Saturday, 26 September 2009

A little break.

I'm just having a short break between frantic bouts of garden maintenance as part of the on going Autumn clean up. The rabbit hutch has been moved, cleaned and repainted, so pictures to come. The rabbits seem quite happy with their fluffy white shavings and a deep bed of straw and it's nice to pull all the old stuff out and start again with fresh for the new season. The flower beds are being weeded and simplified and sadly my raised bed will be taken apart and relocated to the field. I'm going to keep it simple and pleasant in the garden and concentrate my growing efforts at the field as it makes sense to keep it all in one place.

Tomorrow it's the turn of the chickens to have their hen house cleaned, any repairs made and painted to protect agains the Winter weather. I'd kind of like to move them to the field and open up the garden again, but they simply wouldn't be safe, and I would miss them clucking about the place :)

Next job is to go and buy more wood preservative. I think I may treat the hens to a nice green colour, to match the rabbit house, what do you think? :)

Also, on the art front, I have a few more ACEO's ready and will be sorting my Etsy and Ebay shop tomorrow as that will be my routine, to update and sort things for sale on a Sunday.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

More ACEO's

Here are the latest additions to my ACEO collection. It's slowly growing and now that my paper has arrived (YAAY) I can think about putting them on EBAY, Folksy and Etsy. Crikey it's nerves wracking and I just seem to be throwing more and more money at it in the hope that it will start to pay! It's so good to read about other bloggers and artists who are making money by doing something they love and maybe then I'd stop feeling so guilty about sitting painting for most of the day. It does feel decadent! Mind you, today I also got stuck into the ironing (at 6.30) and at lunchtime, had a really good hoover around, so the house doesn't look much like a pigsty now! Next it's time for the kitchen to be beaten into submission and I'm cooking a fish pie for tea as we have loads of potatoes to use up (the 5kg I planted at the field).

Right, here they are
Merlin (as a Unicorn)

and Toffee (as himself).

Also, while I remember (my head is so full of paintings!) I mentioned a book clear out. Here is the first one, it was a great read, although not a huge amount happened. What I enjoyed was the peaceful stroll through the lives of these wonderful ladies, from the late forties up to the current time. I would recommend it, although I won't be reading it twice.

The second book is 'Second Nature' by Alice Hoffman. It was fantastic and not at all what I was expecting. I loved it, but again won't read it again as I have too many books and not much space. I'm de-cluttering dahlings, so the first one to shout can have a book :)

Sunday, 20 September 2009

A great weekend.

This weekend has been one of the best, definitely one to remember. Friday night started with our usual homemad pizza, a bottle of red wine and one of the best movies we've seen in a while, 'O Brother Where Art Thou'. What made it more special was that the whole family loved it.

Saturday was all the more special because we had a visit from the Post Van bringing lovely gifts for me :)

'The Brides Farewell' was mentioned by the wonderful Jackie Morris and so I decided to treat myself, as I've not had many new novels in a while. It's either charity shop or library for me at the moment. I'm going to save this one for a cold and stormy night, go to bed early with a hot drink and a night cap and pull the duvet high around my ears and get lost in a story. Bliss.

I saved opening the box for last, thinking that it was some paper I'd ordered, but I was wrong.

Next came these delightful ACEO's, a bookmark, card and keyring from the wonderfully talented Julia Guthrie, do check out her blog and website, her artwork is amazing. Thank you so much Julia for pulling my name out of the hat in your giveaway :)

Finally I turned to the box of paper, but no, it wasn't paper at all, but this utterly fantastic bag from Kim at Brigantia Designs. I was so taken with the amazing stitchery and quality of the fabric. This bag is far better than any you could buy in the shops and well worth it's price, which, by the way is very reasonable. So, here was my dilema, I'd bought the bag for my Mother in Law, who has incredible good taste in fashion and who would love this bag, if only I could bring myself to give it to her. Will you all think me terribly selfish when I say that I have bought another for my Mother in Law (also from Kim) and plan to keep this one? I feel slightly guilty, until I pick the bag up and then I simply can't put it down!!! I never thought myself to be such a material girl (pardon the pun)! I'll show you the other bag when it arrives, but in the meantime, please do go and look at Kim's bags, they are delicious in the extreme!

