“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ....Oscar Wilde

Monday, April 14, 2014

Happy Blue Monday...Bee Mats and Tractor rides

So the weekends done and dusted...I blinked and it was gone.
Although it was full on, I did manage to squeeze a few new activities in. 
Some that even surprised me!
The sun came out to play along with a very keen wind, but that didn't stop us getting out into the garden. There's lots to get on with so time is of the essence.
I've had plans for a wild flower section in my garden since we returned to the house, especially after hearing that bees are in serious decline.
Apparently 50% have been lost through disease, loss of habitat and intensive farming. Planting wild flowers makes a big difference to bee survival. So I wanted to do my bit.
I bought a bee mat on one of my Garden Centre visits, so it was time for action.
 The site for the wild flowers is right at the edge of the garden under the silver birch trees. The BeeMat is a 200cm x 50cm ready seeded, biodegradable mat that contains annual, biannial and perennial species of wild flowers that are a great source of nature and pollen for bees including: Common Knapweed, Greater Knapweed, Golden Rod, Vipers Bugloss.
As you can see I've picked a sunny sheltered spot as instructed. 
Cultivated the ground and removed the weeds (well sort of)
I layed the mat over a level smooth bed of soil and covered the fleece with sand and compost. I then watered it and now I wait! 
I'll certainly let you see how it progresses...hopefully we'll have a beautiful wild flower area buzzing with activity soon.
Talking of activity...you are never going to guess what happened to me whilst I was in the middle of cooking our Sunday Roast!
As is my want...I am constantly looking for photographic potential even when I'm not aware that's what I'm doing. So when I caught sight of my local farmer busy ploughing a nearby field, I grabbed my camera to capture a shot. 
Unfortunately Sunday wasn't as sunny as Saturday as you can see by the heavy sky in the photo below. 
I missed a fantastic photo only a few weeks ago, whilst out walking with Muffy. The sun was shining onto the blades of the plough, the excitable seagulls were squawking whilst taking flight until the tractor passed and the soil looked like treacle it was so dark and rich. 
Why did I miss the photo do I hear you ask?...because I'd left my camera at home...which is like loosing a limb, especially when you see a shot that you know would be special. 
Anyway...here's the shot I did get (very disappointing but you have to move on)

I had asked the farmer if I could take his photo before I started snapping and initially he just sat there but then I explained that I wanted to shoot him working, so off he went. 
(Just a little note here...he was wearing blue but you can't tell from this shot...and why am I telling you this? I'm linking up with Blue Monday that's why...hence the blue bee mat above hehe)
Anyway, back to my story if you haven't nodded off or have a more pressing engagement to attend...
As he came nearer to me precariously perched upon the bank of the lane trying to avert the barb wired fence he shouted "would you like to have a ride" 
(cough...cough...okay I'm editing here because I know that that sentence could have lots of connotations...but we'll move on quickly...)
So how could I refuse...off went my apron into the hedgerow (don't forget I was in the middle of cooking) and over the gate post I vaulted! Well maybe not quite a vault but I was impressed because it's been many years since I did that. I was giggling to myself thinking the boys were in the house watching their football team (in a crucial match) and would be oblivious to what I was up to. I also laughed when I looked down and realised I was still wearing my slippers! 
I had to take a photo as evidence to prove that I was indeed ploughing a field in the middle of mixing the yorkshire puds! They'd never believe me!

I was able to ask the farmer lots of questions...about the area and why/how he does what he does...which was like starring in my own 'Country File' programme. 
After as I ran back up my driveway I heard the roar of the crowd...well my two boys shouting at an obvious goal in their teams favour. It can be quite deafening if you're in the house, so I waited until full-time to ask them what they thought I'd been doing and that they'd NEVER guess and imagine their shock when I pointed to the field and said I'd been ploughing and showed them my backed of photographic evidence! 
The farmer says he'll let me have a go with his Combine Harvester when the time comes...so we set up a sign language for a cuppa if he was working near again. 
I did mention that I'm waiting for the lambs to arrive in the back field, but I'm not sure about his answer...his accent is extremely broad for a newie like me to follow. 
So we'll have to wait and see. 

