Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year.

Bright blessings to you all as we are set to say goodbye to another year.

For many people 2009 was a difficult year. Not the worst one for me, but certainly a time of great change, of realisations and a time of growth. I'm not so much keen to see the back of it, but rather, keen to get on with the New Year and the chance to continue growing. I don't believe the recession is over by a long way, and I think that 2010 will find people making huge changes to their lifestyles as the pinch continues to tighten. I wish for our strength as a nation so that we can do this without too much pain or difficulty and maybe get our Country back to what it should be.

Personally my goals are simpler, to be more generous to others, concentrate on my children and put more effort into my art. Plus all the usual, get fit, keep my finances tidy, eat less chocolate etc..etc..etc....

I hope you all face the New Year with great goals and plans and I pray that 2010 is kind to you, that your experiences are good ones and your families prosper.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Remeber this?

I think I started knitting this cardigan nearly two years ago, or maybe it was only 15 months, but it feels like forever! I finally finished it just before Christmas and spent Boxing Day sewing it up. I'd planned to wear it to a family get together tonight and tried it on with glee.

Well! What can I say? I look like a giant baggy sock!!! I must have sewed it up wrong, and the tension is different on the different panels so one side is slightly longer than the other. Hubby had a jolly good laugh, and I have to admit, it is slightly amusing. I will be wearing something else tonight and when I've recovered from my urge to throw it away, I'll re-sew the neck line which should pull it all together (should, I say hopefully)!

Maybe if I wash it in hot water it might tighten up a bit! Well, it can't get any worse and if it shrinks too much, then I'll give it to the Moomin :)

Monday, 28 December 2009

What the???

I don't know what's going on with my blog today, but after changing a few colours, various page elements have been disappearing! Appologies to everyone, it seems to be the comments now that have gone walkies. I have to get a lot of cooking done today as we are entertaining (well behaved) family later, so I'll try and get it all sorted as soon as possible.

Have a good day all :)

Sunday, 27 December 2009

So, how was it for you?

I hope you all had a lovely day with time for fun, time to enjoy being with friends and family and time to reflect on what this time of year means to you.

I managed to find a lovely Santa for my fireplace and although he's not a patch on the green fabric one, he did only cost £3.00, and I'm very tempted to paint him green for next year. Or maybe I should just make one, anyhoo, we all loved him with his little tea light tummy and sat beside our Yule log, he brightened our hearth.

A homemade reindeer on the mantle piece along with some fresh ivy and candles.

To the left is my leaping reindeer, a slight extravagance of a couple of years ago, but still lovely, and in the background our little tree.

Homemade Christmas tree bunting. This I totally LOVE and am so pleased I took the time to make it. It didn't take long to make, just some felt trees stuck onto hessian backing and attached to a pretty dotty ribbon. The photo doesn't do it justice, I'm afraid.

Our day went well, with just a couple of very small dramas! Badly behaved (older and absent) family members who should know better and an incorrect instruction booklet with the turkey! Thankfully, hubby and children made up for the family issues and the dinner was just a lot later than intended! I knew I should have stuck to my usual method of cooking turkey, but as this one was so wildly expensive, I wanted to be sure it worked out perfectly! Well, you know what they say about trusting your instincts! Still no harm done, and it still tasted beautifully :) On top of all this, the cold I caught in my last week at school decided to arrive fully on Christmas Eve, but I drowned it with alcohol, so even that had a good outcome!

In the afternnon we took Merlin and Toffee for a late walk and they were Angels too, what a lovely day. I hope you all had a good day too and I look forward to reading about it all as I visit you.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Wishes at Christmas.

This post is primarily for Renee but also, for anyone else needing some love or support at Christmas. It's a difficult time of year if you have worries or struggles, especially when all around us we are told we must be happy and rejoice. It's not always that easy to enjoy the season and there is nothing wrong with us if we want to have a good moan, cry or have a thoroughly Scroogy moment (or two). But Christmas for me isn't just about religion, be it Christian or Pagan or any other. It's about giving of our time and our love and sharing ourselves with others and letting them know that we love them.