Today is just a quiet day, pottering and cooking and in a bit we may take the bikes out to blow away any lazy day cobwebs :)

I hope you all had great weekends :)

Friday, 18 September 2009

Where I live.

There are many places I'd like to live and some that are just whimsical fancy, like the Sonoran Desert, for example (but that's another whole post!). For now though, and until they cover the surrounding fields with houses, this is a pretty nice place to live.

This beautiful horse has recently moved into the field above with a dozen or so similar animals. They have incredible markings and have clearly come from the continent. Like the impulsive fool that I am, I enquired if this one was for sale and was told that he was and I could have a look at him if I wanted. That was when I discovered that up close this is an older horse, somewhere in his teens and his field mates are considerably older. In true dealer style, though, I've been messed around and it's probably for the best that I forget this gentle giant.

He is lovely though, and I totally fell for him.

There are always little horses to be found in my garden though.

Little winged creatures flitting among the herbs and peeping shyly from between flowers.

And of course the odd moon gazing hare to be found in the Studio.

My kitchen is looking so bright and pretty in it's last salute to Summer and I so love these goblets, brought out for a special Birthday earlier in the week. I'd like to use them in a painting, but I'm not sure yet how.

Well, that's my brief tour of my home and things that have special meaning for me, thank you for dropping by and sharing :)

Oh, before I forget, I'll be posting a couple of books that I've read and would like to pass on, so check back in a day or two and find out which ones they are :)


Oh it's a poorly household today! I have my son home from school with a tummy bug, Hubby is off colour and I've not been very well all week. Now on top of that one of my old hens, Leia, is unwell too. I think she has a bad case of old age and is very droopy and down.

I can remember so clearly when we first got the hens. The original 3 were Leia, Clara and Freya and I was beside myself with excitement. I scoured all forums and websites researching and learning about chicken keeping. They arrived a few weeks after my birthday and I can't describe the love I felt for these birds, despite them being immature and frankly quite ugly. They grew into beautiful birds and despite being bred for meat, they provided us with wonderful eggs, even laying long into Winter, with just the occassional break for moulting.
Sadly, Clara was lost to the fox the following Spring and so we decided to get 2 more.

Darling and Luna lived in the rabbit run for a day or so and when we put them all in together, there was hardly a feather ruffled. Freya was the undisputed boss and all others respected her. When Luna was too upset to go to bed with the others on her first night, it was Freya who gathered her and took her in.

Here, they are all waiting to be let out for their morning's rampage. From left to right they are Luna, Darling, Freya and Leia. They are so easy to tell apart, well, for me at least :) Unfortunately we lost Darling 18months after getting her, to that darned fox again. She was old and was having breathing problems, so he only sped up what was coming, but it was hard to deal with. Luna, was injured during the fox attack, but against everything I've read she fought back and survived, despite having horrible wounds to her chest. She lived for another year.

This was how I'll always remember Luna, sunbathing in her favourite spot. Losing her hit me harder than the others, I guess because she was such a pickle in her lifetime, but a sweet and gentle soul in passing. She lay wrapped in a towel, in a warm part of the kitchen and quietly went to sleep.

Oh dear! I didn't mean this to be a sad post, not at all, so I'll finish with a couple of happy pictures :)

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Art adventures.

As the days grow colder, my time in the Studio is limited, but thankfully it was a lovely day today and I was actually quite hot out there.

On the table today. A page of scribbles and rough ideas plus the beginning of the tree picture. I'm loving my new approach to painting at the moment. I have no idea of what I'm going to paint, I just sit and look at the colours and see which doodles would be most appropriate and then begin the experiment. This is sooo liberating for me, as I usually sit and fuss and fiddle with the tiniest details on some pretty complicated paintings.

This picture started off as just some random washes. I added the stones, but it needed so much more.

It's getting there, but I'm sure I'll add more details before it's finished.

This is by far my favourite as the ghost in the sky appeared all by itself and just lent itself completely to a spooky Halloween picture.

In this watery wash, I can just make out a little house, can you see it? I'm thinking of a house on a lake or loch!

These little pictures are actually 2.5 x 3.5 inches and will be the first ACEOs to go for sale. This is a great way to play with paint, but I've got some serious pictures to get back to, but all in good time!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

The time between times.