Happy Blue Monday to you all...
If you would like to see more Blue Monday links, then nip over to Sally by clicking here
Have fun! 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Lucky Me....Paying It Forward for Paint Party Friday (PPF)

I'm so excited and must share my news with you all...
Even though I had a different post ready to publish for today, that'll now have to wait for another day.
As many of you know...my middle name is 'tail-end Charlie' because I always seem to be on the last minute when it comes to posting a blog or entering any artwork etc to all the various linky's. So imagine my sheer surprise and delight when I went visiting Paint Party Friday last week, even though I was disappointed that I hadn't completed any artwork to enter myself, but found an opportunity awaiting me. 

I'm a regular visitor to the amazingly talented Tracey Fletcher King's blog who regularly links to PPF. How anyone can make kitchen utensils look so amazing is beyond me, but she manages to. She's so talented and inspiring but not only that, her sense of humour shines through, even as she faces an incredible personal health battle. She manages to find humour in every situation.
 She's my hero!
Reading Tracey's Friday PPF post she announced that she would create a painting for the first five people to comment on her blog and 'wanted in'...I noted that four people had already put themselves forward, so trying to control my hyperventilating and typing a comment as quickly as I could, that made sense before the fifth person nipped in before me, I pressed publish your comment button and whoosh...off it went...gulp...and shazam (showing my age here)...I was number 5!!!! YAY! 
So Tracey will pay it forward by giving away 5 pieces of her brilliant artwork away and I'm on the list to receive something...which makes me very excited but as part of the deal, I will now have to pay it forward as well. 
I have to admit I thought it was a brilliant idea because it will give me focus to produce five pieces of work...and I think that's what I need. 
A kick up the bahooky! 
(a drawing of a garlic from last year...or was it the year before now? It is black ink on white paper but I took this photo very early this morning and the light has played tricks on me)
I'm not sure what 5 pieces I'll produce...it may be something similar that I've posted previously, but there again it might be something completely new.
I don't have a clue at this stage which is both terrifying and exciting all at once.
So here are the details that I've cut and paste from Tracey's blog...
* Pay It Forward Art-making Project for 2014 *
I promise to make a small work of art for the first five people who comment on this post and say "YES, I want in". A 'like' alone is not enough of a commitment, nor is a comment about thinking Pay It Forward is a great idea.

You must in turn post this as your status update and make something for the first five who comment on your status.

The rules are simple:
– It has to be your work, made by you, and the recipient must receive it before 2014 ends.
РIt can be anything art-based: a drawing/illustration or a conceptual work of art, a photograph, a knitted item, cross-stitch, paper mach̩ Рor anything in between.

I'm paying this forward thanks to Tracey Fletcher King.
Yes, you can be on each other's pay it forward lists.

First five, GO!

PS. It doesn't matter if you aren't an artist, try something out, google/ YouTube how to make stuff, step out of those boundaries. 
If you'd like to see some of my previous artwork then click on the links below...
but it's only a snippet. I'm not sure what I'll create for the giveaway...
...it'll be a surprise for me too https://secure.quebles.com/content/hotmail/emoticons/1511767.gif

Zentangle 1
Zentangle 2

Don't worry if you're not wanting to participate...you can still stop to chat. 
I'll only take the first five comments that have the words 'YES....I WANT IN' in their comment to receive a piece of artwork. 
I'll just have a natter with everyone else as usual. 

