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

Sunday 28 February 2016

My Sunday Photo... Wild Birds

I'm a complete and utter addict when it comes to wild birds visiting my garden. 
I just can't get enough.
I have three feeding stations dotted around my house and I currently buy 35 kilo's of seed ever few weeks! 
It costs a fortune, but I think it's worth it.
 When we first arrived back to this house from our expat travels, I was really worried because I hardly ever saw a wild bird in the garden. 
But as they say "if you build it... they will come" and they certainly did. 
As a rough guide at the moment I have five doves visiting every day 
(I have no idea who they belong to... there were seven, but I prefer not to think about where the other two have gone) four Great Spotted Woodpeckers, four Robins, a flock of somewhere between 20 and 30 Goldfinches, a few Green finches and possibly a dozen or so Chaffinches, masses of Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal Tits and at least 15 Wood Pigeons. 
Oh and I mustn't forget the two crazy Crows that had taken a complete obsession to my garden mirror. I decided to take the mirror away thinking I was doing the best for them, but now they are attacking the patio windows to my dining room. 
I first thought someone was knocking at the door... and couldn't work it out what was going on. 
I'll try to get a photo of them because it really is quite a sight... as is my paving now with poop pebble dashing! 
They've even moved plant pots to get nearer! 

This week I've included two photos.
It's been the RSPB's National Nest Box week, 
So I thought I'd include the photo below. 
It's another favourite of mine.
He seems to like the new place... let's hope the Misses does too!
As usual I'm linking up with My Sunday Photo
and Through my lens 
Why not nip across and see lots more photos by clicking on the links above. 
Have a wonderful weekend everyone and I hope to see you again soon

Thursday 25 February 2016

Wonky Veg... PPF and Sunday Sketches

It seems that there is a great emphasis on how things look in this day and age... creams to make your wrinkles vanish, shoes that make you 10 feet taller, or cleverly designed clothes to give the illusion of a completely different shape than the one you have. 
But I'm absolutely thrilled that things may be changing... well changing in regard to fruit and vegetables anyway. 
(I've always preached to my children to never judge a book by it's cover)
I'm not sure if you are aware that 20-40% of fruit and veg produced by UK farmers ends up wasted; either left for animal feed, ploughed back into the land or sent to landfill, because supermarkets don't want them. It seems there's a perception that the public won't buy 'ugly' produce, they prefer uniformity with size, colour and shape!

Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty (celebrity chef and television presenters) are on a mission to change our minds. On a television programme they visited a farm and highlighted just how much vegetables are wasted because they don't meet with current guidelines. 
So Jamie and Jimmy have persuaded a leading supermarket (Asda) to launch a trial to see if people will buy the 'ugly' veg. 
It was staggering to see just how much fresh produce doesn't make it even out of the farm gates. 
Since I saw those huge mountains of parsnips and carrots, I've been on my own little campaign to 
promote wonky veg... because they may have the odd shape (haven't we all) or blemishes but they are all 'beautiful on the inside'.
I mean it just makes so much sense. 
We peel and chop most of these veg anyway, especially as it's the colder weather where casserole, stews and soups are the order of the day!

After visiting the supermarket to buy my box of wonky veg, I was both disappointed that they didn't have any left... but thrilled that they'd sold out quickly and were waiting for new stock! 
So whilst I wait for my box, I decided to paint a box to join up with the Paint Party Friday link.
Here's my initial sketch.
It's quite difficult to resist the temptation to paint the veg to look their best... after all they're supposed to be 'ugly'. 
I had to resist tweaking.
When half a million people in the UK are dependent on food banks, it's ludicrous and criminal to waste such vast amounts of food just by it's looks. 

Here's the final box of 'Beautiful on the inside' vegetables. 
(I must confess it was incredibly difficult for me to paint the cardboard box).
So if like me you feel strongly about waste, then please ask your supermarket to take part in these trials. They might find out that people wouldn't have a problem with the odd knobble or crinkle.
I know I'm very forgiving... I only have to look in the mirror!
Apologies to any PPF artist that I didn't visit last week. 
I've no idea where that last week went?
I promise I'll try harder to get around this coming week.
Paint Party Friday
I'm also linking up with Alexandra's  Sunday Sketches 
I hope you have a wonderful weekend with lots of creativity.

