Friday, 19 January 2018

Mail Love: Week One

12th January
Philatelink order! It arrived as I was walking out the door to go to work, along with a letter. That moment when you want to stay at home and go through your mail but you know that to do so would mean getting to the office late . . . completely worthwhile in terms of personal affirmation but not in terms of generating good vibes in the workplace.
The letter provoked envy/ admiration for this very cute little ink stamp on the front.
13th January
I'd like to up my game a bit when it comes to my mail - by that I mean I want to put more thought in to what I send out, and take the opportunity to try some of the many, many, many projects I have pinned on Pinterest. With this in mind, I've made up a little batch of stickers parcelled up in neat little teabag packages. 
The 'how to' for the teabags comes from the Post Fabriek blog which has some lovely snailmail piccies/ ideas on it and is worth a look if you are in to your letters.
14th January
Writing letters in different locations is something I would like to do more of in 2018. The majority tend to be scribbled while I am sat out in the garden or curled up in bed with at least one cat in residence. The letter written this morning was done while staying with family, accompanied by the lovely sound of a tawny owl
15th January
First time I've ever felt the true weight of Blue Monday - coming home to find 2 letters waiting for me perked me up on this miserable day. How beautiful are these stamps? While taking pictures of them I discovered by accident that there are in-built filters in my camera so yay to that too.
16th January
It's lovely to get a letter which makes you laugh within seconds of opening it. This sticker achieved just that. 
17th January
Some home made envelopes are just too beautiful to plaster with stamps of varying prices. Every now and then, I do use a standard stamp all on its own.
18th January
Getting any kind of envelope in the post is fun but there is an extra bit of excitement when the envelope is a homemade one, like this one received from the Holland. 

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Free Fold & Mail stationery!

My love of fold & mail stationery is well documented. Recently, I discovered to my delight that Pinterest is full of FREE templates! Yay! Fold & mail stationery isn't that easy to find in the shops. The majority of my purchases have been made online, and the rarer sets are pretty pricey. These online templates are a good option for people who want to send this kind of snailmail but don't want to shell out for a whole pad.
Found here - there's a whole range of cute bird themed fold and mail in this style.
Fancy an envelope with a fox reading in bed, a bear, lemurs, pugs or a zebra? There is printable stationery out there for you.
Found here - one for the EPP enthusiasts!
Want something with more of a pop culture reference? Spongebob Squarepants perhaps? Maybe Doctor Who, Star Wars or Alice in Wonderland are your preferences? No problem.
Found here - a bit of man in the moon action.
If you prefer a simpler floral print then there's options out there as well. I've pinned a load on my Snailmail board on Pinterest if you care to peruse for further ideas.
Found here - a touch of vintage to jazz up your snailmail
If I'm honest, what I really want to work out is how to make up my own templates so I can share some random fold and mail goodness with the snailmail community out there. Watch this space!

Sunday, 31 December 2017

2017: The Year Of . . .

Anyone else look back over the previous year as the new year beckons and think about what stood out? I do. Here's a few of the things that are worth remembering for me from 2017, and moving forward with in 2018. All pictures on this post taken from my instagram account, @freddievonfred.
Oh yeah! A couple of months on, it's still a bit of a 'pinch me' feeling that I can actually drive on the roads on my own. I have a list of places I want to go in the upcoming months for a variety of reasons - to see friends and family, to take photographs, to eat nice food - and having the ability to get to the more out of the way places is such a treat. 
Bullet Journals
I discovered bullet journaling in January this year and was STUNNED that no-one had mentioned it to me before. There have been some months where I've been a bit lax but whenever I've needed to make notes on projects or activities or goals they've all ended up in my bujo. I love this planning system so much that I ran a free workshop on it for the Cake & Revolution WI last summer and am running another one in January. When I get addicted to something, I want to share the love . . . 
A Return to Snailmail
Through my peregrinations on Pinterest, I realised how much lovely mail art there is out there. Not only that, but I also gleaned the fact that penpalling was something you could totally do as an adult! I had just assumed it was a fad from childhood, missed but impossible to recreate in the world of grown ups. Not so! I have embraced snailmail with gusto, nurtured an addiction to fold & mail stationery and connected with people across the world courtesy of the League of Extraordinary Penpals
Lino Cut printing & Watercolour
I took advantage of a free printing course in my local area at the start of the year and learned the basics of a couple of types of printing, of which lino cutting stuck. I definitely want to get more practice in during 2018, and the same goes for watercolour. I don't think I will ever be the kind of person who creates great big grand pieces so for me the emphasis will be working on small scale projects.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Photos from Wolves Wood RSPB

