Tuesday, 28 February 2017

A cloud, a strawberry and no Cheshire cat

A follow up to my recent Something New post...
A Cloud

I cut out a cloud shape on paper and used a wipe off fabric marker pen to put the outline on the fabric. I didn't want to draw round it, so instead I used strokes of the pen so it would be an interrupted outline - I don't know if I'm explaining that well so here's a pic to show you what the paper cut out looked like afterwards!

I did the first outline in a mid-light blue embroidery cotton and when it was done it looked to me like the piece needed something more. Not the same kind of colour, but I felt the outline needed to be chunkier. I chose a lighter blue, made the stitches a little longer while keeping them irregular like the first row. Pretty pleased with the result.

While making this I had an idea for a couple more cloud based negative space sewing projects

💙 Use of a dark grey rather than blue, make it a single row with longer stitches, and along the bottom of the cloud either embroider or add blue bead raindrops.

💙 Outline most of the cloud with blue but in the rop right 'corner' use a warm yellow to indicate the sun.

Will I be doing either of these soon? Nope. Think I might have to create another jar for ideas I've had a go at that I want to explore further!

A Strawberry

I wanted to try something new with the same essential idea so I did irregular red stitches that weren't closely packed, while using a chunkier green design for the leaves. When it was done, I felt that it needed something else so stitched the gold 'seeds' into the space.

Other ideas spawned by this?

🍓 A pineapple, perhaps with a faint criss-cross pattern in the negative space
🍓 A cactus with hot pink fruit, with needles somehow shown in the blank area

No Cheshire Cat
Let's be honest, I'm part crazy cat lady so of course this was the idea I was most looking forward to trying and it was the one I could not get right. I expected it to be a bit more complicated as I was going to use different colours to represent the stripes of the fur but whether it was the shape I'd decided to use for the cat head or the way I combined the colours, it just didn't work. It's something I'd like to try again but not with such an iconic character where there's so much to compare it to.

This project wasn't a complete failure though as it gave me ideas for other things to try:
😼 Embroidering around letters or words
😼 Cutting out a distinctive shape from a book or a magazine and using that for the negative space

My final verdict on negative space sewing?

I really enjoyed it. I've picked up a new crafting skill and busted some stash, and I got to play with colours which is always a plus for me.

The one small negaive of the experience was that it did aggravate my RSI so this isn't a hobby I could take up to the exclusion of all others without a fair amount of discomfort. For an occasional dabble though it would be fine.

If you're reading this and fancy giving it a go you will need:
  • An embroidery hoop. I used a 4 inch one, but there are other sizes out there. Not sure how to use one? Go on YouTube and type in 'how to use an embroidery hoop' and there's guides there like this one
  • Sewing needles. My needles are years old for the most part and acquired from here, there and everywhere so I can't give you the specific size I used. If you have none and need to get some you can either ask in your local craft shop for guidance or, if you're ordering online and won't have that face-to-face option, have a look at guides like this one to help you choose what you need. 
  • Fabric for sewing on. You could use linen, cotton or cross stitch fabric but whatever you pick make sure it does not have much stretch to it. A jersey would be very difficult to work with for this kind of thing for example. Never embroidered in your life and don't want to invest money in a large piece of fabric? Do you have any old clothes waiting to go out to charity that are made of non-stretch fabrics that you could use pieces of? Old bedding? Old tea towels? If you have patterned fabric it would help you build up confidence in your sewing by enabling you to trace/fill in shapes already there. 
  • Embroidery threads/ stranded Cotton - if you're doing this on a budget, you can go to places like Poundland and get a pack of stranded cottons. I think places like Wilkinsons also sell them. You won't get the shine that you would with more expensive ones like Anchor or DMC but you could still make a colourful display. 
  • A wipe of fabric marker like the one listed above is not essential but I'd recommend it if you have the spare pennies. 
  • An idea of what shapes you want to use. Not that good at drawing? Go on the internet or get a magazine, find a photo/drawing of what you want and use that.

