Busy, busy being creative..!

Friday 20 March 2015

Cut Back to Re Grow

All around where I live I’m seeing hedges cut right back, almost to their roots.

Some looks so severely cut back that I fear they may never grow back again.

But wait. What’s that?

A tiny shoot is starting to grow on what looks like a dead twig. The Hedge is coming back to life. 

It’s in a different shape to how it looked before. More compact, less gangling and out of control.  

Noticing this got me thinking about what things I need to cut back or let go of in order to re-grow.

Re-grow as a stronger version of myself. Discarding the bits that no longer sustain or nourish me. Just like those long twigs or branches that have done their thing and have since died back. Actually leaving them there without cutting back can have a detrimental effect on that plant or tree. As it keeps putting so much energy out to all the different branches they can end up being weaker than if those are removed so it can focus on growing in a more strong and focused way. (hmm sounds like me having too many projects on the go – my energy is scattered! Has very much felt like that this month so far to be honest.)

Today is the Spring Equinox and there will be an eclipse and a Super moon. All things which when converge make for a powerful time to consider the things you committed to at the beginning of the year, what you want to recommit to now – and what you want to cut back and let go of.

This applies to thoughts and beliefs that no longer help you just as it does to physical things.

So why not consider the Cut back hedge today and step into spring ready for those new shoots to emerge?

Nature is a sign post to me and when I am in need of some help with a challenge I’ll often take myself off for a walk to search for clues. I’ll notice what I notice and see what that brings to mind. Just as the hedge reminded me of cutting back to re grow. Answers are all around us if we take the time to look. On the 04 April the next Connect to Nature: Connect to Self online coached course starts. Maybe today is the day you decide to commit to this creative adventure and see how nature can be a sign post for you too?

Thursday 19 March 2015

Postcards from a Pilgrim

Your Postcard from a Pilgrim (me) might look something like this!
This summer, as you may know I’m going on a bit of an adventure following roughly in the footsteps of the 5th century Saint Morwenna. A journey of some 177 miles. I’ll be cycling, boating and walking aiming to arrive in Morwenstow on the 5th July. St. Morwenna’s Feast Day. You can read about the full journey HERE.

On this Creative Adventure, I will be creating a daily artwork inspired by something I see, hear or feel. I'm expecting the trip to take 21 days - so there will be 21 art postcards. Each unique and capturing a moment on that particular day. So I am the pilgrim!

Would YOU like to be one of the lucky 21 to be sent one of these special artwork postcards? 

You can by being a Postcard from a Pilgrim sponsor. These unique mini artworks which I will create each day of my journey are £10 each plus £1.50 to cover the postage and paypal fees. 

The postcards will be sent out in order of when they were 'sponsored' so the first person to sponsor one would be the first to get a card. I’m not going to share which day you've sponsored so it will be a surprise as to when you’ll receive it!

Each card will be created and posted on the same day to anywhere in the world. 
All being well! ;-)

Just like the example shown - there might be words too. Either the sounds of the place, words that come to mind as I create or snippets of conversation I over hear. I won’t know how it’s going to look until I’m creating it so each will be completely unique and will capture a moment during the trip from Brecon to Morwenstow.

If you’d like to be one of the lucky 21 people to have a special miniature artwork created and sent to you during this Creative Adventure – please sponsor one below!

You can choose to have the Artwork sent to yourself or a friend anywhere in the world – please be clear in the notes section and please make sure I have the complete address. 

+ £1.50 to cover fees & postage. Thank you x

ALL SOLD! Thank you! I'll be adding photos of the Postcards from A Pilgrim to my site once I've downloaded all my photos form this epic adventure!
The postcards will be strong watercolour card and the materials used could vary from watercolour, pencil, ink to pen. Your postcard will be sent as a Postcard so it will get franked by the post office and will go on it's own journey to reach you!  The image shown is just an example and to give you an inkling of what kind of thing might end up in your letterbox! 