Originally this painting was for a friend's wedding, but it made me think of Renee as Sarah often calls her a Swan, and the celtic design symbolises our lives entwined. We all touch each others lives when we write on each others blogs and I've discovered a great community of like minded people, some have become great friends that I feel I've known all my life.

Lets send some Christmas love and wishes out to everyone, whether they are friends or not, but especially those who could do with a hug right now.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Fay Wray Angel.

As you may know, I've been dabbling with doll making. It's just an extension of my regular sculpting, only with the complication of moveable arms and legs. In the case of these two characters, just arms! Sadly, my first attempts to paint them were disastrous, the air hardening clay seemed to react badly with my acrylics. Fine if I wanted to create little zombies, but I didn't want a scarey Christmas display!

I coated the sculptures with a layer of PVA glue and then the acrylic worked perfectly.
My next dilema was what fabric to use. Did I want a lacey traditional Angel, or one with a vintage feel? Just lately I've been a tad inspired by a certain vintage Mermaid, so this spotty fabric seemed nicely retro.

The Moomin loved the idea of a vintage Angel and so I decided to give this little one a chic and snappy bob haircut. I'm sure it was coincidental, but I've just had my own hair cut similarly!

I added a luscious feather trim to the hem of her dress, and some filmy wings completed my new tree Angel.

I think she has a very 1930's look to her and apart from the fact that her namesake screamed a heck of a lot, when I was a child, I desperately wanted to be Fay Wray!!! Now I have my very own miniature version.

Talking of vintage goodies, these delightful boxes were reluctantly on their way to the charity shop, as I couldn't come up with a use for them. As I looked woefully at my sewing box, stuffed to bursting point with buttons, beads and trims, it suddenly came to me.

Ribbons and trims in the smallest box, vintage fabric and scraps in the middle box, and WIP's in the big box. Then the three boxes can stack in the kitchen without looking messy or cluttered. Perfect :) All I need now are some new shelflings ;)

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Merlin's new cloak!

Well, rug actually, but it's the right colour and I'm very tempted to paint some twinkly stars on it!!!

He looks very handsome in it, and I think he's almost smiling :)

Like many children, though, Merlin has the habit of trying to look at himself on the camera, as I'm taking the pictures, so many of them are of his nostrils or sometimes just white hair!!!

Toffee always lights up when the Moomin visits him, as she is everything to him.

I had a couple of tears after taking these pictures, as it's like watching myself with Oliver when we were young and nothing else existed in the World other than us two.

and then as I was mucking out, I was visited by a very hungry robin, who hopped around my feet and came very close to my outstretched hand. My camera isn't great at close ups and this little fella was constantly on the move, so it's a bit blurry.

Last night, then, found me mixing robin food into some rendered fat from left over bacon rinds and some home made suet. It was mucky and I had trouble getting the fat out of the pots when it was dry, so if you decide to have a go yourself, use a container that can be hung out with the fat in. Coconut shells or little plastic desert pots would be fine.

Today we are finishing off the Christmas presents and decorations, so hopefully the next post will be filled with all yummy seasonal goodies.

Tomorrow is Yule, so we'll be having a special celebration and lighting the candles on our Yule log. Bright blessings to you all.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Deep and crisp and even.


The lower half of the rabbit run was deep with snow and Charm wasn't too chuffed!

The drive to school was pretty hairy and hubby gave us a lift in his FWD truck as it was so scarey.

Merlin was in a weird mood and had been fighting with Toffee and seemed to want to take it up with us! He's meant to be tough, but seems to hate cold or wet weather!!!

Toffee's just happy to have extra hay and feed, bless him :)

Tonight we went to the village carol service around the pond, and stood in the snow wearing hats and thermals. You can just make out the daughter fourth on the right in the pink hat. We sang loudly and one of us, who shall be nameless, had trouble with the right key at the right time and I was helpless with giggles through Silent Night. Oh the irony!!!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Anyhoo, lets get back to Christmas!