Monday, 27 February 2017

February Photos

Took so many of this tree and this was the only one I liked, I think 
because of the perspective of looking up

Nom nom nom nom nom . . . 

Lots of reds and pinks in bloom I love taking pictures of 
these colours

I want to make the time to get some photographs after rain
next month. Think I will be able to get some lovely shots.

Mandarin ducks are just so elegant, they look carved 
rather than born.

You haz nuts?

More pinks . . .

Some arty-farty black and white. Don't know if it works 
that well but I didn't think colour did the swan justice.
More messing about with different effects

Using different effects on the computer, this looks more like an 
insect to me than a plant now

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Bullet Journals: The Weekly Spread

Ah, the weekly spread! Or the weekly log depending on your preference. So many ideas out there. And why stick to just one? Unless, of course, you have one that works perfectly and you have no need to change it.

Some, like tinyrayofsunshine's, are deliciously minimalist. Others are buoyantly busy. Some track everything from shopping lists to sleeping patterns. Some focus on the daily task list. In short, there's a lot of choice out there and more than a couple of blogs posts on weekly spread ideas.

I change mine often, mainly because I'm still new to using a bullet journal and there are so many formats to try I don't feel the need to limit myself to just the one. I can't actually see me ever settling down and committing to a monogomous relationship with a single lay-out. New ideas pop up on Pinterest and Instagram all the time and I enjoy trying new things to see if the ideas that work for someone else will help me streamline my life that little bit more.

I have three colouring books, one I bought, the others were given as gifts. I have completed maybe 5 pages in total and at the rate of completion (about 2.5 pages in a year) those colouring books seemed doomed to sit about, beautiful but unused. BuJo to the rescue! I've taken to cutting out panels and pieces from the colouring books and adding to my weekly spreads as an excuse for me to do some relaxing colouring without having the pressue of an entire book to complete.

I've also set aside space for doodles in a weekly log and have a stash of different doodling ideas saved on my Pinterest board for mini projects.

What new things am I going to be using for my March spreads?

From @scarboroughplanner on Instagram

In my first bullet journal post I mentioned habit trackers. I liked the idea but was doubtful I would use them regularly. This prediction has come to pass (see first pic in this post). I started with a monthly tracker, then used a weekly tracker format but though I would start a week and diligently complete the boxes by the end of the seven days I was off track. The reason? Much as I would love to read every day, write every day, eat my recommended fruit and veggies, do housework . . . the truth is that I just don't have time. Or, rather, I choose to give my time to other things. If my day at work has been very busy, I'm unlikely to have the energy or the motivation to do much when I get home. Other nights, I might have an idea for a crafty thing I want to try which then gobbles up the time available. I'm relatively busy on weekends and days off so while the sun might rise on a day seemingly packed with hours a lot of those hours are spoken for. I would like to feel like I'm achieving something each day though - how to do it without feeling the monotonous pressure of the habit tracker? Bingo could be the answer.

As you can see, I'm not talking about the legs eleven style bingo. I'm planning on using a simple grid system attached to each day of the week, and will aim to fill it from a list of options (like reading, writing, 5-a-day etc). You can see from the pic above that some people have a reward system in place - not sure if I'll adopt that or not. I'm hoping this will be a more dynamic way of encouraging good habits.

From @showmeyourplanner on Instagram

I'd also like to incorporate a meal planner for the week in my spread. Do a search under 'meal planner bullet journal' on Google or Pinterest and you'll see some very hefty lay-outs. I like the one above as all I really need is a place to note the main meal of the day.