Sunday 15 March 2015

The Making of Mr. Moon

FINALLY I am getting around to writing about the Moon we made! 

Me & Mr CA on the Moon!
Here we go....only a few months later than planned!

I love the 1930s as you may already know and when I was thinking about how I’d like to celebrate turning 40 I decided to host a 1930s Speakeasy party. 

This also so happens to be no. 27 on my 40/40 project list

I set about doing some research and one of the things that came up was the Paper Moon that folks would have their photos taken sitting on. The original photo booth! I liked this idea A LOT and was inspired by some I'd seen online. Oh Yes an idea was forming in my head…

'Let’s make one for the Party!'

An original paper moon from the 20s

I’d need some help with this so suggested this idea to Mr CA and showed him some examples.

'Why not,' he said. 'Let’s make one'.. HURRAH! 

This had me jumping about with excitement and clapping my hands together like an excited dolphin. I do that you know when I get excited. I clap my hands together. Anyone else do this too?

So that’s what we did.

Sketching out how the face might look to work out the scale

We worked out how big we wanted to make it and how much wood we would need. Mr CA was able to get one sheet of Plywood that we could cut it out of in one piece – if we angled the design just so. 

The frame came from the old chicken run we had in the garden. Since we didn't have any plans to have any more chickens any time soon – the wood was re-used. 

Cutting out the moon
After a few days of measuring and cutting Mr.Moon was starting to take shape. It was fab seeing it develop!

Testing for size and strength! Yep is OK!
The final stages came then to paint on the face. I looked at a range of different designs on Pinterest for inspiration and then penciled in his features. We wanted him to look more friendly than scary!! Some of the Mr.Moons or Paper Moons as they were called were down right freaky!! I for one didn't want to give my party guests nightmares!

Mr. Moon was finally finished right on the morning of the party. Even though I’d tried to plan for this not to happen it did! I’m so grateful friends who helped with the screen and attached the stars to get it finished –‘just in time’ and it worked a treat! Thank you!

Yep that's me on the moon with the amazing dancers from the Flaming Feathers
It was a lot of fun!

What to do with Mr.Moon now?

He is currently taking up a corner of our lounge and I did consider renting him out for parties and events but after some more thought about the logistics have decided that Mr.Moon is for sale. 

Would you like your own Mr.Moon for a party or Wedding?

This means I can put monies from his sale back into the 40/40 project as I’m discovering that I have expensive ideas and some of the things on my desired project list are not cheap…! 

If you’d like to buy him he is up for sale on Ebay. You will need a van to collect him though as he is pretty big!!

Mr. Moon Measures 
Height 2.2m
Length 2.1m
Seating area & width 0.94m x 0.52m

The moon and the seat were made using 12mm plywood and exterior grade pine for the frame. It is VERY sturdy!

Tuesday 10 March 2015

The 40/40 Project. No.10 Appear on Dr. Who. (Part 2)

Today was the official, in person, registration day at the casting agency I've joined in a bid to be on Dr.Who. 

I was nervous

I changed my outfit twice before I left the house and I considered if I should have redyed my hair brown, rather than leaving it its current Mermaid green/blue...I left it as it was. I hadn't expected to feel so nervous about this! 

Today was all about getting two professional photos taken and my measurements. On the dedicated FB group page most folks were saying the process took about 20-30 mins so I didn't expect to have to wait long.

I arrived at the venue at around 10.50 and there were a few people ahead of me in the sign-in que. All different kinds of people from some I'm guessing in their late 60s to those in their early 20s. 

I signed in the book and then completed the chit and took a number as well as the booklet of gold which contains all the info I need on becoming a Support Artiste!

The staff on hand were friendly and welcoming and after I'd checked in I was directed to the holding zone to wait with fellow recruits for our photos and measurements. 

It was already pretty busy, I felt more comfortable seeing the variety of people in all shapes and sizes as I did have a concern it would be filled with lots of Model types. Nope! It was all going to be ok. 