Somehow I've managed to squeeze in a little painting for some Christmas cards and the best ones I'll use for future cards. I know I'm too late to sell any this year, but I'm planning for next year already! Hey, if I'm going to be controversial, might as well include Christmas too!

I've been making this doll for my daughter. The pattern was for a Raggedy Ann type doll, but there were a few things I really disliked, so I made my own shape legs and arms and have used felt for the face and limbs to give her a warmer feel. Her legs are brown because she was going to be an Autumn Faerie, but now I'm thinking of dressing her in blue and silver, so we'll see. I know I'm running out of time, but this often happens. I was sat up on Christmas Eve once, sewing gifts together!

So very unlike me, but I had to include this gorgeous Santa that we found in our garden center. He's actually wearing GREEN (this is for Leanne, who LOVES green Santa's) and I am coveting him with a passion. I say it's unlike me because I'm not normally so material, but for some reason I'm feeling a bit selfish and would love to own him, but at nearly £40. there's no way I could justify the cost. So lets just bask in his greenness for a moment :)

And moving on to - SNOW! This afternoon as I was driving, I watched great heavy clouds roll over the horizon and then what seemed to be a thick cloud of smoke flowing over the road ahead. As I drove into the cloud I realised it was snow and I could hardly see the road ahead. I got to the field as the cloud caught up with me and caused the ponies to dash about like school children in a snow frenzy.

Actually, unlike the children, they weren't best pleased and wanted their supper already, so stop taking pictures! I know this picture is a bit blurry, but you can see the force of the wind.

Toffee looks like he's taking all this weather a bit too personally.

When I got home I lit the fire and my candles for a cosy evening, supper is in the oven and I'm heading for the bath. Stay warm and safe everyone.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009


My reply to the previous post was soooo long that it needed a post all by itself!

Yes, Danielle, I have opened a can of worms and a risky one at that, as I really wouldn't want to offend my blogging friends. I agree that we should be able to share our views at the same time as respecting each other's opinions.

I agree with what you say, Jasmine, with regard to farmers who intensively breed game birds and I know that the cost of shooting is very high for the townies who like to play at it. There were one or two things that I had reservations about, but the welfare of the birds and surrounding wildlife was not a problem. The Farmer I went out with keeps his birds in large enclosures, protected from foxes by electric wire. When the birds are able to fly high enough to escape the enclosure, then he feels they are able to get themselves out of danger. He doesn't release them in one great mass just before a shoot, he lets them range where they will, and so give them a chance to fend for themselves. It's not a case of shooting dumb, senseless birds without a clue, and I was glad to see that many did go their own sweet way on Saturday and we also saw a great many deer and foxes too.

Saying that, he is a businessman and does make money from raising game birds, but the time and effort that he puts into the job is just about covered. I would much rather he, and farmers like him, protect our countryside and use it as it has been for many hundreds of years, than to see the land fall into the hands of the developers, which is a huge problem in our particular county.

Personally, I wouldn't have anything to do with anyone whose ethical values weren't as high as mine, but how can we be sure that the farmers selling to the Supermarkets stick to the claims they make? I bought two hens from a farm that supplies free range eggs to Waitrose and they were most definitely not free range! They were in an equal state to the ex-batts that I've rehomed in the past!

I didn't really want to sound like I'm defending my decision to take my daughter shooting, but I do want to point out that not all farmers are the villains. I appreciate the care that you put into your reply, Jasmine, and I feel that my views are very close to yours. This wasn't a decision I took lightly and after an evening of mammoth plucking and gutting, I've half a mind to rush out to the butcher in future, but I know that I won't and I'll do the same thing again!

Monday, 14 December 2009

So Long!

I can't believe it's been a whole week since my last post! The days are galloping away and it's been a struggle to keep up sometimes.

Presents are being made, food is prepared and songs are being sung. The job at school is still wonderful, although I know I'm having an easy time of it due to the Season, and in the New Year there will be more structure to my duties. That's ok though, because I've had the best introduction to the staff and pupils and still count myself very lucky.