Enjoy your weekend everyone...I'm off to lie down now...it's all too much for one day!
I'm linking with Eva and Kristin's Paint Party Friday and you're invited too...
Paint Party Friday

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sprouting Spring

As I start to write this post tonight I've suddenly become aware that the grey sky that has been hanging around for days has suddenly lifted. 
Gazing out of the window I can see what I call a biblical sky. 
A sky that makes you stop and glaze in wonder. 
It wasn't expected...so it's all the more of a delight. 
It was very fleeting and therefore I didn't manage to capture it, but I'm sure there will be lots more now that the spring evenings are upon us. 

I've a few things that I wanted to share with you but they are rather fragmented...which means that this post is in great danger of being a little hotch-potch. 
At the moment my mind feels like it's in a tumble dryer tumbling around and around with so much to think about, but I don't seem to come to any conclusion or decision unfortunately. 
Do you ever feel like that? 

Anyway moving on...I didn't capture the sky tonight, but I did manage a photo earlier in the week of a misty/foggy, frosty morning. 
The photos don't really do the scene justice but it gives you the essence. 

I'm definitely feeling springy this week...and the garden has been calling. 
It's not hard to ignore the mayhem going on in the house with all the renovation work...so it's a pleasure to take a step outside. 
There a strange phenomenon happened because I started my daughter off planting seeds and enjoying nature when she was a toot, but since I've been away from a British garden for so long I've forgotten so much...but thankfully my little helper has grown into a woman with very green fingers. She even knows the Latin names for the plants for goodness sake...which I think is seriously impressive. I can hardly remember my own name so there's no hope for me. But now that my daughter has returned to the nest, she's my very knowledgeable reference. 
I'm sure things will come back to me...the when, how and why for...but for now she's my keen advisor. 
Here she is planting up seed trays. 
It's good to find a sheltered corner out of the breeze because it can still be quite chilly.
We've big plans but they'll probably not all happen this year.
The border on the right hand side (above) has had the honeysuckle cut back and there's lots of seeds planted. Heather, lupins, pansy, tulip, primula, lavender and pinks have also been added. So along with previous plants (that I'm not sure are still there and waiting to make an appearance later) it's time to let nature do its thing. 
Hopefully we'll have a full and colourful cottage garden border soon. 
I've also planted sweet peas too because I love to walk out into the garden to collect flowers to bring indoors. Sweet peas are fantastic to add colour and perfume. 
I know some people don't like the sweet pea fragrance and I have to admit it can be quite powerful, but if the arrangement is in a large area or hallway I think they are far better than any chemical air freshner any day.
(Sweet peas shoots)
I have to admit that I was surprised at the rate of growth with these seedlings. 
You can almost see them grow before your eyes...
(a little like the birdseed disappearing from the feeders at an unbelievable rate)  
Hopefully the sun will shine and the seedlings will climb up and race to the top of the trellis. I can almost smell them now.

Whilst I was busy planting I had another helper....Buzz....buzz...
A friendly visitor arrived on the heather...obviously pleased with the selection of new plants.
But we haven't only planted flowers...we've also planted tatties potatoes and they've already sprouted! Not the best photo because the sun wasn't playing.
And here's something I completely forgot about...I think it's a cherry blossom tree. 
Please correct me if I'm wrong...remember I'm re-learning all the time.
The bark and shape of this tree are beautiful. 
Maybe I'll show you it in all it's full glory once it flowers? 

Obviously with so many plants needed...we had to take a few trips to local garden centre and look what I found in the ladies toilets! 
I couldn't stop giggling. 
I thought they were just brilliant. 
There were all different designs...just perfect for a garden centre. 
Dobbies Garden Centre
We've also visited lots of reference books, catalogues and seed guides but there's still a long way to go...and then there's the veggie plot to excavate, build and plant up. That'll probably be next year now as times marching on. 
It's actually still quite light outside and it's nearly 8pm. Don't you just love summertime? 
And finally as they say...here's a stunner. 
It's one of my Mothers Day tulips.
I know it's a little late to show you but I thought it was quite exquisite and worth sharing. 
What do you think?
I've lots planned over the coming months...as we head into summer. 
The salmon will be making their way up stream, castles and their grounds/gardens will be opening, the beaches will be warming up and lots of Scottish National Trust sites to visit. There may even be a whiskey distillery visit too. Who knows?
I'd love for you to join me if you're free.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.
Hopefully we'll chat again soon 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What's On Your Work Desk Wednesday...#252

