Vein, a drawing challenge

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Inside I have weak veins. The thin, blue lines lie shallow under my skin. Each time someone needs to draw some blood I become the human pincushion as one vein after another collapses under the pressure. It’s OK, I’m used to it. I breathe deeply and focus on the moment when it’s all over. It takes ages!

Inside I have strong veins. The rich, crimson of my creativity runs heavy and deep. Each time I pick up the camera, a pencil, my brushes, these veins take over, command my hands and stay strong under pressure. I’m hardly aware that I’m breathing, Time stands still.


Come follow this beautiful vein of creativity to: Ariane, Lisa, Tammie, Renilde, Nadine, Katrin, EricKim, Marian, Roberto, Sharmon, Sabine, and maybe Patrice and Annton.

And Katrin is our host for next weekend, Feb 28th, March 1st with Birthday Cake!

Art: Mixed media painting, collaged paper, acrylics, oils, inks, a few vintage postage stamps

Hello from Sunday night, and, we have a winner!

Hello, hello post Valentine’s! :D


I do hope your Valentine’s Day was a special and a lovely one.
As you probably know, I didn’t have Robert here this year, but we spoke for hours and exchanged cards and love greetings from across the great, big pond. Some years are like that, and, while we’re determined to spend every Christmas together, Valentine’s Day is a bit hit and miss.

But I did wear my red shoes!

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And went for a lovely walk with my mom on the beach.


I tell you what; the rain let up, but the fog rolled in and stayed over Vancouver. I was looking out toward Vancouver Island thinking of my new friend The Hostess of the Humble Bungalow, and her sunny walk, and thinking, “Typical! And I chose to live under these bloody mountains!”

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But then Kerstie sent me Valentine’s photos of our precious three, Binky, Bunny and Ziggy, and it didn’t really matter if the sun wasn’t out, there was a smile on my face a mile wide. Thank you my baby.That was the loveliest surprise.

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Valentine’s eve was a special time for C and for me. We had a simple supper of great, big artichokes. Nothing so good as that for us.

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Then, what a difference the night makes!

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From gloomy, leaden sky, to morning sun!
I must admit I took a photo and stuck it up on my Instagram with the caption of something like, “What the hell is that bright light!!!”

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Things are just so much better with the sun, aren’t they? For days now I’ve been living vicariously thru my friend Daryl in New York and her sunny, blue skies!

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But now I have a bit of blue skies of my own!

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Oh my gosh it makes such a difference to my seasonal affect disorder brain!

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And to the garden…and to the hummingbird who zips around scolding my cats and trying to get sips of this spirea.

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And I’m able to take stock of the garden. (that’s a lot of garlic)

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And pick a posy of tiny, sweet violets for my bedside table.

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Even though it’s Sunday, I still had a bunch of work to do.


And so did C, but really, who cares on a day like today where the sun is streaming in thru every window.

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We all get to luxuriate in the sun for a day or two now, and we’ll all take full advantage of that. :D

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And now for that random generator thingie:

Congratulations Julie, from Forest Poppy.

random number Congratulations Julie! Everyone, if you have a minute, drop by Julie’s. She the most amazing knitter, quilter, all round super girl, mom to four, including the cutest forest baby, (who she’s always taking photos of running away down some forest path), living in the highlands of Scotland.

Such wonderful people as we are, should really know each other. :D

Sharing with Judith and the mosaic bunch

Invitation to Drawing Challenge # 158 : Aqua


Hi everyone,

A good friend, Kathryn, sent me some beautiful beach glass to do something wonderful with. Thank you so much sweetie. The first thing I thought to do was call a new drawing challenge. So how about Aqua! Can you imagine the wonderful possibilities?

I know it’s Tuesday already, but I hope the challenge is broad enough that quick options might present themselves. So, all you DC loves and anyone else who can pick up a camera, pencil, paint or even gather a bunch of blue hyacinths, everyone come join in!

Leave me a comment telling me you’re in, and I’ll link to everyone’s web sites, FB pages, anywhere else I can link to next Friday the (gulp) 13th and we can visit on the weekend. :D

And, don’t forget, there’s a little giveaway happening this Sunday here, for the most charming memoir gardening book in the world. :D

Quick addendum: Thru my FB invitation we have: Annon, Becca, Linda, Ariane, Barbara, Susan, Carole, Sonja, and Lara joining as well. It’s going to be a fun one! I’ll keep adding. :D Even more: Melodye, Emily, Amanda and maybe Patrice, plus everyone who left a comment.

Some gardening books I love, and a little giveaway

Well, back to the rain!

This afternoon I made myself a cup of tea and brought Merry Hall back down to the library and decided to stay a while.

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I feel so lucky to have this beautiful room full of my most favourite books. Robert and I built this library/TV room. When I bought this house, there was a broken pipe behind a wall, and R and I had to take down the wall, fix the pipe and replace the plaster…etc. Then, we took all the Ikea Billy shelves I had and bought a couple more, then, we cut some down, screwed the rest together, built a ledge under the window, and that’s how we constructed this beautiful, bespoke library.

