Dress, Patrice’s drawing challenge

I was so glad to be able to be a part of Patrice’s drawing challenge this week.

Let me just say that I love clothes, Chloe loves clothes, we both love looking good and feeling good in clothes, but what we don’t like is knowing that hundreds of pounds of textiles end up in land fills every year because the fashion industry has a terribly slavish built-in obsolescence. And we also don’t like that new textiles carry toxic ingredients in them, such as “safe” levels of lead and cancer causing fire retardants. Clothes are soaked in them and we are expected to put that against our skin. We also suspect that each sequin sewn on to clothes manufactured in developing countries has probably been sewn on by child labour.

So we tend to buy a lot of second hand, ethically sewn, and organically produced clothes.

This time around, I decided to see if I could do some eco printing on some clothes, and see what the results would be.

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So, with the gathered leaves, and a quick trip to the local thrift shop, which produced a shawl, a T, a summer dress and a linen tunic…
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I soaked the clothes over night in a vinegar water solution, and we started to layer the leaves.

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Now the thing about eco printing, there are very few instructions out there, and it seems that people give various pieces of the puzzle but not the whole process, so I basically pieced together a system, (which is probably pretty unique to me, since I have very little idea of what I’m doing), from several blogs, videos, and snippets of books on-line. One gal’s blog which I found very beautiful and inspiring is this one: Obovate Designs. You should check it out, Melinda makes the most beautiful eco prints.

One thing I knew for sure, there are things called mordants which change/deepen/fix/help with the colour, but apart form vinegar, they all seemed pretty chemically, and not wanting to contribute to more chemicals in the environs, I chose to only use vinegar.

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I used leaves, red onion skins and spent dahlia flower petals on my two pieces, and C got creative with pomegranate seeds and beet slices on her two pieces.

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That is, when she wasn’t eating the supplies. :D

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I turned the clothes wrong side out, and did a sort of sandwich of leaves in the middle. With the shawl, I spread the leaves on one half and folded the second half over. Then we folded the clothes and wrapped them around a stick and bound them with elastic bands.

Then we put them into my large turkey roaster on a steaming plate, and steamed them for two hours.

Then we put them aside to rest overnight.

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Some days I have about as much patience as a small gnat, and this three day project really stretched what little I manage to achieve, so on the third day, we ran to the kitchen first thing in the morning and started to unroll out clothes.

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The more leaves, seeds, slices and petals we picked off, the more delighted we were with the result, and the dye material all went into a large bowl and straight into the compost.

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Then we hung out or eco dyed creations and waited for them to dry.

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And this afternoon I gave them a little iron, and we had a fashion show!

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We are actually thrilled with our first eco dying try. We love the earthy quality the natural materials gave our clothes. And the best part is that we created something unique and genuine. Recycled clothes, natural dyes, Earth friendly products. It’s all good.

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If you’ve stuck with me thru this whole, extremely long post, thank you, thank you so much and bless your sweet, pink hearts. :D

Here, again, is the link to Patrice’s site where you can see more wacky, creative and fun twists on the Dress theme.

Big hugs for a wonderful, eco friendly weekend for all. :D

Cookie, Stefanie’s drawing challenge

Stefanie says “cookie is a nice word, isn’t it?”

Oh it SO is!

I’ve done so much of the painted cookies in the past, that I decided to do something completely different.

So when is a cookie not a cookie, but still is? When it’s a little silver cookie necklace.

Here is a little fortune cookie with a fortune to keep you happy and lucky all the time you wear it.

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I had something in my mind, and as usual, I took the approach of, “how hard can it be?”

I cut out a small disk of silver, which I then bent and hammered out and bent and hammered out about a half dozen times. (yes, that is a hockey puck, we are Canadian after all :D ) Anyway, turns out, bending a small silver disk in two opposite directions is bloody hard! But, after heating it red hot, it became a bit more pliable for a few seconds, but that was enough to get a good bend.

Then I cut a little fortune in which I engraved, “Love is” one one side and “you” on the other.

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Then I punched holes and soldered jump rings and chain, and pickled and filed and polished and polished and polished.

And then I got a certain freckle faced girl to model it for me.

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I’m really happy with it.

