Saturday, 18 December 2010

Christmas Spirit


I've been doing a spot of baking this morning - mince pies - and Im topping them with a generous dollop of thick cream, well, you've got to haven't you!!

To be honest, it's been a rather busy old week, what with dashing about Christmas present shopping, working on a commission piece (which involves those materials I showed you last week) and enjoying a very festive night out with some dear friends (and still recovering from it!!).  So it was nice to get into the kitchen this morning, stick the apron on and do something relaxing and satisfying.  There's nothing like a fresh, home baked mince pie served warm from the oven is there?  I used Rachel Allen's recipe from Bake, if anyone is curious! :)

I think it was when the rather huge tin of Quality Street was brought into the house that the Christmas Holiday Feeling crept in too.  A rather carefree sensation has taken over which is very nice I must say; The Snowman is on the DVD player and I've posted out my very last order of the year - which brings me to say... 

Thank You so very, very much to each and every one of you who has visited my little on-line shops this year, and bought pieces of my work; be it cards, prints or originals...I am absolutely so grateful that you like my work enough to buy it, and I hope to welcome you all back when I reopen my shops on the 3rd of January 2011.

Despite all the dashing about, I've still found time to marvel at the Simple Stuff ~ like the reflection of sunlight on shimmery tinsel glittering on a wall...

...icicles glinting in a pink sunrise, hot chocolate after a cold walk, the crisp, creamy crescent of a new moon in a deep navy sky, the silent heron in the river at the bottom of the garden...

 I also love the rainbow bright colours in this glittery chain which the Small One has taken to wrap around her chair at the dining table too!

 I must say I find a lot of pleasure in the Simple Stuff, yes, I really do - and I've discovered that it's necessary to make the most of those moments when life is Too Full to get to the paints, or even to hook a line of Rainbow Ripple.
It's nice to have these tiny moments in the midst of the seasonal mayhem, although it's wonderful fun really with a three-and-a-half year old girl in the house...there is rapturous excitement at almost everything and it's completely contagious!!  This afternoon promises to see some paper snowflake making and if Im lucky, I might even squeeze in a tiny spot of crochet! :D

So - I send you each warm mince pies and mulled wine, tiny moments of tranquility and calm in the midst of the Christmas Chaos - and I would like to wish all of you a Sparkling Christmas and Radiant New Year.  

Thank you to everyone who stops by and reads or comments (or both!) - you are all so very, very welcome to be here and it's always a pleasure to discover that you are.

See you next year...Much love
Julia x

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Walking in a Winter Wonderland...

Hello lovely people!

How are you?  For the British readers here, are you still battling through the snow storms?  Our little village still has about 10 inches in places, and the paths are deadly to walk on with nasty ice everywhere.

Still, I can't help but think how pretty it all looks despite the absolute Icelandic temperatures (it was minus 12 in our back garden one day last week according to our neighbours thermometer).

The dark trees and fragile seed heads look very beautiful against the white drifts, and I do like to see the stark contrast of white snow in the crevices of dark, dry stone walls.
It's been a very black and white world of late, so we were all a bit relieved when the sun came out and it started to melt.  A bit.

To keep spirits up here, and because we had nowhere we could go in a hurry, we put our Christmas tree up on the 1st.  I've never put it up so early before, but the Small One was beside herself, so it seemed to be a Good Thing to do.

Look!! A little crocheted snowman chappie from last year!!

And I'm loving our new vintage style Christmas tree lights, that we bought to replace the set that blew up last year.
They are called Pickwick, by Noma - and they recapture the very essence of my own childhood Christmas tree.  They don't flash and they're not those screamingly bright LED ones that seem very popular these, I confess I'm a bit of an old fashioned soul, and much prefer the warm, nostalgic glow of these and I do like sitting next to the tree of an evening just looking at the colours shimmering on the tinsel...with a nice glass of red wine...and a mince pie...and why not?!

So!  This week has seen me busying about - I was contacted by a lady who is opening a gorgeous new shop called Andrea Willis Designs, who wanted to stock some of my cards!  What an exciting opportunity - Andrea also designs and makes her own wonderful cards, which I love.  If you live in or around Scarborough, you will be able to visit Andrea's shop from Friday 10th December, which is her grand opening day.

Shop stock all ready to go!

You can find out more about Andrea, her work and her shop on her delightful blog, Fin & Gabs.