As if I wasn't busy enough, I took a whole day out on Saturday to go shooting with some local farmers I know. I took the daughter with me and she was in doggy heaven as she played with all the dogs and plotted and schemed to have one of her own, maybe one day. I have mixed feelings about the day, as some of my beliefs were seriously challenged, but I do believe that if you eat the food, then you should know how it has lived and died to arrive on your table. I overcame many of my doubts and fears a few years ago when I learned to pluck and dress my first pheasant.

I've been a vegetarian and have looked at life from that perspective, I was even a vegan for a few months but found that hard to maintain as many of the supplements we used come from so far away and this conflicted with my wish to cut down on food miles. Without creating a great long post about beliefs and ethics, what I'm saying is, that I've examined my ideals and am comfortable with the decisions I've made. What was very interesting was to see the situation from the farmer's perspective, as they've fed and cared for the birds and see no reason why they shouldn't then eat them. Surplus birds are sold to the local pub or butcher, supporting our village businesses.

I do hope that this post hasn't offended anyone, and I've thought very long and hard before posting it, but this blog is about my life and the things I do, my art and what inspires it.

Monday, 7 December 2009

In December we .......

Make mince pies.

Make lots of things for ourselves and others.

New friends to play with. For girls

and boys!

We eat hearty dinners of beef cobbler and stock the freezer for the week ahead to save time.

Indulge in blackberry and apple upside down cake (with cream) :)

Sorry it's a short post, but I've had a very full weekend preparing for the coming week, so that I can take it a bit easier and concentrate on my Christmas preparations.

Hope you all have a great day :)

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Today we are mostly ......

Cutting out! I've spent a wonderful morning cutting out number games while listening to the rehearsals for the Nativity play :) I'm sorry to go on about it, but I just LOVE this job :)

My day starts at 6.00am as I stagger around finding clothes before dashing to the field to feed the ponies. Then it's back home to make breakfast for the children, feed the chickens, rabbits and cats, ditch the muddy clothes and jump in the shower. Then I make our lunches, send the son off on his bus and go to school with the daughter. The following three hours are filled with maths, english and reading and of course school production rehearsals. I soooo hope things continue to be this good, although I am a realist and accept that the first few weeks are bound to be the best as I slowly get used to the routine. But I don't ever recall having a job that has me leaping out of bed with such anticipation :)

Well, that's enough of me wittering on in a smug way, now I have to get on with my Christmas preparations, as it is, after all, December and I have a million things to do now. I'll be working my way around all your lovely blogs as so many people are sharing such gorgeous pictures of their preparations and lovely decorations. Take care all :)

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Early mornings and late nights.

Oooh, I'm so not used to being out at work, that is clear! I'm getting up extra early to get everything sorted before school and then finishing off last minute jobs late in the evening. I'm a very tired bunny, but it's such a good feeling.

I'm starting to remember the names of certain children and they are greeting me with more open smiles now, which is lovely. Yesterday was the practice for the Nativity, so a very fun Christmassy day, but then extra (unpaid) work in the afternoon and an evening filled with homework for the daughter. My head just didn't want to wind down, so a couple of sherry's knocked me out! I have another long day today, as they are short staffed and I said I'd cover, but I can't give away my time for nothing too often as I don't want to be taken advantage of. Even though I love being with the children I do have my own family to care for too.

Thank goodness my freezer is stocked with homemade meals that I can throw into the oven with some baked potatoes. With a little forward planning, I may even begin to be organised! Goodness, whatever next?

Meanwhile, I have fairies and sculptures sitting, waiting, the moleskin challenge to finish and various correspondences and swaps to plough on with. I WILL squeeze it all in :)

Monday, 30 November 2009


I think it helps to be a little crazy in my World, as I swing from one polar extreme to the other! Not long ago I was chopping up clothes and now I'm creating fairies and figures and little trays of eyes! It's never a dull moment, I suppose, as images refuse to stay in my head and find their way into the real world, one way or another!