I sat next to a lady who I started to chat with and it turned out she has been with the agency in the past and had been in Upstairs Downstairs. She'd had a break for a few years but was now back. 'It's great fun' she told me. It was lovely how chatty and friendly everyone was who was waiting.

I also met a chap who is in the new Poldark series and was also in the TV adaptation of JK Rowling's The Casual Vacancy. I was impressed!! 

I was starting to feel a bit more nervous as it was getting closer to my number being called. I know that when I am nervous I tend to get wobbly legs and am a bit more prone to falling over and well generally making a bit of a fool of myself (oops should I be admitting this here....??), as having a weaker left side due to the brain hemorrhage means my balance isn't 100% brilliant at the best of times. I have lots of funny stories I can share with you another time on that subject!


eek that was me..ok walk slowly, I'll be fine I told myself. I didn't have far to go - just to the other side of the room. Next thing I knew I was in front of the photographer and being photographed. I could feel my lips trembling a bit and I hoped that wasn't showing! First was the head shot then I had to stand in a relaxed pose for the 3/4 length shot. Then it was all over!  

I seemed to have chosen an outfit that matched the agencies colours of black and orange. Honestly, I'd not been aware of that when I'd picked out what to wear. I decided against going as a Cyberman this time...

Not so bad after all. 

Next measuring and that was all pretty straight forward too. All the staff there were so super chatty and friendly it really made the whole experience enjoyable. I was even complemented on my Mermaid coloured hair. 

In a matter of minutes it was all done. I had completed the official registration and the photographs would be added to my online profile in about 24 hrs. It was very smooth and fast. 

Just as I was leaving my alarm went for my car parking so that was it, all done and dusted in an hour. 

Now to read the Golden Booklet and await my first casting call! *fingers crossed* it will be a Dr.Who one! Although to be honest I'm actually rather excited about being on anything! This is a whole new and exciting world to me!!

Not that I'll be able to tell you until the programme has aired as there are strict rules around being a support artiste and working in TV/Film. I'll be following the code for sure and did have to check that even sharing this experience was ok. I decided it was. ;-)

Oh and one other thing. I share the same birthday as Dr.Who's assistant Clara - 23 November. That HAS to be a sign. Right?? 

So tell me - when was the last time you Felt The Fear and Did it Anyway? I am pushing myself out of my comfort zone doing this and once it was all done it wasn't anywhere near as scary as I'd maybe created in my mind. How often do we do that? Only to discover the reality is NEVER as bad as our imaginations make us believe!?

Love to hear from you about your own experiences.


Thursday 5 March 2015

The 40/40 Project. No.9 Take Part in the Sketchbook Project

The Mobile Library - Sketchbook Project Style

Today I signed up to take part in The Sketchbook Project.

The Sketchbook Project is a crowd-sourced library of over 32000 artists' books from 135+ countries. I can’t recall when I first heard about this but I reckon it was a good few years ago. I’d loved the idea but never seriously considered actually taking part until I started to put the 40/40 list together. It was one of those things that had been popping up in my thoughts on occasion and so I thought - OK now is the time. 

I made sure I knew when the next sign ups would be so that I wouldn't miss it and also have the most time to complete it. Signing up today means that once I have my book I’ll have until 31 March 2016 to complete it and send it back to them for cataloging. It will also be part of the 2016 Summer Tour!! How cool is that! As you can tell, I’m rather excited!

Here’s the blurb from their website:

“We are an independent Brooklyn-based company that organizes global, collaborative art projects. Our flagship endeavor is The Sketchbook Project, a crowd-sourced library that features 32,087 artists' books contributed by creative people from 135+ countries. Brooklyn Art Library is our storefront exhibition space in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY where The Sketchbook Project collection is on view to the public.