A quick mention here, whilst on the subject of cards and orders - the 15th December is the last day you can place an order with me for any cards/prints etc until the new year.  Huge thanks to everyone who has already sent for Christmas cards, I'm over the moon you like my work enough to buy it, and I hope you are all pleased with your purchases.  Don't forget, that 10% of all my card sales is donated to The Down's Syndrome Association too, and P&P is free in the UK.

I must admit though, once the hustle and bustle of Christmas has passed, I'll be looking forward to getting chance to design and paint again.  It feels like a long time since I shared the painting Heading For Home with fact, it was started at the beginning of November and I haven't had a moment to return to it yet!

In the meantime, there is something on the cards, that's going to involve this:

A project of a very different kind indeed!  I'm can't say too much about it just yet, but I will be sharing something very special with you in the new year (what a torment I am!).

Well, I have to say that despite all your kind well wishes, my little girl is still unwell - a nasty chest infection it is to be sure, as she had to go back to the doctors and has more antibiotics to take.
The poor little soul missed her Christmas Carol concert - I think I was probably more disappointed than her though at the thought of missing her warbling Away In A Manger in an angel outfit!  Still, worse things happen, at least we are tucked up in a cosy warm house which is the best place to be really!

I hope you are all keeping warm and toasty, if you're iced up and snowed in, do take care ~ for the rest of you who are blessedly snow free, enjoy your freedom and think of us snow bound mortals shivering up north!!

Sending love, warmed mince pies, mulled wine and twinkling lights...

See you again soon, thank you for dropping by today!

Julia x

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

The Winner Is...

Hello Everyone!

My goodness - Before I announce the winner of my Gorgeous Christmassy Giveaway, I just want to say how wonderful all of your responses were - I was blown away by how many of you shared your Christmas moments here, and I enjoyed reading each and every one of them.

I noticed that the majority of us love lots of similar things about this time of year ~ twinkling tree lights, gathering with family and friends, remembering those no longer with us, carols and church services, and one that touched me especially was the comment from Nicole who had premature twins that were not expected to survive...they will be having their very first Christmas this year!  Stories like that bring home what it's all about, so thank you to each and every one of you for making this giveaway so very special.

Anyway...without any further rambling ~ I've just had a little visit to the Random Number Generator and typed in 106 - yes, 106 of you dropped in to take part - pressed the button...and the number that popped out was...

Number 4

Rachael, from Made With Love, you are my winner (big happy smiles!)
Will you drop me a line to tell me which print you would like ~ remember, you can choose from any of the ones on my Fine Art Prints page up to the value of £14.00.  I do hope you see something that you like!

For the rest of you who entered, thank you so much!

This week has seen the arrival of heaps of snow, the heaviest of which fell last night.  I reckon we have about 30cm or so, not to mention the knee high drifts!!  Needless to say, the Small One hasn't been to her school up the village - two reasons:  we couldn't make it, and she has a nasty chest infection complete with barking cough.  To keep her busy, we got to work doing Important Letter Writing...

We're working on the Good Girl part, as apparently nasty coughs create a new level of crabbiness not encountered before!!  

For some reason (it's probably to do with the snow and all your seasonal comments), Christmas spirit is creeping in quicker than usual.  At the weekend, we drove out to Castleton to show the Little One the Christmas trees.  It was bitterly cold, but you couldn't help be inspired by the beauty of Mam Tor covered with a gauze of fine snow, and the bright cheery lights of the trees.  We have visited this village since we were children, and it's a lovely thing to be able to share it with my own wee one...

...just starting to turn on the lights...

...the Three Roofs cafe, and Peveril Castle up on the hill...I love the silhouettes of those skeletal trees against the white sky, and the welcome twinkle of the warm white lights.

Just before I go, I want to tell you about a little offer I have especially for my Facebook Likers and my Blog Followers/ can choose a personalised, hand stamped message for free, when you purchase one of my A5 individual, signed Christmas cards.  Up to 30 letters, any wording you like!!  The stamp is a vintage typewriter style which I think looks lovely - I hope you agree!
You can click here to find out more.

I'm currently busy putting packs of cards together to mail out, so not much time to paint right now. However, I'm delighted at the responses I've had to them - these will continue to be available to order until the 15th December (for UK customers) and for overseas, today is the last date for orders (so I can meet my international post date of the 6th which should get them to you in plenty of time).