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So, I turned on my “happiness lamp”.


And, on this cold, dreary, winter day, I thought about picking up my long neglected needlepoint, but, you know how it is, once you read one brilliant gardening book, you want to read more!

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In this room, one entire book case is dedicated to R’s books: Alexander Kent, Robin Hobb, Terry Brooks, Michael Moorcock, Peter Cheyney. One entire case is dedicated to a joint love of Terry Pratchett, Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie and P.G. Wodehouse.

But one whole case is full of my gardening books, and those are my loves.

I suppose I have all the books I’ll ever need about gardening. I’ve got Gertrude Jekyll, RBG Kew books, Rachel de Thames, Monty Don and the books from almost all the other Gardeners World presenters, I’ve got all the wonderful books which I needed to study for and get my Master Gardener degree, and I’ve got an addiction to collecting vintage gardening books; there are plenty of those. But there are some books which I love so much, that I come back to them time and again. These books are so loved, that I wouldn’t want to be without them. I bet you know exactly what I mean.


I pulled out some of my favourites…it was so hard to choose…but I wanted to share them with you.

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My first love, and the book I told you about before, is Elisabeth de Lestrieux The Art of Gardening in Pots. Oh my gosh, this is garden porn to the max!

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I got this book before Amazon, and it wasn’t available in Canada. I sent my parents, and more to the point, a British relative, on a wild goose chase to find a copy for me. They came thru with a 1990 copy from the British Antique Collector’s Club. I love it today as much as I loved it then.
(PS. My hoya doesn’t look anything as stylish as this one snaking around this amazing window…also, I don’t have an amazing window like this one!)

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My second best love is good old Martha Stewart Gardening. Oh come on, you know you loved her then. I have a strong bond with this book because, 20+yrs ago, I was expecting Chloe and in danger of losing her, and confined to bed for the last trimester of a high risk pregnancy. I sort of believe that this book, the hope of gardening in the future with a happy, healthy, fat and cherubic baby in Moses basket sleeping beside me while roses and irises bloom away, I believe that it saved my sanity.

Admit it, we all loved Martha of the old Turkey Farm years, before the Martha Inc.

But damn Martha anyway. The price of ironstone, hobnail and jadeite has absolutely gone thru the roof thanks to her.

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One vintage book I would never want to be without is Roy E. Biles The Complete Book of Garden Magic. I searched and searched for this book for a few years, even looking in the vintage book shops in London, (only to be told that…well…it’s American…isn’t it…and a little too…er…new for the London shops), but I finally found a copy. (pre Amazon, remember?) Then I found a second, newer version, and, I’m afraid it may be like my Agatha Christies. Must save every copy of Garden Magic I find!

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It’s full of the most wonderful advice…some I’ve never heard of but have followed with the best of success. One caution though, vintage gardening books are big on pesticides and herbicides. Guess they didn’t know any better back then…even the pesticide spray pumps were called “widow makers” for a reason…but then, we’re much more enlightened these days, aren’t we?

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I have a thing for “Veronicas”, and read In Veronica’s Garden when my garden architect friend Adrian lent it to me, and then decided I needed to own it. This Veronica was Veronica Milner. She was born and raised at Glin Castle, Ireland, and she gardened right here on the West Coast. She was a friend of the queen and hosted some members of the royal family there, even Charles and Diana. She offered them a quiet respite from the paparazzi flashbulbs while they were visiting the Vancouver Expo on 1986. She is gone now, and her garden is safe in the hands of the University of Victoria, and people can come visit and experience the peace that is there.

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Two absolutely fun books, which I read over and over are, The Gin and Tonic Gardener, by Janice Wells, and Tottering in my Garden, by Midge, Ellis Keebler.

The Gin and Tonic Gardener is a brilliantly written bunch of anecdotes by the witty columnist Janice Wells. Robert bought me this book for Christmas one year, and then he bought me her second book Another Splash of the Gin and Tonic Gardener. With a title like that, you know it’s going to be funny.

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Tottering in my Garden, is the memoir of an East Coast Canadian gardeners, Midge Ellis Keeble. It’s one of the most rewarding, loving, heart-warming books I’ve ever read. It is in this book, where a young mother, who knows next to nothing and goes on to build one of the most beautiful gardens where her daughters got married in, that I first discovered Roy E Biles and his Garden Magic wisdom.

So there you go. Some of my favourite gardening books. And this post is long enough and I haven’t even scratched the surface of my collection, but perhaps that’s best left for another time.

In the meantime, I have a second copy of Tottering in my Garden here in my library. It’s practically brand new and I’d love to send it off to someone. I’d love to also include a little journal and maybe some art cards and maybe some other little surprises. So just leave me a quick message in the comments and I’ll do the random draw thingie this next Sunday.