I've set up a couple of weeks with the new ideas so will see how they work out.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Reading Challenge: A Book with a Subtitle

I would recommend this book to anyone who has cats and who, in their heart of hearts, realises they have something of the mad cat lady about them. The story is about Caroline Paul’s quest to discover what happened to her cat during the weeks he was missing. Injured from a flying accident and fighting off depression, when Caroline's cat Tibia went missing it was a cause of additional panic and stress. Her partner Wendy supported her as best she could but it looked like the worst might have happened. Five weeks after he disappeared he returned as if nothing had happened and this is where the book really takes off.
Tibby the tentative tabby who had a far from adventurous
soul prior to his disappearance and return

The delight at Tibby’s return is soon overshadowed by a need to know where he has been and why he stayed away from home for so long when Caroline regularly sniffled her way around the neighbourhood calling his name and offering treats. As he no longer appears to be eating regular meals at home, it is also clear that someone else is feeding him in the vicinity - i.e. a Cat Thief. Caroline uses GPS, a psychic, a collar camera and an animal communication class amongst other things in her (sometimes borderline deranged) quest for answers. There are illustrations of the neighbourhood, of footage from the kitty cam and confused scrawly maps of hot pink GPS scribble. 

Feedback from the GPS tracker was not as
illuminating as Caroline had hoped it would be

There is also a fair amount of denial from Caroline. Mad cat lady that she is, she seems to be unable to grasp the underlying fundamental aspect of cat nature: namely that they are arseholes for quite a large proportion of their lives. I have two cats and I love them. I adore them. I don’t use babytalk with them but I do sometimes have a conversation with them, using distinct voices for their responses. They look at me with utter feline contempt – i.e. their standard expression. I fully recognise and accept that they are selfish little beasts whose windows of affection are dictated more by a need to leech me of warmth, to be fed by me, to be worshipped by me than they are a sign of genuine reciprocal tenderness. Does this stop me adoring them? Not one bit. 

Lost Cat is an entertaining book, peppered with amusing illustrations. It could also be seen a cautionary tale (in the most light-hearted way) of what having money in the bank and time on your hands can do in the way of encouraging obsession. Does Caroline get her answers? Is the cat thief identified and stopped? Where did Tibby spend those five weeks?

To find out the answers, you will have to read the book yourself. Preferably with a cat on your lap. 

8 out of 10 lost cats

Are you undertaking the #popsugarreadingchallenge?

Tempted by this book, but already have your book with a subtitle covered? These are other categories in the Reading Challenge this book could apply to:

A book with a cat on the cover
A book by an author from a country you've never visited (if you've never been to America)
A book with pictures

Other books I'd recommend for a book with a subtitle:

Rain: Four Walks in English Weather - Melissa Harrison
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things - Jenny Lawson

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Something New: Negative Space Sewing

I started writing a blog post lamenting the lack of time in my life to try new things. I wrote about how my Pinterest boards were groaning; how work always got in the way; how frustrated I was that I didn't get the opportunity to sit down and do anything creative for the sake of it.

Then I got a grip and realised that rather than whine about it I could actually designate a chunk of inviolable time to do something new with. No ifs, no buts, no excuses. Tell my inner critic to sod off, that any housework not done can wait, that any 'should' tasks on the list would be there within half an hour and no worse off for it.

To sidestep the chance that I would then end up with creative block because of how much I had to choose from I decided to let random fate take over. I compiled a list, set each item down on scrap of paper, folded them up and put them in a big glass jar. When the list had reached over 70 items I stopped adding to it . . . see, I wasn't kidding when I said there was lots of stuff I wanted to try!

I rifled through the jar of opportunities with excitement. What would I end up picking first?

Taken from Here's a blog post on the subject.

The answer - negative space sewing. At least, this is what I've seen it referred to. It's a little hard to know what exactly to call it but essentially it's when you sew/embellish around the outline of something rather than filling in the inside. 

I sat down and brainstormed what I'd like to do with this and came up with three ideas:

💙 A cloud
💙 A strawberry
💙 The Cheshire Cat's head
Below are other images gleaned from the interwebs where people have used the same kind of theme and done different things with it.

From Pinterest - have lots of leftover sequins from a project? This
could be a way of using them up and making something decorative
at the same time.

From Jennie Sandford - and a wee bit above my ability level at present!

An Alice in Wonderland find on Pinterest. Nicely ties in with my
Cheshire Cat idea :)

Will post about my experiences with negative space sewing later in the week. 