Well - if you're still reading, thank you!  Thank you also for stopping by, your visit here is very much appreciated.  I do hope you will drop by and say 'Hello' again soon, it's always a pleasure to see you here!

Sending huge scoops of love your way,
Keep warm

Julia x x x

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Gorgeous Christmassy Giveaway!


I'm beside myself with excitement!! The magic number has been reached, which means the fun can begin ~ my Christmas Giveaway (hurrah!!) to celebrate 300 Followers (thank you very much for everyone who has and does), and because I haven't had one in such a ding dang long time!

OOh, and also, because they're heaps of fun, and I just love doing them :D

Being on the brink of December, I felt it was only right to have a Christmassy themed giveaway, which is why there are two of my brand new A5 Christmas cards for you, which are hand titled and signed by me...

'Father Christmas'

'Santa's Gift'

...aaaaaaaaaaaand...specially hand stamped inside with a festive greeting:

You may also have spotted in the top picture, a little decorative fabric heart ~ this is a little hand crafted creation I have made using a very pretty fabric, and will be sure to brighten up a little corner of your home.  It's finished with a nice vintage button (from my Nan's very own tin that's been handed down the generations) and a nice rustic twine bow and hanging string.

You probably also spotted a little packet of something rather delectable, which to me is one of the tastes of Christmas, and wouldn't be Christmas without them ~ yes!! Lindor truffle balls!!!  I kid you not!

So what do you think?  Would you like to take part?  OOh heck, silly me - almost forgot...there's one more thing...

...I'm going to let you choose a mounted print too!
I've shown a picture of Daffodils and Bunting here, but the winner will be able to choose their favourite from the selection of prints on my website to the value of £14.00.  

Ooooh this is so very exciting!!!  I love the chance to be able to send a little goodness out into the world, big happy smiles all round!

So - lets get down to business!! :D

How do you enter the giveaway?  Just leave me a comment on this post, telling me what makes Christmas special for you.

And that's it - I'm looking forward to your sharings and I will draw the winner one week from today...hmmm, that will make it Wednesday 1st December!! Perfect!!

Anyone is welcome to enter, anywhere in the world - so without further ado, let the fun begin!!!!!

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! :D

Sending humongous scoops of love out to you today
Julia x x x

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

'Thank You' and a Giveaway Announcement


I'm hurrying in to write this post, and I'm afraid it is a rather short, but hopefully sweet one.
First of all, huge thank you's to everyone who has bobbed by to see our little felty Christmas tree decoration, your comments have really made me smile, and have meant such alot to me this week.

Ah yes...this last week has been a rather tiring one.  The Little Egg's cold got worse and she stayed home from her nursery sessions all week.  This meant I didn't get out much and didn't get much done...and by the weekend I was also feeling a bit out of sorts, but banished any nasty cold virus away with lots of steaming hot ginger tea (she says, crossing her fingers!).'s not left much time for blog posting, or creating. 
 Aside from a juicy box of stock that I am filling and sending to a lovely shop 
called Abercorn & Co.  Do check out their website, it is chock full of the most gorgeous things!!  The box above is a picture of some of the stuff I'm sending out to them, and I'm over the moon that they asked me!  I'm hoping to have it all wrapped up and ready to go by Friday as I've been plagued by late stock deliveries and things like that, little hold ups that we just have to grin and bear!  Apologies for the terrible photo, the light here is dreadful at the moment, mostly because our weather is looking like this:

The trees are wearing their winter outfits already and make for skeletal silhouettes against dreary, grey washed out skies.  It's also terribly cold.  Which brings me to something cheery and nice to share.

I'm going to host a Christmas Giveaway!


(and its just a little but)

I am going to be bold and ask if we can reach 300 Followers first, and when that magic number appears, that's when I will announce it!  I can promise you a Giveaway of lovely Christmassy goodness, a special little something, my way of saying 'Thank You' for visiting, following, reading and commenting - as it means alot, it really does.
Becoming a Follower also gives me the excuse to visit you and your blog - I very often randomly dip into my Followers list and end up somewhere completely new and very lovely, so please feel very welcome to add your name to the heap!

Righty-ho!! It's Little Egg's bathtime so I'm off!!
Have a lovely evening, all being well I'll be posting again soon with cheery Giveaway news!!!

Much love
Julia x x x

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Oh Felty Christmas Tree!


I couldn't resist popping in today to share this little tree decoration we made with you all.

