Snow, yarn and other such ramblings

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There’s been a spot of colourful hooky going on in these parts.

After a bit of pootling on Pinterest and various and delightful craft blogs, I discovered a newish craze for granny square blankets emerging.  Aha! I thought; I could do with one of those very things for my own sweet bed!  However, Christmas was upon us, and I had neither the time nor inclination to contemplate a new blanket project, so I filed the idea away for future reference…fast forward to January, and I eventually caved in and bought a new stash of Stylecraft Special DK wool to set about making a granny square blanket of my very own.  My heart had been well and truly taken the moment I cast my eyes upon this beautiful blanket here although there are many fine specimens to be found upon the interweb as I’m sure you will discover.

I cannot lie to you, I was so smitten with Sandra’s colourway that I ordered pretty much the same shades of wool that she had used for her blanket.  And it’s coming on a treat; its a fine way to pass a happy hour on a winters eve, curled up on the sofa watching Miranda, gigglesnorting like billy-o and knocking up a few squares in deliciously vintage coloured yarn.

I’m using the join-as-you-go method, fiddly as heck, but saving me a lot of sewing at the end which can be a tad time consuming to say the least.

During the day, I’ve been working my little socks off on some new pieces of art for my solo exhibition…would you like a peek?  You would?  Here you are then:

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The Coastguard Cottages

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Beside the Waves

I also have a plan to create some coastal inspired characters on some small box canvases, with an element of collage and stamped text about them.  I’m mighty excited by this sudden flurry of inspiration and I’m making sure I write down lots of notes about these ideas in my book, should they happen to dissolve and disappear from my busy little head forever.

After a colourful week, our world suddenly turned very grey and white.  The snow finally came to our little corner of the world and we decided that we would go out and enjoy ourselves enormously.

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There was sledging and snowman girl making, the obligatory snowball fights and wanderings down the back garden to see the river which had turned into a magical winter wonderland…

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I love the sculptural shapes of the branches and seed heads, and that glorious blue sky!

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As I work, I see my little feathered friends making more frequent visits to the feeder (which is hung a couple of feet away from my window).  I love to watch them, and wonder how something so small can survive such terribly cold nights…

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Another feathered soul paid us a visit too…can you spot him?  He’s a regular visitor, and can often be seen stooping in the shallows, waiting to catch a plump trout for his lunch.

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Back inside after our snowy meanderings, hot chocolate of the best kind, topped with the squirtiest of cream and tiniest of marshmallows is consumed and jammies are put on.  It’s only 3 o’clock in the afternoon, but it’s a snow day from school and there’s no need to be going out again; may as well just cosy up indoors and do a spot of painting with C…

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…and on a whim, I dug out some papier mache style hearts and painted a whimsical little Valentine’s scene.  These hearts are secretly magnets, but would look rather dandy in a nice box frame I think.

So my week is only just begun, but already it is filled with the simplest and nicest of things.  And if it needed icing on the cake, it came in the form of an email from my lovely agent, who wrote to tell me that three pieces of my artwork have been accepted for licensing by a client, and therefore shall become cards or suchlike.  I am delirious with delight, because this is another one of my dreams come true.

And dreams do come true you know, if you believe they will.

I’ll see you again soon, have a wonderful week and thank you for coming to see me today.

Love J x

Gently Does It…

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I’m easing myself gently back into my work this week after that lovely Christmas holiday.  My daughter has gone back to school and the house seems ominously quiet, so yesterday I busied myself with a spot of de-cluttering, starting with my bedroom which was anything but a peaceful sanctuary for sleep and more like a dumping ground for Homeless Objects and outgrown baby toys.

I unearthed quite a few half finished paintings which I sent for recycling (sometimes you just know they’re never going to be anything else other than half finished), and discovered a stack of canvases and mounts I’d forgotten all about.  I also found a new home for my fabric stash, which up to now has been stored rather untidily in a pile of carrier bags but is now folded into neat piles in a drawer.

I must confess, I was rather ruthless in my de-cluttering.  There was a heck of a lot of stuff that got thrown out or put in the recycling bin and I was shocked at the amount of junk I’d managed to accumulate.  There’s a huge pile of books and clothes for the charity shop, and a local childcare centre will be the new home for some of the baby toys which we’d hung on to.  Once I’d finished the hard graft, I burned some delicious essential oils to bless the room if you like, and it really did feel very fresh and new again.  Last night I had the best nights sleep I’d had in ages, uninterrupted and full of lovely dreams.  Waking up to see a little jug of flowers sitting on a vintage embroidered mat was heaven I can tell you.

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I find the helpful advice of the Flylady to be superb in all things to do with keeping house, so if you’re feeling the itch to Spring clean, check out her website.  Another great resource if you don’t naturally lean towards chores and the like is this book, Housework Blues by Danielle Raine.

Having a gentle week pottering and decluttering (which is such a marvellous thing to do as opposed to throwing yourself head first back into normality) has found me digging through my paintings and sketch books, and a painting I started work on way back last year is now resurfacing.  It’s called The Apple Pickers (the picture at the top of this post) and I’m really pleased with how it’s coming along.  You can just about make out the figures if you look carefully, as well as a veggie patch and a greenhouse.  This painting is an acrylic on paper and will be part of my solo exhibition at the Studio 61 Gallery in May this year.  I’ve also got a lovely idea for a box canvas, which I’m going to start work on next – again it’s a coastal themed piece but I’m going to be introducing an element of collage to it.