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Harry Potter and Bullet Journaling

Harry Potter fans are everywhere. How could they not be, when the books and the film franchise have been such a massive hit? There are some bullet journalers out there who have incorporated their love for Hogwarts et al into their bujos.

They use HP-themed drawings to chart progress.

From here

They style the front pages of new months with HP artwork.

From Pinterest

They pay homage to their favourite lines from their favourite characters.

From here - from a Wreck This Journal rather than a bullet journal
but it's within the journal family so I'm happy to include it. Plus, this
quote gets me right in the feels.

They set goals using imagery from the films.

From Instagram

For those who love to devote a page or two to a memorable quote, Rowling has plenty to offer.

From Instagram

Considering how many bullet journalers appear to be rabid washi tape addicts, I imagine items like this masking tape are immensely popular with that crowd too.

From Etsy

There are free Harry Potter printables for planners, and I am sure these have been adapted by bujo users.

I have no other statement to make - just fancied a gratuitous post combining two of my interests! 😉

Monday, 13 February 2017

Jewellery and the Minimalist Wardrobe

It's nice when you have a personal 'Eureka!' moment. I've posted before about the perfect wardrobe but I've not mentioned how jewellery fits in with this. The reason for that is I've only just come up with an answer on the subject!

Just as there are lists on the internet for what the perfect minimalist/ capsule wardrobe should contain, there are also posts about the jewellery essentials for the minimalist wardrobe and creating your capsule jewellery box. There are lists on what the jewellery collection of a minimalist should be. As with any advisory list aimed at many there will be few that it fits to perfection. 

My experience with these kind of posts is the same – I find the lists limiting and not reflective of my own personal taste. To me the the jewellery suggested is just a little too, well, grown up. What do I mean by that? Essentially, I mean the suggestions lack colour. The items they suggest are limited mainly to classic gold or silver. If your minimalist wardrobe relies on neutrals with three colours to pep it up then the jewellery advised might include something that compliments one of those three colours like a gem pendant or earrings.

A lot of my work clothes are black - I don't wear scarves much
so these beads add that little bit of fun and colour to an
otherwiseplain outfit.

What if you really like colour? What if you keep your wardrobe low on items but don't keep to any 'rules' on shades/ patterns etc? Yes, gold and silver will always work because they pretty much go with anything but if you aren't fussed about having a traditional look then they can also be boring. On the flip side, I didn’t want a different item of jewellery for each shade in my wardrobe. I thought the conundrum was unsolvable and had resigned myself to never being entirely happy with the amount of jewellery I owned. Then I visited a bead shop on an industrial estate and that changed. This shop sold European style charm bracelets, beads and charms. For a £14 outlay, I got a bracelet, a pack of 100 mixed beads and a few spacers.

In the past couple of weeks, it has become apparent that this is what I have been looking for: a versatile item of jewellery I can change each day to reflect the colours I am wearing, or inject colour if I am wearing neutrals. The space required to store the bracelet and beads is minimal. I enjoy the ritual of removing my beads at night and picking the new ones for the morning. I love playing with the colours and patterns. The potential for hundreds of combinations means this one bracelet will always feel fresh. I have finally been able to go through my existing jewellery and cut it down to a mere handful of rings, earrings and a single necklace that all have sentimental value. The rest are earmarked for Ebay/ charity shops.

You can have as many beads as you like. Pack the bracelet from tip to tail
or pick a handful to work with that day.

So, if you like to keep your wardrobe limited and want an item of jewellery you can adapt to whatever you are wearing that day, this is the jewellery I would recommend for you!

If you're someone who likes whatever you purchases to be in the expensive range, invest in items from Trollbeads, Chamilia or Pandora. If, like me, you think that £40 is a hefty amount to pay for a tiny bead then there are plenty of beads out there for less money. Have a look on Ebay under murano lampwork charm beads and you'll see what I mean. They may not be as high quality but they will do the job. It would freak me out to have £300+ worth of beads on my wrist so the lower spec suits me. If you're a minimalist with friends and family who struggle with the 'no gift' rule at Christmas and birthdays, having a bracelet like this could be a way of striking a compromise. You could ask people for beads or charms, they would feel they are now able to get you something special, and the space the gifts would take up in your minimalist life is tiny.