Saturday 20 February 2016

My Sunday Photo... Orchid

This is one of my favourite photographs so I thought I'd share it and link up with Photo A Life,  Through my lens 

I hope you're having a wonderful weekend

Thursday 18 February 2016

Belgian Chocolates... PPF

Personally, I've never expected any gift to celebrate Valentine's Day, which is possibly just as well because that way I'm never disappointed. 
But this week I received a gift that I just didn't expect... from an unexpected source.
Ahh... I thought that might get your attention!
Chocolates are always a winner in my book, but I never expected a box of Belgian Chocolates from a local supermarket!  
I'd received a note through the post saying that because I was special, I should go along to my local supermarket to collect a box of chocolates.
Well it worked for me... (I'm easily pleased) 
Miraculously, I haven't opened them yet because foolishly I decided that I'd paint them first. 
What was I thinking?!?!?
I'm always surprised that many times I've chosen to draw or paint something which I think will be relatively easy, only turns out to be incredibly involved and difficult.
What may look like a simple object to paint and a good idea initially, turns into a complex project.
Firstly, painting gold is difficult! 
Secondly, detailed lettering is a nightmare. 
And thirdly, having to have the willpower not to open the box midway through painting it, took far more willpower than I thought I possessed. 
I was going to leave it as a work in progress (as I normally do for PPF) whilst I opened one end... just to test their freshness... but then I thought I'd never manage to repackage them, so had to be firm and resist.
Okay, so now I'm talking about them and have finally finished painting them... I'm off to eat them!

Here's the link for anyone wishing to join in with the Paint Party Friday link.
If you'd like to see more artists work then click below.
Paint Party Friday
I'm also linking up with Alexandra's  Sunday Sketches 
Thanks for stopping by, especially if you've left a comment.
Have a wonderful weekend and I hope to see you again soon.

Saturday 13 February 2016

My Sunday Photo... A country stroll

I think we must have had every option on the weather front during this last week or so. 
Thankfully there has been little glitches in the icy rain and snow flurries to be able to get outside and enjoy a good brisk walk. 

My daughter is staying with us this weekend, so she took this photo of Mum and Muffin.
As usual Muffy had come across an interesting smell that had to be investigated... so as usual we were lagging behind. 
It never ceases to amaze me when you notice little changes in nature that indicate it's time to say goodbye to one season and welcome another. 
I'll not be too sad to see winter go... and oh boy will I gladly welcome spring!
If you'd like to see more photo's then click on the camera and join us over at Photo A Life 

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

Friday 12 February 2016

Paint Party Friday... Artichoke

The spring bug had seriously bitten me earlier in the week, so I thought for this week's Paint Party Friday's link with Eva and Kristin I would paint something springy.
Setting myself up on the kitchen table once more I got to work.
I thought I'd create a new 'My Week on a Page', but then it seemed rather ridiculous with what was happening outside this morning!
Take a look...
Let me tell you icy rain is no joke!

I had wanted to paint a crow. 
Mainly, because we have two resident crows that are spending 90% of their time in our garden. 
Most of that time unfortunately is spent with them attacking the garden mirror. 
Remember Muffin had a set to with her own reflection last year, thinking her reflection was another trespassing dog... well now it's the turn of the crows!
Obviously the crows must think the same... a rival that has to be dealt with before the spring shenanigans... or they want to win over the new bird on the block!

But because the weather was so awful I had a change of plan... I decided to paint an artichoke that I'd picked a few days ago from the garden. 
When the weather had been good earlier in the week, I'd spent a few hours tidying up and couldn't resist picking it.
I struggled, but not as you might think... with mixing paint or the composition of this piece, but because I'd had a great chunk of cast iron land on my hand this morning, whilst I was cleaning the grill on the wood burner!
Oh boy did I let out a yell... and a few colourful expletives too.
So here's the artichoke partly done... I wanted to show the wip without any of the black ink outlines.
It seems that I'm just not able finish a painting without using my trusty micron/ uni-ball ink pen.
I'm not particularly liking the angle and wish that I'd have drawn it more from the side view, but at least I managed to get something onto the paper.
That's it folks... I'm off to put an ice pack on my hand and drink a nice glass of red (with my non dominant hand) for medicinal purposes, of course.

Here's the link for anyone to join in with the Paint Party Friday if you'd like to see more artists work.
Paint Party Friday
I'm also linking up with Alexandra's  Sunday Sketches 

Have a wonderful fun weekend everyone and thanks for visiting my place. 

