication of how an image can be used in different ways. I will probably play around with it digitally, creating different effects over the coming days. It will be fun!

Hope you like :)

Friday 20 April 2012

A quick blog

My first blog for ages and all my New Year resolutions are in a failure heap. The reasons are beyond my control so I won't beat myself up about it. I did manage to do some baking this week which I suppose is creative although not in my usual way.
 I followed recipes from a children's cook book I bought at Aldi for £1.99. It has wipe clean pages too, which I think is a brilliant idea and the recipes are so simple, even I can follow them.
The cup cakes were for the members at the Day Centre. I make a dozen each week to help with funds.
These mini cheese and bacon quiches were so delicious I had to get a photo taken quickly before they were all gobbled up. I used Aldi's Greenvale 'Perfect for Baking' for the pastry. It really is very good!

All going well, I will do more baking tomorrow for family. I need to try some gluten free baking, possibly with polenta, which I haven't tried before and ground almonds. Wish me luck :)

Tuesday 21 February 2012

The Dream - true story

October 13, 2007

Opening the door into the dark evening I saw an amiable, well mannered young man with a child and another person. They were looking for the hospital. I pointed in the general direction of distant lights some way ahead but not too far to walk. I happily told them there would be signposts once they got over there.

The evening was black but the woodland trees and shrubs, glossy with sticky rain were reflected in moonlight and a bubbling brook stumbled its way across my view.

Seconds after closing the door it threw open again and Mam almost fell inside. She was breathless as if in a hurry and the sticky rain had coated her hair. Much younger than when we last met, her hair now dark in little damp tendrils. She said “Sorry, I have missed two days but I’ve been depressed”. I told her I had been depressed too, at which our eyes met and I saw her questioning gaze. I sensed the quest for life in her, the yearning search for truth, the excitement and joy of living, the urgency to get things done. The momentary comma in our dialogue.

“I need a book from the library about 16th Century Church of England,” she gasped. It was a strange request and out of the blue but I didn’t dwell on it and instead, struggled to remember opening times at the library. I looked at my watch. It was 7.45pm and I looked out into the darkness again, at the distant lights where the library and hospital were. I looked more closely at the brook now and saw that it had swollen, growing wilder and louder with the sound of thrashing water. Moonlit-cast reflections danced in riotous play and I saw in silhouette, the rocky stepping-stones I needed to cross if I was to get to the library. Was it safe? I took in the nocturnal landscape, noting the culvert into which the rushing water vanished and then the phone rang.          

I woke up.

I’m so glad Mam came to visit, even if in my dreams… but I do wish the phone hadn’t rang… Love you Mam, always will and miss you.

Thursday 19 January 2012

Pressed leaves and pastel

I finally made the effort to get active in the colour enhancement class run by WWPFG. I chose some very uninteresting leaves that had turned a muddy brown and enhanced them with ground pastels, red, green and orange to give them a makeover. Grinding the pastels got me sooooo messy but it was fun!
I then decide to use them in a picture. I used mount board to colour on, using red and yellow pastels for the sun and orange and brown pastels to suggest landscape lines. I then glued my pressed leaves along the landscape line and an extra one off the beaten track.
A rummage through my stash of frames found just the right one for the picture and I'm thrilled to bits with the finished piece. My daughter came to visit, saw it and wanted it straight away! She even offered to buy it but she doesn't know yet, ahah, she will be getting it for her birthday next month.

I have also submitted my picture to PanPastel UK Challenge Blog. They have a lovely set of pan pastels for blog candy this challenge.

I'd love to hear what people think about it so if you could check a reaction or leave a comment I will be a happy bunny :) Thank you!

Saturday 14 January 2012

Oriental Meets Peeloffs

Its two weeks into January and I have finally got creative and made my first card for 2012. It seems to be the season for de-stashing so nearly everything I have used has been hiding in my craft stash for years.

It was fun to use my Crafters Companion Ultimate Pro for the first time and use it to score a gatefold card and cut background papers to fit. It is so simple having one tool to do it all...well nearly all, lol. The colours are not too clear on here but the base card is a sort of very pale pinky peach I've had for ages and the backing paper with tiny hearts is of a darker shade and is from Dovecrafts Princess Fairy Tale decoupage and paper pad.
The insert panel on each gate is a dusky brown card from my scrap box with gold peeloffs added. This peeloff is a Chrysanthemum and the one below is a Chinese or Japanese message (sorry don't know which) but I got them from Joanna Sheen, again, ages ago.
I decorated the inside with three panels of backing paper, which was a Dover sample in bygone days and added a Happy Birthday message to the centre panel using the same tiny heart backing paper as on the front gates. I used outline peeloffs around each panel and insert to make it all look more effective and finished it off with gold tassel handles on the gates.

Considering I'm not a fan of peeloffs or oriental themes, I think it came out quite well! I'm happy with it, says she smiling.

Thanks for looking. Comments are always welcome.

Sunday 1 January 2012

New Year 2012

Its the first day of 2012 and I want to wish all my family, friends and followers a very happy new year. 

Its a while since I posted but hopefully I will add to my blog more this year.

To begin with I have been blog hopping and deciding which challenges to follow. I hope to contribute to Bah Humbug, ABC Christmas Challenge and the Joanna Sheen Challenge Blog. That should keep me busy and as if thats not enough I have signed up for a class in pressed flower colour enhancement with the WWPFG

I have lots of 'vintage' pressed flowers and leaves that could do with a make over and the idea of adding colour to a 'vintage look' new collection of pressed flower pictures inspires me. I have used colour enhancement before but am keen to brush up on new techniques and ideas.

Later in the year I hope to add a page to this blog which will be a gallery of my pressed flower artwork with an opportunity to purchase on-line. I'm feeling very positive about 2012 and looking back on 2011 there was much to celebrate. Its far better to build on the positive than dwell on sadder moments, which beset us all occasionally.

My opening picture is one I did several years ago and is entitled Four Seasons Goddess. It is made up of pressed flowers and leaves depicting all the seasons and arranged around an iconic face that is my own artwork. I poured enormous therapeutic energy into creating this picture and I hope you agree that it evokes a lot of strength and energy.

Comments kindly welcomed as always.