There are some great beads out there - all the above I
found recently on Ebay and would give a bit of character.

Like to get every ounce of mileage out of what you own? Consider making a display from your beads by using them as decoration when you aren't wearing them. It would be an easy way of giving a simple room a splash of colour and the beads would then giving the beads a dual purpose of useful/ beautiful decoration. This isn’t something I’m planning to try due to owning cats who have no respect for property. Especially, in Moneypenny’s case, sparkly property – she was quite the magpie in kittenhood though that has faded in her adult years. 

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Reading Challenge: A Bestseller from 2016

The Girl of Ink & Stars is set on the island of Joya, a place that once upon a time (according to local myth) was free to wander the seas until a fire demon tethered it and prepared to take it over. Arinta, a girl of the island, gave her life to prevent this from happening.

Skip forward several generations and the island is under the dictatorship of Governor Adori, the songbirds have long since fled the island and been replaced by ravens, and swimming in the sea is forbidden. Isabella and her father the mapmaker live poor lives, like the rest of their neighbours, stifled under the tyranny of their self-proclaimed master. Her life is somewhat complicated by the fact that the daughter of the Governor, Lupe, is her best friend. The fabric of Isabella's life is made up of the stories she has learned, the lines of her father's maps and the simmering tensions around her.

A local girl goes missing and is found not so much murdered as butchered. Lupe's lack of comprehension causes Isabella to lash out verbally at her and the Governor's daughter heads off into the Forbidden part of the island to track down the murderers and prove she is not as rotten as her family. There is an uprising in the island and while Isabella's father languishes in the dedalo she sets off to rescue her friend. On her journey, it becomes clear to Isabella that strange forces are at work on the island and the myth of Arinta and the fire demon may have more fact that fiction about it.

It's difficult to say much more about the story without giving things away. The tibicenas are a horrid creation, monstrous creatures that have a visceral effect on those they encounter. The description on what happens to the animals near the start of the book is also unpleasant - there are hard hitting images in this book. The author builds the feeling of an island in peril as the story progresses and just as Arinta had to make a sacrifice for the sake of the isle and its people so too do those who would save their home.

Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Isabella is a strong central character. The loss of her mother and beloved brother have shaped her without warping her. She has ambitions and dreams and feels a strong duty to her father and Joya. When Lupe heads out into danger she feels terribly guilty and rescuing her friend and keeping her safe is a driving motivation for Isabella. 

The prose is descriptive, and at times the description is not comfortable. I don't suffer from claustrophobia but some of the passages towards the end regarding the underground tunnels that are travelled through made me very uneasy to the point I wanted to skip ahead to the next section. The one thing that irritated me about the book was how many of the chapters seemed to end on a cliffhanger sentence. I don't think the story needed it quite so much as it was used. 

8 out of 10 bottles of ink

Are you undertaking the #popsugarreadingchallenge?
Tempted by this book, but already have your bestseller from 2016 covered? These are other categories in the Reading Challenge this book could apply to:

A bestseller from a genre you don't normally read
A book involving travel

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Bullet Journal Inspiration

This far in to my bullet journal experience (23 days) I'm finding it quite a useful learning experience.

I've learned that I need to refine my to do lists. I have a habit of creating ENORMOUS lists that I am very unlikely to have the time to get done in a day. A lot of the things I write down don't even need to be done then and there. This isn't helpful when I sit down at night and feel a bit overwhelmed/ disappointed by all those things I haven't got done, look to move them on to other days and realise I won't have time to do them then either!

From Christina77star on Instagram

Answer? Brain Dump pages in the journal. When I realise I have something to do, it doesn't need to be done urgently but I don't want to forget it - onto a brain dump page it goes. Too early to tell if this will streamline my to do list but it will definitely make them less cluttered. So, when I think of a craft idea that I'd like to try, that goes on the page marked 'craft'. When I have a genius idea for a gift to buy/ make for someone, onto the 'birthday' spread it goes. I'm afraid I seem to have far too many notes to dump from my brain to fit them all neatly on one page as the example above shows.

