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

Wednesday 30 July 2014

What's On Your Work Desk Wednesday...WOYWW #269...feathers

You aren't going to believe how quick I'm going to be this morning...this could be a gold medal if they awarded medals for short posts for WOYWW. 
If you visited my blog yesterday, then you'll know I had a 'ME' day and as part of that self-indulging day, I nipped into the art room and had a play. 
I had hoped to finish the feathers but time ran away with me. 
I'm hoping to nip back in there sometime today to carry on painting. 
I've got a few appointments first so it'll be a squeeze but one I'm willing to make. 
The feather appeared under one of the trees in our garden yesterday. 
I'm not sure who lost it...maybe a buzzard perhaps, but if you know what bird it would belong to then I'd be really interested to hear from you. 

If you're unsure what WOYWW is all about, then click here and you'll be transported to Julia over at Stamping Ground.

So that's it for today folks...

Have a brilliant day! 

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Sticky Chicken with Sesame and Chilli

Today I thought I'd award myself with a 'ME' day.
Never heard of it? 
Well they are very rare, priceless and a bit of a phenomenon... they don't happen very often. So what do you do with a 'ME' day? 
Flick a duster around? 
Re-organise your drawers? 

I decided that for my 'ME' day, I'd only do what I wanted to do and not listen to that horrible, guilty, negative voice that would choose some of the most boring chores it could find. I decided that I'd paint and try out a new recipe.

I feel I have been in a rut with my cooking lately, relying on old favourites or easy quick meals with summer upon us (other than when I have guests of course). 
So I decided to browse through one of my daughter's recipe books. 
My choice was 'What Katie Ate' by Katie Quinn Davies, which contains fantastic recipes and brilliant photographs all taken by Katie herself. 
She's a blogger too.
If you'd like to check out Katie's blog then click here...I can highly recommend it.

So what to choose first from the 'What Katie Ate' recipe book?
I decided to go with a great mid-week, easy-peasy, 'throw-it-all-in-the-baking-dish' meal (
they're Katie's words not mine) I just love her ethos don't you? 

Sticky Chicken with Sesame and Chilli
Katie said that she thought I'd have most of the ingredients in my fridge or cupboard and she wasn't wrong. There were quite a few ingredients but it was so simple to pull together and so tasty. There were four very clean plates at the end of dinner which is always a winner for me.

Mmm...can you smell that? 

I'm afraid there isn't a final photograph...possibly the worst thing I could forget, but we were so keen to eat and I get quite a lot of hassle if I stop to photograph the food. I've over done this on numerous occasions that the starving masses have lost patience with me. 
(In fact to highlight this... my son has just come to check what I'm up to and said... I'd prefer you to cook some Mum, instead of talking about it' (typical)
See what I'm up against! 

I think I'll be working through this great recipe book in the coming weeks. 
But don't take my word for it or my photographs (they don't do it justice) 
Go and take a look for yourself. 
Click here to read Katie's blog and see her recipe book for yourself.

I'm off now to finish my painting and then there's that book waiting.
Enjoy your day whatever you get up to... hopefully you're indulging too. 

Monday 21 July 2014

Producing Potatoes

I didn't plan to post today, but then I thought I'd share my excitement with you.
Have I won the lottery, received happy post or found a long lost relative? 
Nope none of those things but I'm still hyperventilating and excited.
Why you may ask...?
Well the tatties (potatoes for anyone outside of Scotland) have produced babies and quite a few at that! I'm shocked to say the least because they have managed this feat even with masses of neglect. 
It just goes to show if I can grow them then anyone can. 
I do plan one day to produce a beautiful veggie plot... all neat and tidy with raised beds and Monty Don's (gardening guru) type greenhouse, potting shed alongside numerous cold frames and masses of healthy produce for us to just pick and eat as we wish. 
Hey there's nothing wrong with dreaming big. 
Heaven knows where I'd steal the time from to attend to all this additional work, but it's on the plan. I think it may be Phase 23 of our renovations but it is there.
So where did I grow these little golden jewels? 
Well I used an old compost bag!!! 
(or two to be precise in this instance)