Come visit Stefanie over the weekend and check out other cookie enthusiasts, and please pardon my absence till Monday afternoon, I’m getting out of town to a friend’s cabin for our Thanksgiving weekend and will not have internet, but I’ll be around just as soon as I get back into town. Sending big chocolate chip cookie hugs your way. :D

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Swoon, Tammie’s drawing challenge

I signed up rather late this week. On Wednesday I thought, “Oh, yeah, drawing challenge!” And it turns out, our host is my friend Tammie, with the word “swoon”.

Oh my gosh, does anyone swoon any more?

I sat in my bedroom Thursday morning and thought about swooning, and kept having images of Edwardian ladies in tight corsets. They used to swoon, didn’t they?

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So I went thru a bunch of supplies and pulled out an old Toile de Jouy curtain panel. You know that material? With the bucolic images of lovely Edwardian life.

So I studied it and saw a couple hurrying across a bridge and wondered what they were hurrying away from.

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Oh! So that’s it! Will you just look at the state of the apple pickers. The youth these days…eh?

And, does she have a nose ring? And flaming red hair? Is she smoking a cigarette and wearing a pointy Madonna corset?

And does he have blue hair and goatee, and gang tattoos and a huge gold chain? I think so.

And is that a longboard?!? And is he handing her a skull?!?!?

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Better hurry along little Edwardian couple. That’s enough to make anyone swoon! :D

Come hop over to my friend Kelly’s lovely blog Soulful Home when you have a chance. Not only is she a fantastic decorator, she has wonderful DIY ideas. She’s started a Soul Sister Series and I’m being featured as her first soul sister, Isn’t that lovely? And I’ve offered a giveaway of one of my original paintings.

And remember to pop over to Tammie’s when you have a chance to check on the rest of the swooning. :D

Fis(c)h, Miss Herzfrisch’s drawing challenge

I looked around and realised that I actually paint a lot of fish! There are goldfish in the living room, koi under autumn leaves and goldfish lanterns in the family room, and a surrealistic azalea and koi painting in one of the guest bedrooms.

And, although I drew myself a steampunk fish on some handmade paper,

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I wanted to do something a bit different.
Chloe has been having some fun with wire wrapping crystals and left the wire and pliers in my studio, so I thought I would give a try with a little wire sculpture.

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C’s wire plus a few beads and voila! Here are my two fish:

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I took them outside to photograph them in the morning sunshine. I love how they sparkle.

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I think maybe they might end up on the Christmas tree among my collection of glass ornaments, but for now, I think they’ll hang out on the grapevine wreath above the fireplace.

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Come on over to Sabine’s and check out everyone’s ideas. :D

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Hello from Sunday night

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Well, hello autumn! Is everyone ready? Ready for the mountains of leaves and crisp apples and chrysanthemums? Bring it on!

It’s been a rainy week here on the West Coast, and just as well for me because I really needed to cocoon and spend some time in thought and meditation, but the glorious weekend brought sun and loads of it and a wonderful Saturday at the river and Sunday at the beach.

Dogs, and farmer’s markets abound and also strange little art get-togethers. I love that, you know. I mean I love dogs and farmer’s markets, but so love to see a group of people, of all ages and expertise levels, set up their easels, paints and canvases and just go for it for the day. There was a group at the river, about 30 strong, ages five to 85, who painted En Plein-Air for four hours and presented their masterpieces in one of the historic shipyard buildings as an exhibition. I just loved every painting I saw.

One more thing which means super fall to me is HOCKEY! YAY! Clove and I caught the first Wolf Pack game. C’s boy Bryson is an extraordinary skater and has been serving as a linesman for the higher league hockey games, and this game was being played 10 minutes away, so naturally we went to support him. The Wolf Pack team is the last minor league boys can play in before they get called up to the NHL, (or not), so scouts are watching, and the game is fast paced and…um…testosterone-y to the max. In the third period, there were three WP players off the ice in penalties for roughing at the same time. I’m so glad that Bryson has years of Aikido as offensive training…lol. Although we’re technically cheering for the refs, it’s nice when the home team wins, and the Wolf Pack did! :D

So, two more days and we technically put summer 2014 to rest. How is everyone feeling about that? Does anyone do anything about celebrating the equinox? A little pagan ritual or something? I’ve been watching Outlander and now love all things Scottish…including Robbie, who is Scots…but now want to do something spectacular to bring in the fall, like build a stone henge right in my back yard and have a ceremony. I know, I don’t tend to do things by half…lol. Maybe I’ll just make a piece of jewellery from one of the pieces of ancient flint I’ve strung up on a copper wire. What do we think? Maybe a necklace with mystical powers? Looking up the powers of flint, I think I need to get this book!