From Sublime Reflection

I started off not liking the weekly spread idea because of how limited the space was and now enjoy using the format for that very reason. To quote one of my favourite YouTube vlogs on Bullet Journals:
it's good if space is limited because you know what else is limited? Your time. 
I limit the number of to dos I give myself, meaning I focus on doing the ones that need to get done and I most want to get done.

From helloiamprince on Instagram

In terms of monthly goals, I'm thinking that a year overview would be useful. Not of everything as that would be so cluttered but of those areas where I am purposely trying to move things along. A visual road map would be very helpful. The pic above comes the closest to what I have in mind.

I'm barely a month in and I'm amazed at the huge range of diverse ideas people have when it comes to bullet journals. I look forward to gathering more ideas/ seeing more amazing ideas as the months go by.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Reading Challenge: A book set in the wilderness

With some books, there are better times of year to read them than others. Revolver, set in a cabin in the North Circle, is a book that you don't have to read in the winter but if you do then you will have that added empathy for the cold setting. 

The story flits backwards and forwards in time. You begin with the first strand of the tale set in 1910. Sig is a teenage boy yearning for a purpose, living with his father, Einar, step-mother and sister, Anna, in a cabin far out of town and separated from the local community. When his father dies, he is left in the cabin with the corpse while the two women go in to town. A malignant visitor comes calling, looking for an old debt to be settled. The narrative then takes a step back to 1899, Nome in Alaska, scene of the Nome Gold Rush. Einar is a desperate man with an ill wife, two small children and no way of supporting them as winter comes in and the veneer of civilisation in the gold rush camp begins to wear thin. He gets himself a Colt revolver 'for when the Faith runs out'. The choices he makes will return to haunt his children. As the tension builds with Sig, at the mercy of the menacing stranger, the story moves between past and present, building to a tense resolution.

Marcus Sedgwick sets the scene well. He quickly builds the picture of the remote cabin, the heavy snow, the biting cold in the air, the keenness of the wind that can steal your breath away. Sig and his family survive out there - the climate means that thriving is something beyond them. The isolation makes Sig's vulnerability all the sharper. The reader's mind, like his, keeps returning to the revolver that is hidden and how he can get to it, tempered with the fear that Wolff, his malevolent guest, is cunning enough to be one step ahead of him. I found it easy to imagine the camp in Nome too; the eerie darkened world where the sun recedes in the face of winter and it is the people around you who are as much of a threat as the weather. 

Marcus Sedgwick

The character of Sig was easy to relate to. Einar not so much for me - what man takes a wife and young children to a gold mining camp? Sig is on the cusp, too old to be considered a boy and not yet experienced enough at standing on his own to be a man. He has lots of questions and no answers at the start of the book. By the end, he comes to know himself a lot more and to understand what he is and isn't capable of under pressure.

I enjoyed the book and found it to be a page turner, one of those you pick up meaning to only read a couple of chapters and then have to keep on going to see what happens. Just at the point where I thought I might be able to set the book aside Sig's sister returns to the cabin alone, giving Wolff that extra bit of leverage.

8 out of 10 cabins

I've done some investigating into Marcus Sedgwick's other books, and will definitely be reading more of his work. That's one of the best things about a reading challenge - the new authors you get to add to your list!

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Random Thoughts on Wrapping Paper

Wrapping Paper. Gift wrap. Whatever you want to call it, the majority of us use it on a regular basis. I recently ran out of birthday wrapping paper and decided that I was going to have a go at something different: personalising plain paper and using it as gift wrap. This will give me an opportunity to practice my doodling skills and make inroads into the rolls of washi tape from The Worksstickers from Paperchase and stamp kits from Tiger that I bought to satisfy my stationery addiction but have not had much actual use for. It might also give me the chance to use some fabric and buttons too.

Need some visuals to get an idea of what I'm talking about? If you insist . . .