When it's neither light or dark, night or day. A magical moment when night and day are equal and the veils between the World's are thin. Anything is possible as Faeries and Sprites, Spirits and Ghosts enjoy their moment of strength and mortals should beware of the beautiful spells they weave.
Spells that sink into your dawning wakefulness and lure you from your bed to stand in the garden and gaze at the faery rings or to listen to the secret rustlings beneath the hedge. Do not dare to step barefoot onto the lawn and wash your face in the cold dew, dreaming of everlasting beauty. Faery glamour is just a game and they love to trick us.
And at the day's close, when the night lures the sun into it's shadows, beware of following that sun into the twilight as the Fey beings once again slip into our World. They hold sway at both ends of the day, the Time between times when the brightest thing abroad is our glowing Soul and it draws them like a lantern, like a beacon in the gloaming.
For poets and artists, inspiration arrives with the brush of a Faery's wing. Writer's hear the whisperings of the spirits and common mortals do well to stay in bed, safe beneath the duvet, safe from temptation. For Faery gifts are never given freely and come at a price we may not wish to pay.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Another busy weekend spent between the field and kitchen for me, so after an hours worth of picking, I spent another couple shelling these wonderful beans. I'm so pleased with them and as they dry, the red stripe gets darker. Aren't they pretty :)

If you only grow one thing next year, then maybe it should be this. I cooked the Graziella pumpkin last night, well most of it, and it's such a heavenly scented pumpkin, and with a depth of flavour that few shop bought pumpkins have.

Here is the soup before it was whizzed in the blender, but unfortunately I didn't take a snap of the curry or roasted portion. There was a lot to deal with and there's still a chunk in the fridge for a sweet pie.

I've been saving seed from the pumpkins and corgettes, so I may have enough to give away if people are interested. Leave me a message and I'll count up what I've got. I do have two other pumpkins growing, so there should be enough of those.

Today, it's back to the Studio, after a quick flurry of housework.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Things this week.

I so love calendula, and this is the first year I've grown them. Aren't they beautiful?

I've been making more wine this week and poor son's bedroom smells like a brewery, as he has the airing cupboard which is the best place for a steady fermentation. Yummy :) Today I strained the blackberry wine and used some cooked apples and strained elderberries from last weeks wine to make a rose. Next batch will be apple wine and then, while they are still quite cheap, I'll make some parsnip wine. This was a stonking great wine when I made it before and is well worth the wait.

Also this week I've been getting down to more painting. I wish that was all I had to do, but normal life goes on and so I've been rushing to fit it all in. Sometime tonight, I need to make a batch of bramble jelly and as it's Friday, it's pizza night, so I have to get the dough for that made.

I also want to make some pumpkin soup this weekend. I'm delighted my Graziella pumpkins have grown, as they have the most wonderful sweet and fragrant flavour. This, little courgette is the size I should have been picking all along, rather than leaving them to grow so enormous, but I was confused and thought they were the pumpkins, doh!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

What on Earth?

Before you think I've lost the plot totally, let me explain. This is something I've been playing with over the weekend, and I think the gamble has paid off. I've been throwing paing at my paper and then hanging it up to dry so that the colours run into each other. This one will be trees!

An orange wash with a wet black border created some interesting mixes. I then sketched the design onto the dried washes and inked in the details.

This background was very wet into wet.

And this one was livened up with salt.

These pictures will soon be in my Etsy shop and I'll soon be opening a Folksy shop too.
These pictures are my originals and are subject to copyrights.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

This year.

I've been prompted to write this after reading something on Gem's blog. Where has this year gone?

It really only seems like yesterday that I stood at the field planning where all my new seeds and vegetables should go and feeling frankly daunted by the task. Now I'm rushing to bring the harvest in before the first frost and planning gifts to make for Christmas! And no, it's not too early to think like this, if like me you make your own gifts, unless you want to be sat up on Christmas eve crying into your sewing box (which did happen one year!).

On the whole it's been a very good year. It's been another year of learning, some lessons harder than others, but to learn is to grow and I feel like I've grown in many ways. I've had an extra 5months with my darling cat, Max, but like the year, I feel that our time together is drawing to it's close. He's struggling now and I don't think the cold, damp weather is helping :( But for now, he's snuggled against my leg purring, so I'm still grateful.