A friend of mine was visiting last week, and a chance remark about one of my sculptures has produced a whole fleet of little female busts. They are based around the Star Children. The daughters of the Pleiades who have come to Earth to help us move forward into the Aquarian age. Given the bizarre weather we've been having lately, it's easy to believe that our world is in dire need of some spiritual help and it's with this in mind that I've been developing these ethereal beings. I'm not sure I can bring myself to leave them hairless though, so it's still a work in progress.

More eyes, and these are much nicer than the 'glass' ones which were actually painted beads!!!
Also, stay tuned for what to do with your burnt eyes! I think I must have a really dark streak as I've created a little friend for Gothmela. Lets just say that children everywhere will shudder!

Finally, a little bit of pretty to offset the thought of burnt eyed creatures! I've posted a few of my Dragon Scale necklaces in the Etsy shop at a silly price for Christmas.

I need to clear some space in the studio, and raise a bit of money to repair the roof, . All this wind and rain has torn the felt and I'm in the process of moving the perishables into the kitchen, so I'll be posting some other little ceramic goodies in the next week or two.

I hope that the weather is kind to you, wherever you are, and please stay safe. It's been a terrible time for us here in the UK and it's set to continue as temperatures drop, so please join me in sending out healing thoughts to those who have been hurt, or killed, or lost their homes.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Highs and lows!

The bestest orange cat in the World.

There have been a lot of these lately, although I won't go into the gorey details, but it's been quite an upty downty time here at the Retreat.

After waiting weeks for an order of dolls eyes, they finally arrived today and were utter pants! The ones I made myself are far better, even the burnt ones. So I'm a bit narked about that! Although in the great scheme of things, this is just a minor irritation, like an itch between the shoulder blades that you can't quite reach!

Of a more serious nature, we took Max for his regular check up to find that his tumour has begun to grow :( I noticed that he's been struggling a bit lately, but was still surprised when the news came, especially as we may only have weeks now. As always, the steroids have made him more comfortable, and he's been cuddling me constantly and taking lots of tidbits of chicken and beef!

On an upward note, my darling daughter has worn me down and I've booked tickets to see New Moon. I'm sure it will be visually delightful, and I'm willing to completely suspend my disbelief for a couple of hours to fully submerge myself in the film. I'm sorry to say that the books were a bit of a disappointment to me, mainly as I found myself wanting to constantly give Bella a shake. I know I'm of the minority here, but I think that she's a terrible roll model for young girls, especially her infuriating habit of defining herself according to the male person she is with at the time. Come on girls, we're better than that!

At least the actress of the movie has a little more grit in her than in the books and who could resist all the gorgeous male eye candy. So, in all, I'm quite looking forward to my afternoon out and as it's the last weekend of the month, it doubles up as my monthly girls day out with darling daughter :)

I just had to share this picture with you all, as I find it soooo meltingly romantic :)

Thursday, 26 November 2009


That's how quickly the time is flying by at the moment. It's been a bit of a whirlwind here at the Retreat and I desperately long to excape to the woods again, but the weather hasn't helped much either.

Finally I think my paperwork is all done, but it was at the expense of the business course, which I really couldn't fit in. I've postponed it until next year and that has taken a huge amount of pressure off me.

This wonderful crow allowed me plenty of time to snap some photos of him as he lazily circled the field a couple of times before taking off on some highly important errand. Probably spying on the local colony of magpies and giving them a little hassle before joining up with his other fellows who fly in a great black cloud across the village every evening.

Despite days filled with stresses, I've spent evenings filled with fairy making. Mostly just working out the finer details of joining limbs together, watching countless on line tutorials and making eyes! I've ordered some beautiful glass eyes from Ebay, but they are taking FOREVER to arrive, so I just sat down with some polymer clay (fimo) and made my own.

This first set turned out beautifully, but then I tried a different method, which looked good at first, but then I burnt them in the oven. Can you imagine the surreal conversation at breakfast as I wailed that I'd burnt my eyes in the oven? Of course, little daughter was helpless with giggles every time I said it :) I've made another couple of batches, much larger than these and they at least have worked out well.