 I'm not sure how this happened...well actually I am, but there's no way I'm owning up to it! But it appears that there's been an over spill of belongings yet again. Mysteriously they have turned up in every room. Nothing is where it should be...there's no logic to it. Although the windows have been finished (there's only the front door issue to be resolved now) we're still having to move things out of rooms for the painter to have full access. We're still on holiday sleeping in our guest bedroom too. 

As it's Wednesday once again it's time to share our desk space. 
I'm not sure you'll want to see mine though? So if you'd like to see more productive, creative spaces than just click on Julia over at Stamping Ground to be transported. 
I wish my desk had lots of productivity happening but yeah you guessed it...nada! 
But here's the desk...for what it's worth. I'm hoping one day very soon it will all be sorted and in full creative swing! 
The cases don't mean that I've had enough and am about to do a runner...(although that thought had crossed my mind)...its full of handbags, shoes and anything else that would fit. It's such a shame because my daughter had moved some of her belongings into the room last weekend, but as soon as she went off for a week to London, things crept back into the space...but I'll have it all sorted by the time she returns...(gulp)...promise 
(that's just in case she see's this mess)

But there's something I really am thrilled to share with you today and that's Andrew Marr's book about Drawing. 
Have you seen it?
My daughter bought me a copy as part of my Christmas present and it's perfect because he considers all aspects of drawing from the mechanical process to fine art and everything in between. How the act of drawing is as important as what is created at the end. 

For those people who don't know Andrew Marr, he is a journalist and TV presenter who loves to draw and has done since his childhood.  
(Andrew Marr...self portrait)

The book is brilliantly written with fantastic examples of his work. 
It talks about the importance of doing and making, for a happy life.
Andrew suffered a near fatal stroke and art helped in his recovery. 
It's quite a remarkable story and definitely food for thought. 
I hope you'll take a look at it if you get a chance. 

Anyway...I'm off now to try to move more stuff about, but in-between I'll try to visit everyone that visits me at least...it's no good saying that I'll get to the whole WOYWW gang because I know I never could...but I'll try my best.  
Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone...enjoy and thanks for stopping by...it's always great to see you! 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Yay...it's Friday and I'm ready to party with PPF and APR

I can't believe that today I've actually managed to complete a piece of artwork. YAY!
After a great week weather wise with lots of fantastic sunshine, today turned out to be rather grey and that freezing north wind blew. 
So much so that it really wasn't a good day to be outside voluntarily...so I stayed indoors. 
After flinging myself around for most of the morning, ticking chores and messages off my never ending list, I decided to get tough with myself and finally sat down at the kitchen table to finish the kingfisher picture I started a few weeks back. 
Here's a reminder...
I tried desperately to be loose with it and not stress too much and for most parts it worked but old habits die hard. 
There's a few things that I'm not happy about...but I'll not mention them because maybe... just maybe you won't notice them. 
My main aim was to just get something into my journal. 
And guess what? 
I've now got an idea for what I'd like to do for tomorrow...whoohoo...so it looks like I may have kick started my mojo into action at last. 