Yep it's that easy.
 I bought the potatoes that I'd like to grow and eat, and then left them to chit.
I'm not being rude here...that's the official term for letting the tatties grow little sprouts (not the green Christmas type veg, just to clarify as we're talking veggies here) but little roots.
Here's a link if you're interested in reading about chitting...click here

Leave a little compost in the bottom of a rolled down compost bag (or any container for that matter, as long as it will allow for more compost to be added later). 
I like to think that I'm making good use of the old tough plastic compost bags by reusing them. They work perfectly but don't forget to put a few holes in the bottom of the bag to allow drainage. As the potatoes sprout their new green leaves you need to add a little more compost up the stalks. This process is repeated as the stems grow and roll up the bag to allow more depth for the tatties to grow. They need to be kept in the dark and receive plenty of watering. (This is another part of my neglect and surprisingly they forgave me ...well with builders, renovations, visitors and generally my absentmindedness what do you expect?)
But look what came out of those bags...
How fantastic are these little beauties? 
(I weighed them and there's about 2.5 kilo's)
There were two different varieties of which I can only remember one... Désirée
I did leave the label in each bag but one has completely disintegrated. 
I don't mind what variety they are... I think they look scrumptious and I'm certainly going to do the best I can for us all to appreciate our own produce! 
Here's another post that I did when living in Melbourne and used plastic grow bags with as much success if you'd like to know more click here.
Okey dokey... that's it for today folks
It's great to have you stop by for a natter.
I hope to see you again soon 

Thursday 17 July 2014

The birds and the bees....

Remember back in April, I added a bee mat at the edge of my garden to help create a bee haven. 
Well I thought you might like an update. 
Was it a success or not? 
(click here if you want to see the first post about the mat)
Here's the outcome....I think it's a BIG hit don't you?
I'm not sure that our bee population has increased because we've always had good numbers, especially with all of the blooms that are available around here. But I'm happy not only doing my bit with the current reports of the declining bee population but also growing new plants that I haven't tried before. 
I'm not entirely sure that my hubby and especially my son are in agreement with me as they both suffer with hayfever. 
My son is particularly bad but I'm telling myself it's more of the grasses that irritate him (other than me obviously) and not the wild flowers. 
Yeah I know...
We are surrounded by wild flowers, hedgerows and grasses where we are located, so other than moving to the sea (and I'm NOT moving anywhere for the foreseeable future) 
we'll keep trying different products and take medical advice for now. 
Talking of my son and hubby has reminded me of an amazing... nay... in fact shocking outcome this week. 
I know that the World Cup has finished and you were all probably sick of it by the time it came to an end, but let me tell you one more story. 
We had a family sweep for the World Cup and I won it...
Out of 25 people... I won!
(Some of the participants are keen football fans too... snigger) 
It wasn't just a question of picking out a team though as I had to think of scores for each match, at each stage and the highest scoring footballer and....and...etc etc (okay what I'm trying to say is that it wasn't just luck. Skill, football knowledge and okay maybe a little luck too was needed)
Now to say that my hubby and son have gone into shock over this is an understatement. But rightly so... how on earth can something like this happen?
How can a girlie know about football?
(A clue - maybe the thirty odd years of listening and watching has finally seeped in)
The look on their faces when I showed them the email containing the score table was priceless. I wish I'd have anticipated it to take a photo.
Now I don't want to gloat too much (HA just watch me!) especially to all of the other participants, but I'm going to milk this one...milk it big time...possibly for years to come! 