The Sketchbook Project began in 2006 in Atlanta, GA and moved to New York City in 2009. Since that time, our small organization has grown into a worldwide community of more than 70,000 artists. By focusing on the intersection of hands-on art making and new technology, The Sketchbook Project nurtures community-supported art projects that harness the power of the virtual world to share inspiration in the real world.”

Today is step one in being part of it.  I've not chosen a theme yet, but will do once the options for 2016 are listed. I decided to go for the full version which has the option for all the pages to be digitized to so anyone in the world can access the sketchbook once it’s been uploaded. Even though it will be online I still plan on taking a trip to New York to actually visit the library and see my contribution among all the others. Not sure when that will be...

I’m very grateful to my friends C & R who decided this was what they wanted to give me for my birthday. THANK YOU! It’s going to be a gift that lasts a very, very long time and one I’m very excited about starting….just as soon as the sketchbook arrives!

Just look at all those sketchbooks! Filled with ideas & inspiration
Do you fancy joining in too?

I have no affiliation with this project – so think its ok to share this with you - I found a promotional code that gives a $13 discount.  I used this today so it worked for me, I have no idea how long it is valid for. The code is CRAFTSTERBUDDIES and here’s a link to where I found the code if you want to use it or see if there are any better deals. 

Do let me know if you sign up too. It would be lovely to know a group of us are all sketching away together - maybe we could include some messages that you can only read if all the books are together? OOh that's just given me an idea! And who knows, maybe we’ll go on a Creative Adventure to New York and see then in the Art library in Brookly – or maybe see them on tour?! 

Have a super evening!



Monday 2 March 2015

Pulla – Finnish Celebration Bread

How Pulla looks in the cookbook
Each month I like to try and cook some foods from a different country and March is all about Finland. I chose Finland as I rediscovered my Moomin Cookbook recently and made some Moomin Cakes. As you do...

*ssssshhhhhh* slightly out of date Saffron soaking in milk
As I am sure you know, I really like to have a daily adventure. You don’t have to leave your home to have one and this was pretty much the idea behind this monthly foray into different foods and cultures once I realised travelling to each country wasn't achievable. Well just yet anyway!

I also have quite a few recipe books that have been neglected recently in favour of online so have had a desire to go back to the books and see what recipes have actually been sitting on my shelves all along.

Dough made in the bread machine
One of these actually turned out to be Pulla, a sweet spiced celebration bread from Finland. Perfect!

It actually makes an appearance in TWO books on bread making that I have. Each one was slightly different. I decided to try the version in The Ultimate Bread Machine Cookbook by Jennie Shapter.

It’s flavoured with saffron and cardamom, an interesting combination I thought and it looked impressive from the photograph. I made the dough in the bread machine. I don’t think this is cheating. It’s being practical.

That all went well, even though the saffron I used had been bought in 2004. Blimey. High time it was used then. It had been kept it a sealed box and smelt good to me so in it went.

My rolling out and plaiting left a lot to be desired and I don’t expect I’d win any prizes on the evenness of my strands!! Making it look perfect though isn’t the point of this little culinary adventure. It’s about having a go and trying something new.

What would Paul Hollywood say??
I also have to admit to making a variation for the topping – which is allowed, according to the cookbook *phew* and so this version is topped with smashed up almonds (rather than flaked) and dried apricots (rather than candied citrus peel). It didn’t specify dark or white rum and seeing as I only had some Bacardi in the cupboard in that went. I wanted to use the things I had around the kitchen already, which to me makes more sense and I didn’t think it would detract from the finished bread.

The topping. A mixture of almonds, sugar, dried apricots and rum
It rose really well and looked pretty darn good before going in the oven. Felt rather pleased!

And WOW. I impressed myself when it came out of the oven. Even though I followed the timing and temperature it looked a little over cooked. It’s the taste that’s important though – right?