Monday 8 February 2016

Spring came to call

I just couldn't contain my excitement today because spring came to call. 
It was a total surprise. I didn't expect it, but you can be sure that I made the most of it... and so did Miss Mufftypup!
Whilst she had a fantastic workout in the woods and a good run home, I spent a few hours outside tidying up the garden.
As you can see here in this little video clip, the birds were in fine voice. 
I missed capturing the geese flying over...yet another good sign of spring. 
They're returning back North!
I tried desperately to obtain a close up photograph of a robin, who was keeping me company as I worked. He was so close at times, busily trying to see what I might unearth, but as soon as I reached for my camera he flew!
I'm sure he was toying with me. 
I even uprooted some carrots that I'd forgotten about.
I thought they might have rotted away due to all of the wet weather we've experienced over the winter months, but I was pleasantly surprised. 
I dubiously pulled one and it was a really good (straight) specimen. 
So I pulled another... and that too was perfect.
They looked fantastic... I just hope they taste the same.
I hope you had an enjoyable start to the week. 

Sunday 7 February 2016

My Sunday Photo... Fawkner Park, Melbourne

With the continuation of dark grey days, I'm obviously craving light at the moment and there's no better light than in the Southern Hemisphere. 
This photo shows the nearby park that became my regular daily dog walk, when we lived in Melbourne, Australia. It's name is Fawkner Park named after Melbourne's co-founder, John Pascoe Fawkner, and first reserved in 1862, Fawkner Park remains largely unchanged from its original design.
I would love to stroll around this park once more with its meandering paths lined with Moreton Bay figs, elms, poplars and oaks trees.
Muffin and I had some lovely walks here.  
It introduced her to grass and trees, after living in the Middle East.
A doggy paradise.
Fawkner Park is a popular park in Melbourne's South Yarr and part of the City of Melbourne.
 It provides recreational areas for teams playing Cricket, Softball, Soccer, Australian Rules Football, Tennis and Rugby.
I've seen early morning fitness classes enjoying working out in the open air, children having fun in the play park and people enjoying the free on-site barbecues and picnic areas at the weekends.
And of course the usual joggers and dog walkers.
Fond memories indeed.

(if you'd like to read more about the park then click here to be transported to an old post written way back in 2012)

I hope the light improves soon with the arrival of spring.
Have fun outdoors if you can.

If you'd like to see more photo's then click on the camera and join us over at Photo A Life 

Happy weekend everyone and thanks for stopping by.

Friday 5 February 2016

An Eclectic Mix for PPF and Sunday Sketches.

Today I have an eclectic mix for Paint Party Friday
I've had a busy week once again and therefore haven't spent a lot of time being creative. 
So I thought I'd show you a picture that I hung in my dining room earlier in the month. 
It's special for numerous reasons. 
Firstly, because it was drawn by my daughter (if you'd like to see more of her art you can go to her website Nic Allan by clicking here)
Secondly, it's a tree and anyone who knows me, knows how much I love trees and thirdly it's an autumn scene. 
The frame hasn't shown up properly (yet another grey wet day here... so not the best for photography) it actually happens to be a warm gold colour.
I think it actually looks like wood in this photo.
But I adore the pencil work... I think the shading is spectacular.
(I maybe shooting myself in the foot because if she sees it here, she may want to take it to her new apartment)
Here's a closer look but once again I apologise for my photographic inability to do the drawing justice. 
(If you notice a pink tinge to the bottom of the frame above... that's the reflection of my jumper. Pretty in pink today. 
I'm determined to bring colour into my day in whatever form I can).
I can't resist the opportunity to show you another artistic creation from a family member. 
This time it's my nephew and his new hobby... wood turning!
He's taken logs from my sister's wood burner store (thankfully with permission) and creates amazing wooden bowls.
I mean how clever and talented is that?
He's the proud owner of his own lathe now and turns a chunk of wood into these beautiful bowls and candle sticks. 
The first picture shows a type of log off cut but obviously for a bowl he uses larger pieces.
They are beautifully smooth and the grain varies, depending on the piece or type of wood. 
I had this one as a gift, but I'm putting in an order for a larger bowl plus candlesticks.

And finally a little something from myself.
As I mentioned I didn't get time to play this week, but because it's Chinese New Year on Monday, I thought I'd draw a little monkey picture, whilst waiting for dinner to cook.
It's the year of the Monkey (Fire Monkey)
Enjoy your weekend especially if you are celebrating the Chinese New Year.

Here's the link to join in with the Paint Party Friday if you'd like to see more artists work.
Paint Party Friday

I'm also linking up with Alexandra's  Sunday Sketches 
Just before I sign off I want to thank Jennifer McLean over at Just add water silly
for my new signature below. She very kindly came up with the design and led me through how to attach it here. I'm not sure whether it might confuse with it being my real name. 
Denise and not Neesie... let me know what you think. 
I used Neesie in order to rename anonymous when I first started blogging. 
(It's the name my brother used to call me when we were young) 
But quite a few followers have started using Denise now. 
Thanks once again Jenn... but I think you might be the star and not me!

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