This image is from Pinterest

We'll begin with the humble sharpie and some coloured paper. What an effective and pretty way of taking plain brown parcel wrap and turning it into something unique. It's about taking the time not only to source a gift but to make the covering for that gift something to be enjoyed too rather than just torn open and thrown away (or hopefully put in the recycling).

Want the opportunity to get the paints out and use those goggly stick on eyes you bought ages ago but never had the need to use? Why not try to make a batch of penguin paper courtesy of this tutorial from Mum in the Madhouse. This could be a great pre-crimbo activity when you know you are likely to need lots of seasonal wrap and can devote an hour or so to making up your Christmas wrapping paper. Can't bear to even think of next Christmas yet but have plenty of birthdays heading your way?Adapt the pattern, try something else. Do you have lots of interestingly shaped cookie cutters? Get inspiration from this idea to incorporate use those shapes into your gift wrap decoration.

Not bothered about decorating plain paper but do want to make a feature of how you're tying your present? Pop over to Mollie Makes for ideas on using pompoms. It would be a great way of using leftover yarn - more stash busting! Awesome! Don't have much in the way of wool but do have lots of leftover paper from scrapbooking and decoupage? How about this string of bunting idea

I was going to use the example from Pinterest above from as something you could make for a child's gift wrap but actually I can name a few adults who'd find this sort of thing fun too. You wouldn't need to be an advanced artist to be able to do this kind of thing. It just requires a little more time.

Decorating gift wrap could be a great way of involving children in giving gifts that you've bought on their behalf. By embellishing the wrapping paper, they are showing they have taken time to give something beautiful and thoughtful to someone. Not all children would want to bother with this I know but I can think of lots of friends of mine who have very creative kids who would love the excuse opportunity to throw glitter, stickers and other craft materials at something.

Below is my first attempt at gift wrap doodling. The cat and ball of wool came from Katie Can Draw. Think your drawing skills are crap? These kitties are so simple to do I bet you can succeed with them. And there's plenty more where they come from if you search 'easy doodles' on Pinterest or Google Images.

The card is home made too, with a stamp moustache and a fabric bow tie

I thought decorating gift wrap was something I'd be able to cover in one post but actually I think I've only begun to explore this creative new topic. This post is destined to have a sequel - one I will very much enjoy researching 😀

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

January photos

This is the underside of a mushroom in a local park. The top of it was grey and it was huge
for a mushroom, surrounded by a batch of  equally large, grey, strong-smelling neighbours.
A wood blewit perhaps?

A photo played about with after uploading. I was trying to find a way to make
the green stand out a bit without going too lurid

Another 'post-production' experiment. 

While the photo was in full colour, I couldn't get the effect I wanted
to with this photo, hence opting for black and white to make the
shadows crisper.

While this photo is blurred, I loved the colours too much not to play
around with it and crop it to zero in on those colours. Photo then enhanced
to really bring out the brightness, the gold and the pinky-reds.

Frost always gives an opportunity for some fascinating pics. I had gone
out on an errand the day I took these and the photo below and had to go
home and get my camera to retrace my steps as I'd seen so much I wanted
to capture. The snail shell above was empty, for those concerned that a very
cold snail might have been suffering in there.

I took lots of pictures of this plant. Can't recall now if it was ivy or
rosemary, and these gnarly branches were bristling with ice crystal
quills. Fascinating to see how the ice had grown almost like a kind
of sharp-lined fungus.

Old seed heads crusted with gleaming frost. Beautiful.

I was tempted to play about with this to see what I could make of
it but then decided that I liked the shot just as it was with the sunlight
falling that way and the contrast of warm and cold colours.

A lot of my macro shots from the frost day did not pay off but I
liked this one and was pleased with the blurring of the thorns
I could get in the background.

Down by a pond, the layer of pitted ice on a puddle where the water
had receeded. This also worked as a black and white shot but chose
to share this one.

Not a very good photo per se but I loved the way the ice formed in cubes
on the bristles of this plant.

Coiling ferns, dusted with white and glittering in the morning sun.