This morning, Little Bean woke up full of cold, coughing and spluttering so nursery was cancelled.  Dosed up with Calpol, the temperature subsided, and energy levels seemed to return to normal!!  Quickly bored, I decided that we ought to make the most of the wild squally weather and make something festive (I know, I know, it's only November...)  Anyway!!! We came up with this, I have seen something similar in shops, and wondered if we could make our own with a stash of gorgeous thick felt (purchased last year from the delightful Blooming Felt - highly recommended for great quality felt goodies and smashing customer service).

(the stash)

SO! Without further ado, Little Helper was settled at the table and drew a template from a ramekin on a piece of card.

Grown up Helper then proceeded to cut a circle out, drawing around it onto the felt, before slightly decreasing the size of the cardboard circle and continuing...I probably should have used a compass for a perfect circle, but we went freehand, and to be honest, I kind of like the wobbly hand made effect it gives!!!

(drawing ever decreasing circle templates...)

After a while of drawing and cutting, we had a suitable pile of felt discs that made a rough Christmas tree shape.  Oh, and we also cut out a star for the top.

Next thing we needed was a little stumpy trunk for the base of the tree.  We did this by cutting a long slim rectangle of pale fawn felt, rolling it up and sewing the edge to the main part of the roll...

After securing the sewn edge with a knot, I then neatly weedled the needle through the 'trunk' popping it out at the opposite end in the centre.  This is where we would begin to join our discs.

Between sniffles, the Little Bean had a fabulous time with a blunt needle, sewing through the dots I'd drawn onto the felt to help her.  She was most excited to be using a Big Persons Needle for the very first time, and I must say, she did an excellent job!

I finished the tree off by sewing up through the star - this felt is very thick so it was easy to do this, I then made a small knot to secure and left a length of cotton so we could hang our tree up!

I'm now debating raiding the daughter's Mister Maker box for some tiny rainbow coloured pom-poms to use as baubles, but I'm not sure...for now though, I think it looks grand!

I was really hoping to share pictures of my new painting today, but alas, with a little one in the house, working on a painting is impossible - however, I've been inspiring myself with my surroundings....

...and sketching seed heads regularly...I do love the sculptural silhouettes they create against a bright sky!

Leaving a painting is generally a good thing however, as I've learnt over time; it gives me space to look at it, see parts that need attention, or bits that need adding here and there.  For now though, Im happy with how it's progressed and am itching to get stuck in again!!

I'll share some more work in progress pics with you soon.

One more thing before I go...last week three lucky ladies were the first to comment on my Pay It Forward post...I have left comments on their blogs so I'm hoping they are aware of this, however if not, would you lovely souls named below please get in touch with your addresses, so I can mail a little something out to you in due course to keep the PIF love a-flowing!!

Twiglet (I think I have your address from before)
Lhia from The Rainbows Zen
Hello Gorgeous

Righty-ho!! That's it for me, I'm off to make a nice cup of lemon tea and a browse through my new mag (Country Homes & Interiors, its a lovely one this month!)

Sending love to you, Julia x x x

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Pay It Forward (and a work in progress)

 Hello again!

Thank you for dropping in, I am a mite bit tired today, having only got six hours sleep under my belt but I was determined to do this post as it's going to involve gifts!

(my cheery red £1.00 gerbera sitting on my table ~ isn't it lovely?!)

I was up until almost midnight last night, reading a book I'd picked up recently in a charity shop by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, it's called The Angels Game, and I scared myself half witless with this dark, menacing story set in the tormented streets of Barcelona, but could I put it down???  Not a chance!  Anyway!! Come six o'clock this morning, I was wide awake as I heard the other half setting off for Peterborough and could NOT get back to sleep.  And the harder you try, the more sleep will evade you as you all probably know...and the reason I couldn't go back to sleep this morning was because an idea I'd had for a new painting crept into my conciousness...

Yesterday saw the idea beginning to take shape in my sketchbook...

This idea was born from the imagination, but sparked I think, from the inspiring farm and moorland scenery that surround our home; watching a line of sheep piling through a hole in a drystone wall whilst dry seedheads bobbed in front of me in a chilly breeze - an idea for a farmer, driving his sheep homeward, with his sheepdog dancing about up ahead began to take shape...welcoming lights of the farmhouse cottage spilling onto the ground in a fuzzy warm glow...the palest of pale suns, setting in a creamed apricot sky...