Well, that about sums up my week and weekend. Hope yours was wonderful and you got the best out of it. If it wasn’t, then oh well, tomorrow’s a new day. Big hugs for a wonderful and shiny week ahead everyone. :D

PS: I have another of those darn spaghetti squashes round here. Anyone know something spaghetti squash fabulous?

Sharing with Judith and the mosaic bunch. :D

Second hand, Joke’s drawing challenge

This is a wonderful theme, thank you so much Joke.
Anyone who knows anything about me knows I’m all over that one!

Out of all the maps I bought in England, the one I really fell in love with is a 1963 map of Oxford.

It’s been well used. Someone drew on it with coloured crayons, divided four sections and crossed off houses along some streets. Every time I look at these maps I love the scribbles and tears and wrong way pocket folds…they all tell a history. In this case it might have been a salesman or perhaps a survey taker, but who ever had this map in the past, it’s mine now and I decided to paint busy little bluetits on it.

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They’re perching on a little split hazel garden fence and quite possibly eyeing the morning milk delivery.

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Robert tells me of mornings in his childhood, when the door was opened and little bluetits were fleeing the scene of the crime having pecked thru the tops to have their share of the milk.

So here is my drawing challenge painting: Bluetits over Oxford.

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Come visit Joke when you have a chance to see all the links to everyone’s interpretations.

Japan, Nadine’s wonderful drawing challenge

Finally! It’s time for the drawing challenge.

Nadine took the lead for the first one after the August break and her inspiration is “Japan”.

Last month I bought a sort of “grab bag” of goodies from the London Embroiderer’s Guild.

I wasn’t sure what I would do with any of these little bits, but, being half magpie, fell in love with the sparkly richness of it all and had to have it. The bag includes a piece of a 1920 shawl, postcards, bits of lace, threads and some sort of patterns. (Not sure at all what one does to transfer these sorts of patterns onto cloth…maybe iron? If you know, please tell me. The hallmark on the side says they were produced by a company which closed in the 20’s.)

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I was looking at the pieces and decided that for this challenge I would try to draw with a needle and thread and everything I used (with the exception of a beading needle) had to come out of my little grab bag.
I’m not much of a seamstress or embroiderer, but I’ve been a huge fan of sashiko for a few years now and so tried to do a little of that myself.

There was a little piece of green-flip-red taffeta and I enveloped it around a not-so-attractive piece of black, sparkly felt and some layers of rough cotton.

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Then I took some of the orange silk thread and stitched the sun in the middle of the rectangle.

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I drew some lines with my chalk art pencil to guide my hand with some quilting.

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And I used a lovely silk chord to stitch the quilt lines. This is fascinating thread. It changes colours from a soft green to a soft purple. I love it.

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Then I drew myself some cherry blossoms with the chalk and stitched them with a fine gold thread (which is apparently supposed to be added to another kind of thread…oops…good thing I don’t know much about much.)

Lastly, some little gold beads made up the flower centres. I love it! Not sure what to do with it now, but maybe a central panel for an evening clutch? Any ideas?

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Anyway, I’ve missed the drawing challenge for the August break and am happy to be back with my lovely bunch. Come pop over to Nadine’s site and check out every one’s interpretation when you have a chance, and if you’d like to join, visit our Rose Ariane for the list of who is next. :D

All work and no play? Don’t think so.

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Oh boy oh boy oh boy! We’ve been major energizer bunnies round here.
We’ve been building the carport, and removing stuff to the tip, and collecting plums, and chopping wood, and burning branches, and digging out a huge and ugly privet hedge for a deep perennial garden along a back fence, and we’ve been at it hammer and tongs till our legs are scrapped and bruised and we look like the walking dead.