Today, I took a trip with a friend to Wolves Wood RSPB reserve. It's a very simple place - aside from a car park there is nothing but the wood itself. Dogs are not allowed and if you feel the call of nature you need to find a tree to discreetly squat behind. Liz and I arrived mid-morning with our cameras and had the place entirely to ourselves throughout our visit.
Lots of low sun through bare trunks and branches
Wolves Wood is managed with the traditional method of coppicing. This allows plenty of light into the area, which was even more noticeable on a winter's day like today than spring or summer when the multitude of trees would be full of leaves. In places, tall, pale spindly trees jostled together, and in the wind the branches clack against each other as they moved back and forth.
Lots of autumnal colour still in evidence
There were birds about but they were happy to keep their distance so no good photos to be had of feathered residents. Apparently you can see deer in the area if you are lucky - we weren't lucky, but I suspect with all the squelching of our muddy boots and our occasional chat that we would have spooked any such animals anyway. Owing to all the rain yesterday, the paths were pretty muddy so we were glad to have worn practical footwear and, in my case, old jeans.
For those who like their funghi there was a variety to be seen
I saw this cocoon nestled against a tree trunk -
fascinating to me as it looks more like a seashell
Ever wondered what a rotting rose head looks like on a
damp December day? Wonder no more.
Most of the leaves had abandoned their trees but a few hung on
 by threads here and there in the more sheltered areas
While we didn't see any animals there was evidence of their presence
all over the place from prints in the mud to littered remnants of acorns
Lamellae. Gills. Call them what you will, the underside of mushrooms
are one of the most satisfying things to photograph because of their
luscious texture
I've not seen funghi like this before. Having asked a friend of mine
who is far more in the know on such subjects, looks like this could
be yellow brain. The colour was a far more orangey yellow in real
life but I couldn't capture the hue accurately on camera.
Arty photo

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Hortense and the Shadow

Genre/ setting: Fairy tale; children's books

The story:
Hortense is kind and brave and lives in a house that can be found through the dark and wolfish woods. The only thing wrong with her life is her shadow, which she hates. She is aware of it always, how it changes shape and follows her every move. When she finally finds a way to free herself from this burden, what could possibly make her want to take it back again?
This is a lovely fairy tale, a book picked up on a whim from the library with delightful illustrations, a lively heroine and a classic winter setting. Ideal for reading at this time of year.

This is the first book by sisters Natalia and Lauren O'Hara, and I hope they go on to publish many more. I have a list of authors I check up on every 6 months or so to see if they have any impending new books, and I have added the O'Hara sisters to that list. If you'd like to see more of their artwork you can check out their Instagram account, @oharasisters, which has lots of lovely piccies to browse through. There are even occasional photos of their cat Ida, who looks very satisfying fluffy.
Memorable line/ image:
Wind flew through the woods like a pack of wild dogs.
How evocative is that? Lovely.

Would I read this book again?:
Yes. I re-read it immediately after finishing it actually, and will read it again before I return it to the library.

9 out of 10 shadows

Saturday, 23 December 2017

A book recommended by a family member

Pick & Mix Reading Challenge: Book #5
Taken from: Popsugar Reading Challenge 2016
Challenge: A book recommended by a family member

Genre/ setting etc: 
Graphic novel - urban fantasy/ horror

The story:
I put out a request on Facebook for family members to recommend a book, and this is the result. Not technically this exact book, but a cousin did say the Dresden File books were worth a look, and when I went to the library this was the one I found. 

Harry Dresden is a wizard for hire. 
We first see Harry doing battle with an interesting sea beastie. While he is capable of taking care of himself, it isn't exactly a walk in the park, so our hero is established as being game to take anything on while also not potentially having the ability to handle it smoothly. In Ghoul Goblin, he's hired to protect a family whose members are being picked off one by one by a curse. An ancestor offended some nasty types decades ago and the curse has filtered down the generations. 

A ghoul and a goblin are targetting the family and Harry sets about finding out why, and if anything can be done about it. There's a lot of detail that is missed in this book owing to the fact it is a graphic novel rather than pages of text, and I think a standard novel would have given a lot more grounding for the mythological elements of the book, but even so the story ticks along at a good rate, keeping the reader entertained and wanting to read more.

The story isn't just about unfriendly magical creatures - there's a fair amount of small town politics involved too, of which Harry falls foul. Is he able to save the remnants of the family or is the curse just too much for him to neutralise? No spoilers - pick up a copy yourself and see.

Would I read this book again?: 

Probably not but I would pick up other novels/ graphic novels in the series on the strength of this.

What I liked:
Pres having his Commando moment towards the end of the book. Very entertaining.
What I didn’t like:
HOW did Harry not guess who the ghoul was the moment he saw her? It was obvious who it was. I'm never that keen when I as a reader get something before the main protagonist. It feels like a bit of a cheat to me and undermines the strength of the aforementioned protagonist.

Easy to read?:

Read if you like:
Graphic novels with a horror/ urban fantasy twist. Ghouls, goblins and other beasties galore.

7 out of 10 Dresdens