Sunday, 30 May 2010

Other people's talent!

To start I'm just showing you you a couple of things I got recently. First here is my lovely coal-tit painted by Sam - I'd loved her bird pictures (and indeed all her illustrations) that I'd seen on her blog and had asked her to do a small one for me to go in my kitchen, and she sent me this one, isn't he beautiful?!

We have real coal-tits occasionally in the garden so it's lovely to be able to look at this one all the time, just got to get him framed! (Sam if you are reading this there is a small thank you parcel in the post!)

Second - I did a local craft fair a week last Saturday, which sadly turned out to be very unproductive in terms of sales (my friend Tammy sold just a single card) perhaps due to the extremely hot weather, but I did meet a couple of other stallholders including Sue (who has a Folksy shop here). It was a slightly strange experience only because I'd seen her work featured on Narkeymarkey's blog here just a couple of weeks before, and had liked the look of her little fabric kittens, and had completely over-looked the fact that she was so local, so wasn't expecting to see kittens to choose from so close by! I bought this one for me:

and one for my mum, who is also very much a cat person, they're just so appealing!

I'm having a bit of a creatively low phase right now, sometimes your confidence just goes a bit doesn't it (did anyone see the Child of Our Time programme last night? I think my personality is mainly just neurotic!), so I've been in the garden for hours and hours trying to really tidy it up properly - nearly there now, just a few more seedlings to plant out and borders to weed a bit more. I'm hoping to get felting again when term starts and routine goes back to normal. We're looking forward to a week together just at home. The boys have been seamlessly playing on various forms of electronic games (Wii fit table-tennis as I type) but we hope to get out cycling for a day. Archie's been climbing up his first tree:

- he did keep getting his little legs in a bit of a tangle with the branches so didn't go too high. I was in a hammock for a few minutes' rest and he kept popping into it to say hello!

Hope all of you have a good week.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Archie's Diary no.6

My mum is so busy in the garden I don't know when she'll get around to posting again, so I thought I'd better get on with my own post.

I have so much to tell you. I'm nearly all grown up now. Now I have big springy legs I can jump up really high and get into cupboards (time for a wash while I'm in there):

I can also jump on top of every cupboard in the house so now no place is safe from my exploring - I am very good apart from when I spy a buzzy fly trying to get out of the window. Then I just forget about everything else and leap madly up and down at it over and over and over again, crashing down on whatever is under my paws at the time. My mum for some reason thinks it could be time to move her special things from the windowsills. When I catch the fly I eat it very noisily and my mum has to go away until I've finished because she doesn't like the crunching and the wings sticking out of my mouth.

I had quite a long trip to the vet when the vet put me to sleep and removed some things that I thought belonged to me - I was a bit wobbly for a while but I feel fine now.

My mum hasn't made much felt recently but I did help her pack some of it up in a box.

But my most exciting news in the whole world is that my dad said I had to go out on my own, so I have been doing lots of exploring outside my house. This makes my mum very worried but it makes me extremely happy.

I have a big, beautiful garden to explore and trees to climb and hedges to poke my nose through and dogs and neighbours to stare at. The dogs were a bit upset and growly and my mum says I have to stay away from them. She also said I have to stay away from the other neighbours as they don't like cats at all, but when they were out today I went through the hedge and sat on their patio table.
I can also help my mum with jobs - here I am helping her clean the outside table by walking through the very dirty wet splashy bits, then walking over the clean bits so I leave nice pawprints:

I also discovered my dad's kayak - it's high up on top of the wood pile under the carport so I'm sure it will make a good shelter. Perhaps I could surprise people by popping up out of one of the two holes:

I have been up on all the other high-up things like the garage roof and the pergola - I can see lots from up here, look how tall I am:

My main mission though is to chase flies and bees and leap all over the plants as I catch them, and to stalk the birds. I love finding feathers and they are my best treasure. I have to carry them in to show my mum and then take them outside to skip about with, then bring them in to show my mum again so she can admire how I have chewed them, then I take them out again.

After all that intrepid exploring I'm ready for a rest on my mum's new blanket - always better when someone is lying underneath it and I can curl up behind their legs:

Monday, 17 May 2010

Another year older

Hopefully another year wiser as well, but I'm not so sure!

Here are a few of the lovely things I had from my friends and family.