The original sketches had a sea view included, but since then, the work has evolved to be a purely rural piece...and I'm liking how it's taking shape.  I love sharing work in progress with you, so you can see how a painting transforms and changes during its production.  I wonder what you will think of it so far?  I've decided to call it 'Heading for Home' and here's the first glimpse! the beginning of this post, I mentioned GIFTS.  Yes, that's right.  I was very, very lucky to be one of the first three people to comment on The Patchwork Heart's Blog way back in September which meant I became part of the Pay It Forward movement!!
This is a really blissful way of spreading a bit of Goodness in the world without expectation of anything in return...just giving for the sake of giving, to make the planet a bit more cheerier (and oh it works, it really does!!)

Yesterday afternoon, the postie rapped on the door and dropped a parcel into my hands.
I opened it up to find some beautifully wrapped gifts in blue tissue paper, secured with a red and white polka dot ribbon (forgive me, no pictures of this, far too excited was I to see what was inside!)

And inside dear people, were these generous presents that I love so very much, and which made me literally GLOW with happiness!

A beautiful gemstone heart, a gorgeously shabby chic heart to hang on a lonely, unadorned door, and the prettiest of needle books (which I've been wanting for an age!!)  Heather is so clever, and I can't tell you how delightful it is to receive a gift like this!  Thank you so much Heather!

If you would like to take part, then you need to be one of the first three people to leave me a comment on this post.  I will get in touch to ask you to send me your address, and in due course I will post a little something out to you!
The first three people then in turn, will send out a little goodness to three others and so the love and the happiness continues to spread around our little globe!

There is no time limit to this by the way, within the 365 days should be time enough!

Sending love to you, thank you for reading!

Julia x x x

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Pumpkins, Strawberries and Joy

Hello!  Hope you are well!

Today I am sharing my hand illustrated Christmas cards with you!  I've been looking forward to doing this, but had to keep them under wraps for a while - but at last, here they are!

I wanted to create a handful of special cards that would show lots of little images reflecting the festive season...tiny pictures and words came to mind, and so after some sketching and doodling, I came up with these.  Each hand painted tile is mounted in relief of a white A5 sized card, and they're blank inside for your own message.  Seasonal greetings have been hand written around the edge of the artwork, and each card is signed by me.

The individual tiles are hand painted in watercolour, with a shimmer glaze for added sparkle and finished with ink.  There are only four left at present and I've got them up for sale in my Folksy Shop if you wish to take a peek.

Here's a close up:

I do hope you like them!

So, wandering away from All Things Christmassy, did you all have a ghoulish Halloween weekend?  My Small Person declared very loudly that she did NOT like witches at all, and would not dress up.  She said she thought the Scary Heads in the shops were horrid and did not like it.  Instead, she would dress up as a fairy and would stretch to helping with pumpkin scooping but that was it.

So pumpkin scooping it was, and not a witches hat in sight!

Our Halloween was very murky and foggy - very appropriate spooky conditions actually, and our lantern blazed marvellously outside in the gloom.  Miss Fairy spent much time back and forth looking at it out of the window, and talking to it.

"Mummy.  Pumpkin Head is sad.  He wants to come in for some tea!"

We are now looking forward to bonfire night - must get myself a decent pair of wellies this year unless I want to come home caked in mud like Farmer Barlemow again! And then it will be Christmas...although in some respects it feels like it already!!  But before we all go demented with the sights of heavily decorated department stores (with Mariah Carey piped in for good measure), I thought I'd mention another little print I'm releasing...and this, I hope you will like, because it harks back to late summer, not a whiff of Christmas about it (unless you would like to buy one as a Christmas present of course!! :D)

Taken from the original painting 'Strawberries & Daisies' - this print will be available on my website, and eventually in my Folksy and Etsy emporiums for £14.00.  It comes mounted with a back board, and each print is hand titled and signed.

Each print is also gift wrapped in bright tissue paper and twine...

...and don't forget, UK mainland customers can take advantage of Free Shipping!

Well there is much to be done these days, Im doing my best to visit Blogland as much as I can, and I've enjoyed catching up with a few of you - Im looking forward to my mid-afternoon cuppa when I will make time to have another roam!  For now though, there is work to be done, a Small Person to keep amused so I will wave Au-revoir for now.  Thank you so much for stopping by, it means such a lot that you do, and also for taking time to comment, I know its a busy time of year for many of you, which makes it all the more special when you do drop in to say Hello.

Sending you caramel lattes, warm mittens and love

Julia x

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