Thursday, 16 January 2014

New Beginnings

After the glitter, food, friendship and cosiness of those dark Christmassy days, January is exciting because it heralds the arrival of new things to learn, bake, eat and share while waiting for the nights to draw out and the frosts (rains!) to pass.

My current New Thing To Learn is Zentangles and here’s my example created last night….

And here’s the official (!) description from the website :

Zentangles are miniature pieces of unplanned, abstract, black and white art created through a very specific Method from an ensemble of simple, structured patterns on a 3.5-inch (89 mm) square paper tile. Zentangles are not only exquisitely beautiful, they are fun and relaxing to create.
The process of creating a Zentangle is a form of “artistic meditation” as one becomes completely engrossed in making each pattern, deliberately focusing on “one stroke at a time”®. The creativity options and pattern combinations are boundless. And anyone can do it!

Those words “artistic meditation” really leap out at me having done little (oh ok, none) of either for too long! It’s worth having a poke around the internet for more images to see just how complex and beautiful this artwork can be and since my job and recent house move (more later..) requires that I live 95% of my time in my left brain, I’m interested in anything which prods my creative right brain into action. A word of warning – do not – no, really don’t – search for Renaissance Zentangles and don’t follow this link because you don’t need to know what gorgeous results can be got from tan coloured card and some red and white pens.

So back to that house move. Finally, after 6 years of only seeing each other at weekends because of our jobs and locations, things changed to enable us to actually move in together. It was enormously difficult to accept that I had to dismantle my lovely, comfortable, crafty Week Day Home and take that leap of faith but leap I did and am now happily nesting with Himself in a little cottage down a little lane in a little village buried deep in the South Gloucestershire hills near to Bath. Himself will have an official blog name at some point, I’ve asked him to think about it. It’s been equally challenging for Himself, who had to plaster walls, build wardrobes into nooks and crannies, endure visits to the big blue and yellow flat pack store, virtually dismantle his kitchen and rebuild a chimney to accommodate me and my ridiculously massive but satisfyingly solid cooker. It’s been a true labour of love for the past 6 months taking up our spare evenings and precious weekends to combine two houses and two lives into one but we’ve done it.
And here are 2 before and 1 after picture which show how much we both had to move not just mentally but physically!

Christmas was therefore spent together with me happily pottering around our newish kitchen enjoying baking and cooking for a bunch of people and experimenting with a whole load of new recipes. Some of which turned out to be real crowd pleasers! The recipes below were all tried and tested, sometimes more than once! (My hips hate me!) There was a wonderful Malted Chocolate Cheesecake which I forgot to photograph and some really light and simple Sea Salt Water Biscuits which I did photograph....

Sweet and Spicy Nuts

Although there was no time to make my usual stack of Christmas cards, time had to be found to use some  favourite stamps from waltzing mouse stamps This is my favourite place to go for stamping inspiration. The stamps are beautiful and unusual but all work well together so you can mix and match. This one for example is from the Folk Art Medallion set so it's not a festive one at all.  I hid away from the unpacking and tidying for an afternoon to make a limited collection of these…

And then over the break, once the food had either been eaten or turned into freezer soups and casseroles, I took a little time to do some miniature experiments with a new stamp called I Dreamed of Castles by Lindsay Mason...
So now the dust has settled, the holiday period is over and it’s time to create new routines to match my new life. I’m in a different location for work now with a different and shorter (phew!) commute which is a mix of country lanes and motorway and am discovering new places to go shopping, get fuel, buy chocolate etc. Life is finding a new rhythm and it’s all exciting and it’s only January!!

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