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Happy gardening friends. I’m sure the rain/snow/frost will end soon and spring will be greening and popping and springing up all over the place. :D

Stefanie’s drawing challenge: Underwear

For some reason, that silly song was stuck in mine and Robbie’s head this summer.


And then I was reading my guilty trash pleasure, The Daily Mail, and the Kardashian butt is just about all over the place.

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So I decided to draw myself a remedy underwear, so we all can have butt! :D

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There you go. :D

Now come see Stefanie’s site for all the links to the best underwear.

But first:

LOL: you know you want to!

Chloe and I took a long lunch and got lost in vintage dresses.

Isn’t it wonderful to take one day of the week and take some time?

C and I decided to go to a favourite, funky part of Vancouver, called Commercial Drive, to our favourite coffee shop, Cafe Calabria, for lunch and a good mooch around the neighbourhood.

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It’s been one of those soggy Vancouver days where it’s hard to feel motivated to go anywhere, but the promise of visiting the owners (our long-time friends), hot tea, a sticky coconut macaroon and a Frank’s special panini, was just too tempting.

There was way too much macaroon and panini for us, so we took half to go.

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And we wandered up and down the block till we came to C’s favourite store, Mintage.


You’ve got to love this store. Just look at the juxtaposition of those frilly tutus above the cowboy boots!

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There’s so much fun here, from vintage bridal…


To heavy woollen sweaters.

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And accessories too. Shoes and boots, belts and purses, scarves, tuques, and the most amazing jewellery.

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When I look in my closet, I’d love to see funky cowboy boots, soft, beaded moccasins and an old pair of roller skates. I’d love it just for fun.

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C and I grabbed a hand full of vintage dresses each and tried on the fifties. (These dresses were such keepers…OMG)

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We squeezed and wriggled our way thru the sixties…


We flower powered our way thru the seventies. (Hey, I had an almost identical dress to this one for my high school dances, and, if it wasn’t for the $180 price tag, I so would have bought it! Loved the way it looked and felt on.)

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And we giggled our way thru the eighties. C dubbed the black dress “the Avril Lavigne” dress.


We ended up with this keeper bunch which we loved to pieces.

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When we were speaking to the lovely Alex at the cash register, we told her we couldn’t think of any place to wear the (above) pink and lace dress, and she told us a story. She was late for work, dressed in her wonderful vintage, ran to the bank for some cash and suddenly she was aware that it got deathly quiet in there. She thought for a split second that there might be a bank robbery happening and, looking around, she saw people smiling and complimenting her on her dress. So she said, “It was the fabulous dress all along!” So that’s it, we shall wear the pink and lace one to do our deposits and withdrawals.

Too much fun :D

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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,

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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A trip to the antique market

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Around us in OXON, there are weekly antique markets. I always think that they are too expensive and professional and so rarely visit one, but this one in Newbury, at the racecourse, coincided with a drop off R needed to make to a friend, and so I decided I’d do that for him and visit the market.

It’s the most beautiful autumnal weather here. A bit drizzly, a few sunny spells and that generally unsettled England that we all know and love, but the drizzle didn’t dampen the spirits of the antique hunters. Holy smokes, there was a lot of beautiful stuff here. Mostly things I couldn’t afford, (or didn’t want to afford, because I’m used to finding bargains and unrecognised prized treasures at flea markets and car boot sales, and so an organised antiques market seems a bit pricey to me), but I did still find beautiful, affordable and worthwhile treasures.

I bought some of those spools from the Victorian cloth factories, some scraps of 18th and 19th C materials, and an album of sorts dated 1909, kept by a travelling girl. I’ll show you next time.

What are everyone’s thoughts on organised antique fairs? Here in E, they have a large and booming trade, but then there’s a huge population here, so maybe that’s the mitigating factor. Hmm…

WordPress weekly photo challenge, Fray.

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I was just thinking of another meaning. Of how deer fray the velvet off their antlers to mark territory. And I was thinking of how I sat in the grass at Charlecote Park and watched the male roe deer grazing. And, as I sat there, a small group came running down the meadow to join the larger group. They rubbed antlers, smelt noses and accepted each other.

A fray of sorts.

For the wordpress weekly photo challenge, Fray.

Charlecote park kitchens, laundry and brew house

Oh boy, I was in heaven in these Charlecote park rooms.

As a collector of all things vintage, my heart went all out to everything here and I just wanted to move in. As a matter of fact, I contemplated applying for the volunteer job the lady had in the kitchen, making scones for the children and petting the kitchen cat all day.

Except I’d end up painting in these rooms…lol…I just know it. Great big canvases stood up all along the walls. Might not go over too well with the National Trust.

Anyway, have a look and this incredibly photo-heavy post…but then you already know that’s the standard round here. :D

What follows is the most beautiful vintage house porn you’ve seen in a while, and, if you’re like me and love old copper and black steel and ironstone, let’s move in here together.

You can do the scones and I can paint. ;D

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Laundry house:
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Brew house:
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