(cough) Sorry I just felt the urge to run around the room with my t-shirt pulled over my head singing the TV theme tune to Match of the Day (again)!  
(Here's a peek at one of my bird feeders with a greenfinch and goldfinches stopping to enjoy the sunflower hearts. I blame Brinvale bird food for providing such great seed that I'm having to reorder on a more frequent basis. 
But we have so many birds visiting our garden now and we're reaping the rewards. By the way, I'm not receiving any reimbursement for saying this, but I think if a product and service are good, then they should get the recognition for it 

You may have heard reports that the UK is melting today with higher temperatures forecast for tomorrow? 
Well not quite melting but having incredible temperatures just now. 
Let me put the record straight and tell you those temperatures are in the south of the country. Here in Aberdeenshire (up on the North East coast of Scotland) then it's very much a different story. Yes its warmer, but wait for it Australian visitors...just 19C today which is one of the hottest days we've had so far. 
I know I can hear you laughing from here and it's nearly the end of July. 
Here above is one of my latest visitors and I'm so happy that he's come to call. 
Mr Bullfinch.
He brings his Misses for breakfast/lunch/dinner too, so we're feeling very privileged.

I think the most surprising visitors have been pure white doves shown below. 
We started off with just two, but then one morning three arrived and at one stage we had seven, but we're now back to three most days. I have no idea where they have come from or to whom they belong, but someone will be wondering where they go all day long and why they don't want feeding when they arrive back! 

Well today was a bit of a mixed bag wasn't it?
When I sat down to natter with you, I hadn't a clue what I was going to talk about. 
I've got lots of posts in the mysterious depths of my mind (a scary place even for me to delve) but no doubt they'll all see the light of day at some stage.
I'm off to water the garden now and maybe I'll water myself with a ice cold Gin an Tonic as a reward whilst watching the sunset put on yet another spectacular display. 
Wherever you are on the planet...stay either cool or cosy and I hope you'll pop by again soon. 
Toodleloo for now
p.s. I've got visitors arriving this month and next so I want to try out a new recipe I've come across. It has a Scottish theme so I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday 10 July 2014

Wildlife Photography Workshop at Haddo House

I've been browsing through my many folders of photographs when I realised that I never got to share with you my participating in a wildlife photography workshop at a Scottish National Trust property.
I remember visiting Haddo House many years ago, but unfortunately I was on a mission this time, so didn't get to revisit inside the house. 
That will have to be for another day. 
Pretty spectacular isn't it?
(The above and below photographs are courtesy of the Haddo House website. I stayed in the grounds of the property so didn't really get to see the house or get a chance to take my own photos of it. If you'd like to visit Haddo House to check out all what's happening and there's always something going on, it really is worth visiting or if you're interested in it's history then click here.
The house was originally designed in 1732 so there's a lot of history!
Anyway more about the house perhaps on another day...we're off to join the intrepid trackers for a photo shoot of wildlife and to explore the extensive gardens and country park. Did I mention that there's also a tearoom in the old stable block too? 
That was where the group of enthusiasts met one Sunday morning back in May. 
Our professional wildlife photographer and cameraman was the delightful Cain Scrimgeour, who has filmed wildlife around the world - from Botswana to Peru. 
(He's produced films for the RSPB, Northumberland National Park, English Heritage, The Natural History Society of Northumbria. He's also worked as a specialist camera operator for ITV’s Tales of Northumberland with Robson Green so he's got quite a pedigree) 

After an initial introduction over a cuppa aided by some of Cain's fantastic photography we stepped outside. 
Here's Cain sharing some of his story's and showing different hides for experiencing nature up close and personal. 
As you can see it was not only informative but also a relaxed enjoyable workshop.
The thumb belongs to one of the group who very enthusiastically volunteered to demonstrate one of the hides. 
I hasten to add that I was not in fatigues or camouflager gear but did pass the initial talk about what was appropriate clothing to wear to get the best out of the landscape and not frightening everything within a 10 mile radius of my camera. 
So let's begin...
Bluebells... ahhh
I got slightly carried away here (click, click, click) then realised that although I'd thought to buy a complete new memory card for my camera, which would have allowed me to take gazillion's of pictures, unfortunately I hadn't thought to buy an additional battery. 
Is that the cardinal sin for a photographer I wonder, because if it is I'm guilty but I did my penance by feeling extremely foolish and totally embarrassed. 
I can promise you it'll never happen again that's for sure. 
But in the meantime, it was only a red flashing warning light... I still had power and I wasn't afraid to use it! 