The Exhibition is over for another year, I sold 3 things in the end, so I'm very happy that my new direction has been well recieved and I've been asked to be an organiser again next year, so that's a respectable result :)

The children are back at school, so a new year for them and I'm frantically re-stocking our preserve cupboard against the coming Winter.

The next jobs are Winter cleaning, the opposite of Spring cleaning. Sorting out the gutterings (we have grass growing in one!), making sure the window frames are in good repair, treating the hen and rabbit houses and generally having a good clear up. This way, when the rains are hammering and the winds howling, we can sit safely tucked up inside and not have too many worries. The field brings it's own list of jobs to get sorted before the weather changes. Oh, that's tomorrow then!!!

What have you been doing this year, and has it passed as quickly for you as it has for me?

Thursday, 3 September 2009


This week we picked just over 4lbs of blackberries, with the promise that we'll pick nearly as many again for jam!

Here they are washed and crushed in my fermenting bin.

To this I added washed and chopped raisins and two mashed bananas, some yeast and hot water to ferment on the pulp for 4 days.

Meanwhile, I did the same thing with 2lbs of elderberries.

The elderberries were mashed and simmered with two bananas and some raisins then strained and added to 2lbs of sugar and some yeast. They will bubble for a week or so in the airing cupboard, by which time the blackberry will need to go in the demijohns and also go in the airing cupboard.

Tomorrow I'll start the apple wine and then the pulp from this plus the pulp from the other fruits will go in together to make a rose. Now that's really recycling!

Take some left overs...

I do love to recycle. It's no secret, and if something good can be made from something past it's prime, then that's even better. I so totally love my sewing machine. I've waited so many years for a good one and although this isn't the best my any means, it sure does the job for me.

So, roll out one very cherished Summer dress and an old pair of jeans.

Take one leg of the jeans, split down the middle and tidy up the sides and bottom. Cut best bits from the dress and make an all purpose apron. Then try hard to prise daughter from it at bedtime! She loves this so much, that I feel bold enough to have a go at a dress that goes all the way around!

For me, take the other jeans leg, split open and trim with left overs from the fabric stash. In this case, some quilting scraps and the trim from an old duvet cover, then beat hubby when he laughs! If it saves me from bleach and berry juice, then that's the job covered.

Now, wearing lovely apron, take all left over fruit, including free plums from the tree near the field and simmer in a sugary syrup. Tuck neatly into a pastry case and bake until the smell is overwhelming. Devour with custard or ice cream :)

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Days full of work.

My days have truly been full since my last post. I've been picking blackberries by the bucketful only to find the bushes full again just a few days later. I have 4lbs waiting to ferment into wine plus two small tubs in the freezer for puddings. The next lot I pick will be for bramble and apple jelly. We only have one jar left and my son is beginning to panic :) This has been a truly wonderful year for fruits which makes up for last years paltry offering. I even have a decent amount of sloes, which of course will become sloe gin. The Haw berries are good again, so I hope that I'll finally get around to making some haw jelly, so long as I can find the original recipe that spurred me into starting a blog nearly two years ago. I wonder if this new one will last two years, or more!

The Exhibition is well under way and the party was a great success. I've been complimented on the layout, but haven't done very well with selling my work. Ah well, I can't have it all ways.

I also decided, for some unknown reason, that this was going to be the week that I started riding Merlin! Suffice to say I'm quite battered and bruised. Before you go thinking that I need my head seeing to, I have to point out that most of my injuries have been because Merlin is quite little and therefore, there isn't a lot of him to balance on! He wriggled and squirmed so much yesterday, when I first lay across him, that I crunched a few ribs just trying to stay in place. It was like bouncing on a boney power ball. I did however sit astride him for a few moments before getting off and giving him a hug and a treat. Today was a bit different and a couple of bucks had me quickly on the floor! He's not a malicious pony, but he knows what he will and won't put up with. My only conclussion is that I'm too old for this malarky!

And then, along came this book. A wonderful little charity shop find for £1.25. It's a gem and I'm loving it. It's a little like desperate housewives in the 50's. Not an action packed story, but it's got me gripped. My taste does cover a huge variety of books, and I suppose that's a bonus of buying from charity shops, as I'll try something that might not normally appeal to me.

I hope you are all having a good week so far, I'll be back soon with some harvest pictures and my adventures with a sewing machine!