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All this work has left very little time for art, but I’m happy to report the beginning of a carving.

My friend William, (who lent me his father’s chisels), gave me a piece of maple to have a go. OK, so, maple must be the biggest joke wood in the world! It’s as hard as rock!!! In fact, I can’t imagine oak or mahogany being harder.

So, very quickly it became very apparent to me, that I wouldn’t be the owner of a lovely maple woodcarving of a wildflower meadow with a wren. :(

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I’ve been thinking about carving a wooden spoon and asked Robbie how I might go about doing this. He looked at me and gave me his jig saw. LOL So I drew some designs on my maple and decided on the one I liked and set to it.

I cut out the wooden spoon with R’s jig saw, (R helped me cut the handle), and started carving it with the mallet and chisels.

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This is how far I got after about four hours of carving time, plus you can see the scale of this spoon. It’s a big one! :D

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So far so good. More work on the bowl, and, of course, I only have chisels instead of a draw knife for the handle and curved blade knife for the bowl, but I’m getting somewhere.

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Where was I…oh yes…fun…

So R got a phone call from his optician to say his contacts were in, so we drove to pick them up, and R surprised me with a day out visit to one of our favourite towns, Wallingford.

This is a beautiful market town of old brick and flint houses and postage sized courtyards and tiny little streets…like this one, called Mousey Lane, where we could hardly walk beside each other.

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We had a little lunch and tea and a good mooch around the antique emporium.

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I fell in love with two handmade teddies, some old chisels and a beautiful painting of a very curvy nude, while R fell in love with a gas mask, (which he wants to wear instead of goggles to drive his new project Medusa). We bought the gas mask, a chisel, and the handmade teddies for Binky and Bunny to play with, but, unfortunately, the beautiful nude was pricey and painted on wood, so very difficult for me to ship back to Van.

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Late afternoon, on the drive back home, R did a u-turn and we parked up at a little hill called Wittenham Clumps for a walk. It’s a special place which has inspired many people, from Victorian poets to contemporary artists. Here is a very interesting site about an artist who dedicated his art to the place.

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Run by the Earth Trust as a wildflower meadow, this chalk hill has the oldest stand of beech trees in England.

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We walked all the way around the clump…

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And looked out over our Thames and over our beautiful South Oxfordshire.

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Who says we don’t have any fun. :D

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Hello from Sunday night

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Gosh it’s been such a busy week and I’m extremely behind on commenting and visiting everyone. Come to think of it, it seems like that’s the case with practically everyone out there. :D Are you all enjoying the last couple weeks of summer holidays? I hope so.

Oxfordshire is so golden and beautiful in the late summer and it’s so lovely to be here in the country rather than the city this time of year.

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Robert and I have been trying to get on top of major house and garden projects…like extending the garage and planning a conservatory…as well as getting out to enjoy our world.

Work on the Land Rover is moving along at a snails pace mainly because we keep finding more engine or body work problems, but it’s coming together. We’re almost there for taking the Landi in for its MOT.

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I’ve been sanding, cleaning, patching and repairing the body like crazy, and finally got it to the point where I’m happy to paint it with a rust-proof primer.

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The primer has made a transformation! Now I can paint with the original Land Rover sandstone paint colour it should have been. Yay, progress! All so exciting.

We’ve decided to keep the original face where the vintage tags are on the central panel. I like the little bit of history.

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Not much to report from the art department this week either.

A little more work on the blackbirds. All three fireweeds (willow roseherb in the UK) are drawn in in black India ink and a first layer of colour is in some places. Loads of work left and I better get on with it if I want to show it in the village competition in two weeks.

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I’ve been doing a bit of linocuts and having fun with those, especially since I bought some easy to cut lino form a fantastic on-line company. Gosh, do you know how much I love the whole UK system of buying things on-line and then they come in the next day or two? The whole Royal Mail system is just dynamite!

But the only other piece of art I managed this week is this little bullfinch. He’s been stalking the garden these days. I put him on a page from that old 1918 dictionary with the words “splendid” and “splash”. He is a little splash of splendid colour in the garden.

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We were going to take the mini racing this weekend, but the weather has turned rainy and cool. (Can’t race in the rain) We did, however, find this magic crop tiny mushrooms all over the place. Well then, hello autumn?