Impressed myself with how it looks!
Well I can tell you it is very nice. Flavours not overpowering and the praline type topping is delicious.  Very light rather like a brioche although not as rich. We tried it plain and with jam and it works really well with jam (we had strawberry & fig jam).Thumbs up from me and Mr.CA and yes OK puppy had a teeny tiny bit to try too – minus the jam. Happy faces all round!

Looks slightly over done?
So seeing that this is a celebration bread what are we celebrating? Well the fact that it is March and Spring is on its way! Hurrah!

When was the last time you tried cooking or baking something a bit different? If you fancy expanding your culinary knowledge Join Taste TheWorld!


Sunday 1 March 2015

Training for B2M. A Walk of Contrasts

On Saturday the plan had been to walk some of the South West Coast Path as part of my training for my Brecon 2 Morwenstow trip in the summer. However, a wet and grey start to the day caused me to reconsider, so I changed my mind and decided to do a local walk instead. When I was at Blagdon Lake last week, I saw some stiles that led through different fields but I didn't know where they went, so thought I’d rather like to find out. Mr CA and puppy came too and it was really lovely having the company. 

Bird footprints or arrows pointing the way?
We didn't set off until the afternoon, by which time it had stopped raining, but the ground was VERY muddy and I nearly got stuck on a few occasions! 

As usual I had my eyes peeled for treasures and we found lots!

  1. Bird footprints in the mud that looked like arrows
  2. The orange and purple contrast of crocuses
  3. Moss – I love the colour and the texture
  4. Rain drops on the water and the patterns they create
  5. How full the lake was compared to my last visit
  6. The bright yellow of some daffodils against the grey backdrop
  7. The old train station at Blagdon and the original gas lamps
  8. Finding a hoard of King Alfred's Cakes!
  9. The factories where Yeo Valley Yogurt is made. MASSIVE – but well hidden behind trees and mounds of earth.
  10. Five wild deer, which when they ran you could see their white bob tails!

Those were just a few.  

The orange and purple contrast of some crocuses
Once at the lake we decided to walk a different way home so in fact walked a loop - via the local village shop where we could stock up on some chocolate – for energy of course! 

This meant seeing other aspects of the village that I've never seen before. Usually I am on the highroad driving though. It was a real treat and I was pleased I’d changed my mind and we'd done a local walk instead of some of the coast path this time. 

Rain drops on the water and the patterns they create
Training wise we ended up walking 7.61 miles and it took 4hrs and 25 minutes. We stopped a few times but not for very long. Using the MapMyWalk app (brilliant) we could see that as a result we’d burnt a total of 1059 kCal (I reckon the chocolate cancelled out any benefits of that!) and taken 16309 steps. Not bad! 

I'm a bit of a lover of moss!
This helps me to figure out how long it will take me to walk each stretch of coast path, which bits of my body hurt during and afterwards and how much rest time I’m going to need. 

When we got home I didn't feel too tired but I did have some sore points. My right leg (the good one) the muscle at the top was rather painful and I had some pain in my left foot (weak foot) – namely my toe and the area at the base of the toes – not sure what the term is for that! I had an Epsom salts foot bath, a rest and a cup of coffee! 

Even on a grey day the bright daffodils stand out
I did have some difficulty getting over one of the stiles on the route. It was rather high and I just couldn't get my leg over it! So I had to climb over the gate instead.  I was glad Mr CA was there to help me, so I'm going to need to work on my agility in terms of stiles! 

Going on this training walk has made me question how much of the Brecons 2 Morwenstow trip I actually want to do on my own. Originally I thought I would be doing most of it solo and maybe being joined for some of it. I enjoyed doing the walk with Mr CA and sharing the discoveries as well as working out the route. So I think I'd actually prefer some companions to join me for most of the trip. 

Have you realised you actually enjoy the opposite of what you think you might? What have you done that has surprised you? Even a small thing? Love to heard from you.

Light starting to fade. Wild deer in a distance

P.S the next Connect To Nature Starts 04 April. Will you be joining us for some creative adventures into nature?