I'm so happy that I feel like partying...so I'm linking up with Paint Party Friday and the Artist's Play Room.
Why don't you take a look and have fun too - just click on the blue writing above to be transported to the party.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Spring Watch at my place

Yoohoo...I'm here!
I've been missing and I'm hoping that you've been devastated missed me because I certainly missed you.
Quite a few things just took over last week and I couldn't fit blogging in (gasp) 
I know, it shocked me too because I normally can manage that no matter what, but I now realise that I'm not superhuman and can't do everything which has come as a blow. 
But I won't give in...I'm hoping I can catch up in the next few days. 
(I stopped by the roadside to take this blossom photo...it just made me smile) 
There was a little trip to Glasgow for a few days and last weekend McMuffy became ill. She's okay now thankfully but I was really quite worried about her at the time. 
She's normally so healthy it came as a surprise and not one I'd like to repeat. 
We haven't had any positive diagnosis other than a possible stomach upset, but it was really quite scary to see her so unwell. 
(Twisted/Corkscrew Hazel Tree in our garden...looking beautiful at any time of year)
So where are we? 
Well I'm pleased to report that we seem to be getting a little of the house back as each day passes. The amount of dust sheets covering everything has diminished, although I have to say some of them were as useful as a teabag...the dust just seemed to go right through. 

(I've kept this photo deliberately small...basically because it's such a mess) 

Who would have guessed that choosing a new external front door could take up so much time and cause so much anxiety. I wanted our new door to make a statement and for me to instantly fall in love with it, like I have done with the new windows, but unfortunately that hasn't happened.  
I'm pleased with the windows, in fact I couldn't be more pleased...but the front door is another story and has been a real challenge...one I haven't won...yet. 
I'm so nervous of making a mistake in my choice...for the second time! 
Yes, I've already picked one, had it made, paid for it and had it installed but I hate don't like it. 
The poor builders face when he enthusiastically asked with a beaming smile..."well what do you think?" suddenly took a downward turn when I just crinkled my nose and shrugged my shoulders. I tried to like it, honestly I did, but it just wasn't meant to be. 
I couldn't put my finger on what was wrong initially other than the colour stain of the wood, but if you're like me you know what you like and what you don't - instantly. 
We've now worked it out that the dimensions weren't correct. 
Glass to wood ratio wasn't what I wanted. 
It's unfortunate that I didn't see the door before we made the final choice and I know that sounds crazy but we didn't. Don't ask me how this happened because even on reflection I really don't know. Maybe it was the sales rep and builders enthusiasm that swept me away. Statements like "it'll be stunning" etc may have persuaded me but I should have insisted on seeing the stain and a photo or at least a drawing of the door first...and so back to the drawing board to choose another. 
I think I'm getting there...fingers crossed.
I've certainly learnt from this experience though. 

(Hellebore...a sure sign spring is here)
Yesterday I escaped for a few hours into the garden.
 I'm a little worried that its going to burst into life and leave me behind. 
There is so much to do so if/when the sun shines...I'm out there! 
I planted some new plants into a border which was delightful until the sun dipped down and I felt that chilly wind blow. I then decided enough was enough and it was time to call it a day. I enjoyed a much needed cuppa whilst looking back and assessing my handy work. Don't you just love that? Enjoying a much needed cuppa and looking back over your work. The border is still not finished so I'll not show it to you just yet. 
I also put some potatoes into a sack to grow. I've done this before and been surprised how successful this method can be (see here). 
I'd have liked to put them into an allocated raised bed but unfortunately we are way off starting the veg plot. There's talk of a little digger coming (the mechanical kind) to help so we may get to it but there again...who knows? 

(Blue Anemone)
Have you seen this feather before? 
I can't remember if I've mentioned or shown it to you before. 
It's amazing because I noticed it when we first arrived back here in July. It was clinging to a branch of the rust tree. Can you believe that it's still clinging on seven months later? 
It's managed to stay there even with all the elements throwing everything at it. 
I'm wondering just how long it will stay?
Now that's staying power through all forms of adversity. 

Maybe there's a lesson there for us all. 

Just to let you know that I'm trying to visit everyone and I know I haven't replied to all the lovely emails and comments that I've received but I hopefully will.
Enjoy your week and like the feather if its tough for whatever reason...hang on in there...I'm sure it'll get better.
psst....still no lambs 
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