Monday, 28 March 2016

Highland Retreat

We have just returned from a week hidden away in the Trossachs.  Armed with a camera, sturdy walking socks and wine, it was a perfect break from routine although I did miss the internet. I was educated and raised only a few miles from this beautiful wilderness and have long loved its uncompromising remoteness. 
We packed the dog and headed north of Hadrian's Wall for his first holiday.
We rented a cottage on the shores of Loch Katrine and if you imagine the music from the film, "Local Hero" I'll shut up and let the scenery speak for itself.  These are pictures all taken around Loch Katrine and Loch Lomond. They may feature a small dog.

 And the final joy of the week - Lorne sausage.  Lorne sausage is like a sausage without the skin, shaped in a log and sliced.  It is the breakfast of brave hearts and greedy women.  I brought home 3kg of it.  My freezer is full.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Mixed Media Page - Into the Blue

For this page I had an almost fully formed idea in my mind but since it would be a couple of days before I had time to get to my craft desk, I drew a quick sketch.
My first attempt was frustratingly all wrong.
My second attempt was much closer to the picture in my head despite missing out some of the elements in the sketch such as the birds flying off in the distance and the eggs at the base.
As I was working on it, I had a problem with the bottom of the picture. For 2 days I was stuck at this stage, long legged birds just hanging, not anchored on the page.
I'd seen a fabulous stamp with exactly the foliage I needed (I don't have any foliage stamps) but it appeared to have been discontinued. I'd ordered another non-foliage related stamp from the same online company and asked about the foliage one. So today, my order arrived which was lovely but get this - the owner had replied to say the foliage stamp was indeed discontinued but she had a few left and had sent me one as a gift. That unexpected kindness made my day! Here is the gorgeous stamp from UK based Inky Doodles. They're new to me and have some really well thought out stamp combinations so I'm sure I'll be back. There are some videos with very good techniques which are worth watching too. And the leaves were exacty right for my picture so thank you Heather at Inky Doodles!

See the leaves at the bottom? I'm looking forward to playing with more of the combinations offered by this versatile stamp. Do check out Inky Doodles.
I'd wanted to keep stamping to a minimum on this page so the birds are very simple hand drawn shapes cut from white card and glued to an acrylic background spritzed with a silver mica spray.
It's both rewarding and liberating to use your own designs!

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Mixed media page - Creative Wilderness

I only had a rough picture in my mind of how I wanted this mixed media piece to look and as it took shape and I played around with different colour options and page layouts it turned out better than I had hoped. I used a range of new products including distress crayons a recent paper artsy hot picks "Home sweet home" stamp and a new cube stencil. The words were borrowed from a much larger word stamp and rearranged to suit this layout.
I used a texture paste through the cube stencil, then once it had dried, coloured the blocks with a picket fence distress marker and heat embossed it with white. The houses were stamped twice in black archival ink on white card and coloured with distress crayons. They were cut out and stuck to the page.

I used black archival ink for the small birds and used a black pen to go round the roof tops.

That was the result of my papery creative weekend. I didn't take pics but I made a tasty strawberry cheesecake from an online recipe and mint choc chip ice cream using a recipe from Mary Berry. I had to try this as its the first recipe I've seen that doesn't require you to mash up ice crystals for the part-frozen ice cream every 30 mins x lots of times x can't be bothered. For mint choc version use the base recipe provided and once everything else is mixed, stir in 1tsp peppermint extract and 100 gms dark choc chopped up. I'm not a huge ice cream lover but it's useful to have as a stand by in the freezer and I was very impressed with both the ease of this recipe and the simplicity of the natural ingredients. No fillers, gloop or bleah!
And in dog news....Buster's been watching Crufts as he recovers from his castration.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The obsessions of my dog

Buster is now a robust, affectionate 7 month old. He doesn't bark much at all but he does look as if he's talking to you and I try to guess at what he's saying. Today he is at the vets being neutered and microchipped. Next week, he gets his rabies jab and his doggy passport. If they need a photo it will be hard to find one without a red ball in it. This is his favourite thing in the whole world. He loves it more than sausages. This is the look of love....
Throw the ball.
Throw the ball.
Throw the ball.
Throw. The. Ball.
Look. The sooner you throw the ball the sooner we can all get on with our lives, ok?
You're drinking in the last chance saloon lady.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Needlefelting with Gretal

Last week, I had the perfect birthday weekend. Friday night at the cinema, Sunday night dinner at my favourite local Italian, Sotto Sotto in Bath and a Saturday workshop at the rather lovely Folly Fabrics in Bampton with Gretal Parker. I've been so inspired by Gretel's gorgeous designs in her book and various craft magazines that I was really pleased to secure my place on this workshop to learn how to make little houses. Places sell out really quickly. Himself kindly chauffeured me there as it's an hours drive away from us and I am still learning to manage the Meniere's disease I got for my birthday last year, which has reduced my driving from 20,000 miles per annum to about 20. The medication and balance rehab has helped but workshops or any meetings with more than 3 or 4 people are a challenge and can induce dizzy spells, nausea and fluctuating (ie no) hearing. But the room was bright and airy and you can cover a lot of half heard conversations with a vague smile! Here we are hard at work making shapes.
I sort of met up with Gretal in blog land so at the risk of embarrassing her, I must say that for such an indefinite craft as needle felting (take a piece of wool - stab it into a shape) Gretel's teaching is hugely encouraging. She makes beautiful things in her own instantly recognisable style and demonstrates real generosity of spirit in the way she shares her techniques. I've been to several workshops for all kinds of crafts but this one stands out. I bloody loved it!
Gretal's original is on the left. See how neatly and smoothly it's finished off? See how fuzzy and loose the one on the right is? That's mine.
I would have loved to have stayed longer to finish it off in the class but Himself and Buster B Dogg had been amusing themselves in the little village for 4 hours so I owed it to them to return on time. We stowed B Dogg in the boot and headed for home.
At home I was greeted with a huge bouquet of flowers from Himself's mum which were almost too big to lift.
And I had the luxury of time to finish my tall tower.

Some online shopping was done too, just in case the money I'd received for my birthday went out of date and I'm sure I'll share that since its crafting stash. Don't judge me ;)
Here are more of Gretal's houses from the Christmas 2015 edition of Mollie Makes.