Surprisingly to me there are rules (which Cain kindly explained) to follow when trying to obtain that perfect shot and I was far from the mark, but when your model refuses to co-operate and time is of the essence, then click that'll have to do for now. 
I enjoyed what I did take and surprisingly was quite pleased with my results. 
I'd like to nip back early one morning because although it was quite quiet and the wildlife seems to be quite relaxed with everyone around, it would be better with less people. 
As in the bluebell wood, this wild garlic patch held us captive for quite some time. 
I have numerous photos with bee's and insects etc in various angles of activity, but none unfortunately that are in focus. I was playing with all the various switches and dials on my camera 
(I know I should know what the technical terms are for all these things, but that just highlights that I point and shoot without all the theory behind me and hope for the best) 
I really must go on another photography course to get to grips with all these delicate maneuvers and technical terms. 
All I know is that at this stage the red battery low light was flashing...argh! 
Which believe it or not is slightly distracting. 
I have a soft spot for pheasants and actually did meet one at the gatehouse on the way into Haddo House, so when I saw this building that in it's past was devoted purely to housing pheasants I couldn't resist to take a snap.

At this stage I wanted to crawl under a stone myself, but the very kind and generous Cain handed me his camera to use!

Can you believe it. 
He's a fantastic guy and truly generous with not only passing on his knowledge, tips and ideas but his equipment too. 
Hero of the day.
I felt like I was being handed the crown jewels. I was so nervous to really put it through it's paces, although it was good to have a tinker of another make of camera. 
I was hoping like riding a well schooled horse in a riding stables that knows the ropes, the camera would just take the most amazing shots because that's what it knows best... not having some novice man-handling it as in my case. 
You could almost hear it tut! 

But thankfully the day wasn't spoilt... even with my stupid error of not having an extra battery tucked away about my person. 
It was fantastic and so enjoyable that I can really recommend getting out there with a group of like minded people 
(it's amazing what little snippets and tips you can pick up along the way) 

As usual I'm enjoying capturing anything that takes my eye, trying to remember all that Cain said and will continue to hopefully see some good results.
If you'd like to visit Cain's blog here's the link
I'm hoping to perhaps set up a gallery in my sidebar to show all of my favourite photos taken on my camera. 
That is if I can work out how to do it Emoji
In the meantime here's just a few for now
The fine looking bullfinch below was photographed in my sisters garden but I'm thrilled to say we now have our own pair of bullfinches visiting our garden too.
I hope you'll continue to visit... the kettle's never far from boiling and if you're lucky there might even be some home baked cakes on offer too. 
Until next time have a great day and enjoy your local wildlife.

Wednesday 2 July 2014

What's On Your Work Desk Wednesday...WOYWW #265...

Well hello there... 
It's been simple ages since I joined in with the WOYWW gang but I'm pleased to be able to show you my desk today. 
(If you're wondering what on earth I'm talking about...it's all due to Julia over at Stamping Ground so pop over there to check it out if you can). 
So without further ado...here's the desk.
I decided to draw my sisters garden as a line drawing (it's safer than painting for me...but hopefully I'll develop my painting skills when I join the art group in September). 

It's all from memory but I've tried to include some of the major features.
There's so much in her garden, so I had to edit. The pond isn't featured which is a shame nor the fox, but there's the vine and apple tree, plus some of the visitors that pop in regularly...cats, squirrel and masses of birds.
I love to draw using a black ink pen. I find it incredibly relaxing once I know the design I'm aiming for....before that it can be a little stressful. This is something else I've got to work on. 

The photos above show the progress of the drawing. 
And here's the finished piece.
I've just come off the phone from nattering with her and yes she's pleased (phew)
We're both big gardening fans (if you remember we visited Chelsea Flower Show last month together with my daughter and had a great trip) 
In keeping with the garden theme today...here's a photo of a little peony and sweet pea posy that I picked from the garden. The perfume is enough to knock your socks off! 

So I'll let you get on with desk hopping and having fun with the WOYWW gang. 
Thanks for stopping by https://secure.quebles.com/content/hotmail/emoticons/1511763.gif
Hopefully I'll see you again soon 
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