A bit of a duck egg greeny-blue and pink theme going on don't you think?
A large jug to go with my smaller one was very welcome, and now has even more flowers in it although I had to take out the spiky foliage as Archie just kept on chewing it! The pink bird I bought for myself from the Fairtrade shop in Leicester - I just couldn't resist him (or her) and the simple bird shape is one of my favourites.

I had these beautifully wrapped Emma Bridgewater flower mugs from my in-laws:
and now want to collect them - they are very pricey but I can ask for one each year as a present!
And these lovely hand-made buttons:

came from my friend Tammy, who has recently opened her own Folksy shop and has committed to trying to buy hand-crafted things as presents whenever possible, so had chosen them from another Folksy seller. I think this is a really important thing to do, to buy from within the ever-growing community of like-minded crafts-people. I'm yet to sign up to Folksy as a seller but I think I'll start by looking to choose my presents from shops there and on similar sites- there is such a large range of lovely things available and it seems to be a very friendly community as some of you know because you're already part of it!

I ended up going out for coffee, lunch and a Pizza Express dinner on the day so what with the chocolates son no. 2 bought for me and the very rich dense chocolate cake he made for me all by himself, I still feel quite heavy and solid!

He also chose me some body scrub - didn't he do well?!

Son no.1, who is getting on for 15, sat at his computer having commissioned his brother to go shopping on his behalf. He later found three pound coins in his pocket and I suggested he go the relatively short distance to the local Tesco Express to get me some flowers, at which point he fixed me with a look and said "I'm not walking up the road with a bunch of flowers!" I told him this was fine, as long as he firmly embedded in his mind that once he had a girlfriend or wife, their Birthday would be of paramount importance and he must put lots of effort into choosing special things himself and on time!

On the morning itself I woke to see Archie's nose all upside-down very close to mine, he was all curled up and purry and said he was sure he himself must surely be the very best present of all!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

A very long day

Today was my first Craft Fair of this year, and it's taken me an age to get ready for it. All the making of new things to go with what I already had, and then all the details like pricing labels and then packing everything up too - this was quite a challenge as Archie just loved trying to break into the boxes to extract things. I don't know why he's so obsessed with stealing felt - I guess it is light and he can easily get his teeth and/or claws into it to run off with it!

Here is our stall in the corner of the marquee:

I was sharing with my good friend Confessions of an Artist, who today was also being her other self The Silver Moon

with her beautiful silver and sea-glass jewellery displayed on driftwood very effectively.

It ended up a lovely sunny morning as we were setting up, much better than the rain we had yesterday, and there were lots of people coming past. A lot stopped to look and some asked me questions about the process of making felt, and it was good to meet a few of the other stallholders too. The craft fair was part of the whole Countryside Open Day at the local Common so there was lots going on all around us - a Birds of Prey display outside, Llamas and Bee-keeping demos too, I didn't manage to get any photos of them but it was a good atmosphere.

I expected to sell more than I did especially of my smaller things, which is always a bit discouraging, but I did get lots of positive comments and met some very nice people.
The upside of not selling much is that I can have a proper rest for a while and everything is nicely packed up all ready for the next stall in a couple of weeks. Now I'm going to have a cup of tea and a slightly earlier night!

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Rhubarb Cake

This is our vegetable patch. Yes I know it's not got any veg in it yet - I've never had much success direct sowing, so my seedlings are in the greenhouse in modules waiting to be planted later!

But as you can see, it has got a large bushy rhubarb in the corner, which we inherited with the house nearly fourteen years ago. When we moved there was just an enormous patch of earth plus the rhubarb, currant bushes and some raspberries which kept going till a couple of years ago and now need replacing. My OH put all the beds and paths in a while ago and although it was a lot of work it's made it much more managable. I don't have time to really devote to the veg as the rest of the garden takes so much time but I'm doing courgettes, brocolli and some salad leaves plus some flowers and beans if I get round to them too!
Anyway, here is my favourite thing to do with rhubarb, it is in fact my favourite cake of all time I think - I'm trying to diet at the moment so it was a stupid time to make it, but look how beautifully pink the rhubarb is,

I just couldn't help myself. It is called Rhubarb Cornmeal cake form Nigella's Domestic Goddess Book - here is a link (to someone else's blog, just to save me typing it out!) if anybody would like to try it. The polenta/cornmeal is such a lovely golden yellow colour

and helps to soak up some of the rhubarb juices so that the cake isn't too soggy!

Perfect for tea and cake in the garden on a sunny spring afternoon - haven't quite managed that yet, and this cake's nearly gone, I'll have to make another one...
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