Something I’ve been longing to do for a while now, but never made the time for previously is the creation of an online art workshop.  I’ve finally got around to ordering myself a nice tripod for my camcorder, so that I can start making some tutorials.  I’m also planning a fully illustrated e-book to accompany the course, and am hoping to release this in the next few months.  I’ll keep you posted on this as things progress.

Before I go, I have to introduce you to a new resident who’s come to live in our little home.

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Meet Muffin.

Muffin is a Sheltie guinea pig (one of those with the soft, long hair) and the most adorable little chap you could ever wish to meet.  For the last few months we have been ‘umming and ‘ahhing about having a pet, but finally relented and went to get him on Saturday.  It was a huge surprise for our little girl who had been pleading with us for ages to let her have something furry to care for.  We are all enchanted by him, his little squeaks and bouts of popcorning (the ecstatic leaps into the air, apparently done when extremely happy) have rendered us helpless with delight.  I can’t quite imagine life without him now, he’s definitely part of the family.

I’ll be back soon, with some news about a new crochet project I’ve started.

Thanks for visiting,

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2013 Blueprint – how to make your dreams real in an instant

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Happy 2013 to you.

As a new year dawns and unfolds, it’s a time when people start making resolutions.  A new year is a natural new beginning, and a time to turn inward to look at our deepest dreams, hopes and desires.  And as we begin to feel excited about the future, we begin to make goals.  We begin to dream about what life will be like as we journey through our new year; how things that we have long yearned for will suddenly become a reality…except….except…

…except it very often doesn’t.

The trouble that I’ve had with goals in the past is that they’ve always been so damn far away in that just out of reach future of mine.  And to be perfectly truthful, most of my goals were things that floated around in my head, I never put the energy into making them happen because they felt too huge, too far away and too impossible.

Hmmmm….does this resonate with any of you?

I had a wake up call recently, I realised that although I did what I loved for a living, had a nice home and a smashing family, I was mostly plodding on through my life without making conscious choices to improve it.  One year would meld itself into the next and nothing would change.  I started to feel stuck, bored, slightly depressed and experienced feelings of IS THIS IT???

Disillusioned with far off goals that never seemed to materialise I decided that I had to start working with the small stuff first, the day to day stuff.  I knew I could start to improve all areas of my life and make changes to things that didn’t feel so good anymore.  We’re forever growing and expanding as people, so it stands to reason that at some point we’re going to outgrow certain habits, ways of doing things, ways of being.

I needed a way to get the ball rolling so that I could see instant results (for that feel good factor) and that meant working with smaller goals that I could make actionable immediately.  I decided that each day would be a blueprint of happy inducing things, and that instead of living with one foot in the past and one foot in the future I would try and remain poised in my present and enjoy the 24 hours that I’d been gifted with in the best ways possible.

I can apply my blueprint to all areas of my life ~ family, work, leisure, self study, diet and exercise; and I can choose the best of every option available to me, the options that make me feel good, that will make my day happy and fulfilled and become a blueprint for the future.  By choosing things that feel like the Best Choice for me, I am setting a pattern for the future – and if at any time my blueprint feels out of kilter with what makes me feel good, then I can just tweak it to suit.  My new habits will become a natural way of living in time and as I come to expect the best from each day, life seemingly gets bigger and better.  When we raise our expectations of what we want from life, life will deliver.

Creating a new blueprint for your life need not cost much money – you might decide that you want to just feel happier each day and start keeping a gratitude journal to write about all the stuff that lights you up.  A commitment to eating healthier one day at a time doesn’t have to cost much more than what you spend on your groceries now and the pressure of a diet disappears when you’re living consciously one day at a time.  You won’t need to spend a fortune on a  fancy gym membership that costs the earth to commit to a bit of daily exercise – start walking, get yourself a workout DVD to do at home or find a local class that you can attend, and family time will become much more enriching when you become present and focus upon the time spent together, one day at a time.

Commit to it, and create your blueprint for 2013, one day at a time.

However, a word about Big Goals That Live in the Future…

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I still have plenty of long term goals, they’re sitting on my radar and they give me something to positively aim for alongside being happier and more fulfilled on a daily basis.  I’m going to be having my first solo exhibition this year, at the Studio 61 Gallery in Derbyshire this May.  This is a BIG dream of mine that I’ve had for eons and suddenly the opportunity was presented to me to make it come true.  However, to achieve this dream (because it ain’t gonna manifest on it’s own), I have to invest both energy and action – this comes from integrating the painting time into my daily blueprint, and then taking action to make it happen.

And I think that’s the magic word – action.  Goals and dreams are wonderful things to have and to aim for, but we need to take action to make them real – they very rarely happen as if by magic, there’s generally some input needed from us.  For some, these actions feel insurmountable or nigh on impossible, but by breaking it all down into small and achievable chunks, you can get there.

One day at a time.

Take your dream or your goal, and break it down into chunks.  Ask yourself what you need to do to achieve your goal and then write down how you best can do it.  And while you journey towards your big goal, start creating your daily blueprint and see how things instantly change for the better.

I hope your 2013 shines for you, and becomes your best yet.

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