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My time here in the UK seems so short now by comparison to when I came here late June and now it seems that I can actually feel the time drawing to an end. I hate feeling the pressure of having to change countries, of leaving Robbie, exactly the same feeling I have when I leave Vancouver and leave my children. Wish I could be in two places at the same time.

Wow, this summer seems to just be flying by. I hate that. Is it just me, or does anyone else have that feeling? When time seems like that to me I have to make a conscious decision to slow down and live in the moment. Every moment. :D

Round here

I can’t believe how fast the month of July has trickled thru my fingers!
Where did it go? I also can’t believe that a whole month has past here at West Cottage. Sometimes I wish I could make the time stand still.

Spoke to Chloe today on Skype. I miss that girl of ours so much, but isn’t it a wonderful world we live in that I can see her live whenever I want to? I also love that she’s finally (after I threatened to not renew her web space if she didn’t do something with it), keeping her blog. And, can I just say that her photography skills are so amazing now! She’s got my professional Canon in Van and has learned to use the tripod and timed shutter release and some of the photos are taken that way. But all are taken by her!

So lately I’ve been gardening weeding waging total war on weeds in some pretty impressive heat, while watching the beautiful Oxfordshire skies for approaching thunderstorms, and having silly fun; like raiding Catherine’s pebble drive and collecting odd pebbles and flints and designing prehistoric families. (My prehistoric man had an impressive cod piece for a while but Robbie waved the subtlety flag.) :D

in Oxfordshire

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This morning R had to run some chores just very close to Oxford and so I begged a ride into town. Thursday is the antique market in town and I was dying to visit the map seller. I usually buy a lot of damaged old maps form him that I can paint on.

Things worked out pretty well as R was going to be about an hour, and so we agreed to meet in 50 minutes and I hoofed it the last mile into town. Good thing I did too. The traffic was a morning grid lock and, despite the ridiculous number of students clogging the sidewalk, (for the summer months), I got to the market in ten minutes.

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OMG! So many beautiful things to see! I want to come back and buy some lovely blue and white plates for Kerstie’s collection, and this dress! If I were to get married I’d so chose a 1940s gold embroidered beauty like this rather than any new gown in the world. (Oh, and also have a couple ribs removed to fit into it! LOL)

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But mustn’t get sidetracked by the shiny sparklies. (I swear I’m half magpie)

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Here is what I came for. This wonderful seller has a box of damaged maps. Just perfect for me and my art. I never want to use perfect old maps. I love the broken, ripped, drawn and written on ones. You know, the ones which have a history; which have been loved to pieces.

Unfortunately, before I got to the map bloke, I came past a tool bloke and got seduced by a sexy chisel. I did have £30 to spend, but, after my chisel I only had £24 left. I chose the maps I wanted and explained to the nice map man about how I couldn’t help myself with the chisel and he laughed and said, “Let’s see what you want and I’ll give you a deal.” Then he totalled up my maps, which came to £30, and said he’d take £20 for the lot! Wow! So I went to a used book stall and spent the last £4 on some more maps! Hooray! Now I have loads of maps to paint on. :D

So happy.

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Later this aft, I took a couple of hours to do some work on the blackbirds. I walked out to the fields and picked some fireweeds and drew them around my blackbirds and began painting them in. Lot’s more work to do still, but I like the way this little painting is coming along.

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And, the village flower and veg show is coming up, so I might enter the blackbirds into the painting competition.

So tomorrow is August. Welcome August! I’m settling into the summer grove and loving life.

And speaking of love, I’m crazy in love with the beech forests right now and R has promised me a walk thru them. Can’t wait. But first we’ll go for a walk beside the Whomping Willow, (which is really a huge chestnut, but C called it that about 10 years ago). I love it there. We always see some deer. Actually, I surprised a muntjac deer yesterday evening. He walked out of some tall grass right in front of me, got scared, ran off and barked at me from the trees. Boy are those little creatures loud!

I think I might go for a walk this evening again to see if I can find him under that amazing sliver of a new moon out there. :D

Big hugs to everyone. Hope your last July day is a sunny and warm one filled with beautiful moments.
:D