Summer at home tour

EDIT: Winner of the chickadee/bluetit painting is number 3 Patricia
and Winner of the towhee painting is number 37 Marion

It’s been an exciting few days of trying to figure out exactly what where home for the summer is.

I sat in my studio and started to paint and came up with this image: The impossibility of my West Coast chickadee on the same bird feeder as my British blue titmouse. Both the same species of birds, both hundreds of miles apart. And that best describes my life, my friends, because Canada may be my country, but Europe is my home town.

Most of you know that I was born in Prague and now live between Vancouver Canada and Oxfordshire UK, so this probably doesn’t come as a surprise.

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As far as I can remember life has always been like that…an adventure, and this site is a way for me to communicate that adventure with you.

This is where I live for 7 or so months of the year: a 1920 Craftsman cottage nine streets away from the Pacific ocean. Where I have a studio in the loft, with a rather large green and oak trunk, which holds C’s summer journals.

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Chloe has been keeping summer journals practically since she could write. I looked at the journals yesterday. I flipped thru the pages and remembered us in Geneva, in Vienna, in Prague, in Venice, in Paris and in England. Every summer, ever spring, every school holiday and sometimes when there was no holiday but we said, “Stuff that for a game of soldiers, let’s get out of here!” And we lived there. Really lived there. Rented an apartment, spoke the language, cooked the groceries we bought, entertained the friends we made, hiked the country, rented a car and ended up in Lichtenstein, got on the fast train to Prague and spent the night in Berlin (oops)…really lived.

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I’m so glad we glued C’s photo to the front of each journal as a reference to that year. These journals are put away now, safely, for her future, but each one is a treasure of summer memories.

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Right now I’m about five days away from switching city for country, pavement for meadow.

The quirky 1920′s cottage in Vancouver for an equally quirky 1950′s cottage in Oxfordshire with a name rather than an address, West Cottage, five fields away from the Thames, where my love is at the moment.

Switching my beautiful blue/green ocean…

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for my beautiful blue/green river.


Where I always stop for tea and dream up new art, new techniques, new media…

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Like enamelled copper, pottery, stone carving and lino cuts.

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Where my vintage mini and land rover wait for me to join Robert’s one-of-a-kind cars and our friends at races and car shows.

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Where I hound car boot sales and come back with way too many treasures to cart back to Vancouver at once.

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But this summer is a special summer. I’ll be going to Prague first. Back to the heart of my home, my spirit, my wandering Bohemian nature. I’m going where the light is pink and my grandparents sleep in the warm earth. Going to visit family and friends, to speak the language, to walk the streets, to touch the city and connect with my home.


And then, then I’ll fly back to London, and Robert will pick me up and we’ll drive thru Oxford…


and we’ll go home.

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And we’ll stay at home till the weather turns and the early autumn fogs start rolling over the meadows and all the wildflowers turn to seed…


…and the wind will change direction and we’ll feel it and see it in the willows, and I will leave my river…

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…and return to my ocean.


Do you remember a couple of posts back I said I would give away this image (below)? Well, I decided to give away both the chickadee/titmouse and the beginning of this post and this towhee image below, plus a few of my greeting cards, and any other silly and wonderful goodies I can think of, to two random generator numbers, so, if you like, please leave me a comment and I’ll draw the name on Monday morning and post it off PDQ before I leave on Tuesday, (so please leave me a way to get in touch to get your addy). Also, I’m off to visit with my daughter Kerstie and my three granddaughters for the weekend (and this requires hours of driving), so might not have a chance for replies till a bit later, but, since we’re probably all bloggers and you all feel the same thrill, am every so grateful for each and every comment and connection. :D

Also, sending out a great, big, THANK YOU to Kelly who invited me to take part in this lovely blog tour. Please pop over to her site. You’ll love her warm and gentle nature as much as I do.

Here is the updated blog tour list for everyone to visit these lovely gals.

Wednesday,  June 18th

 On Sutton Place

Stone Gable

My Soulful Home

Thursday,  June 19th

 Country Design Style

Cedar Hill Farmhouse

Lilacs & Longhorns

Friday,  June 20th

 Thistlewood Farms

At The Picket Fence

Jennifer Rizzo 


Saturday,  June 21st

Our Southern Home

Southern Hospitality

Debbie Doos

Veronica Roth

Finding Home

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A downtown community garden

Vancouver is a small city for a major city…as far as cities go. As a matter of fact, it really has nowhere to grow geographically but up. The whole Lower Mainland is a bit stuck in a triangle between the Pacific, some pretty uninhabitable mountains and the US border, and is so arteried with water, either ocean or river delta, that land is at a premium.

The other day, I had an appointment downtown. Now getting downtown is sometimes a bit of a “take a chance” game to get over bridges and thru traffic, and I found myself with an extra half hour to spare to walk around a little.

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I love this temperate, ocean-front climate, and it sure allows for easy green spaces. Most downtown streets have boulevard trees. Most courtyards and corners have lawns and flowers. There are plenty of rooftop gardens, and apiary installations and even a wild meadow roof, so no surprise that against this beautiful skyline I walked thru a community garden.


The big surprise is that it is on a very valuable street corner and completely open and inviting to the public.

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No fences, no gates, no signs which say, “these fruits and vegetables are for the gardeners only”. Completely open and inviting, with benches and paths and beds full of loveliness.


And this could be because Vancouverites, (as a general rule), are a friendly bunch, or because gardeners really do want to share, but here, on this street corner next to a major hospital, next to alleyway homelessness, within a hub of a transient community, it could be because these gardeners recognise the need for giving, for fresh fruit and vegetables, clean water and the smell of roses. Because gardeners sometimes just garden for happiness, not for profit, and, because some big corporation hasn’t got its permission/funding/fingers into this valuable little street corner yet, there’s time for gardeners to share.

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I like that :D

hello from Sunday night

It’s been a lovely weekend round here.

Our weekend actually started late Friday afternoon, when, after a seriously long day of appointments, C and I found ourselves out at the river delta in the late afternoon and decided to take a look around.

It wasn’t long before we found a beautiful little vintage shop in a little community.

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Where I found these incredible handmade Steampunk robots, and this ray gun!

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While C found a vintage Hudson’s Bay blanket in great shape.

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We didn’t get out of the shop empty handed…lol. I immediately bought the blanket for our collection and I also scooped three vintage Bowie records, (you know, true love lasts forever :D )

Then I remembered a little agricultural island with an organic farm nearby and so we found the rickety old turquoise bridge which led to it crossed over one arm of the Fraser River. (PS, I live way in that distance, just at the foot of those mountains!)


We found the farm.

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An organic nursery, with a little general store selling local handicrafts.

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Homemade jams, jellies and honey.

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And they had freshly picked strawberries and this year’s first crop of new potatoes for sale. I was really excited about the potatoes and strawberries because I had invited 15 people for supper Saturday night.


Saturday morning C gave me a hand cleaning the house and we ran a few things to the Salvation Army. I had it in mind to make a fabulous Eton Mess for desert but only had six vintage, crystal finger bowls to serve it in and so we looked around for some similar pressed glass bowls to have enough for all our guests.

We found loads! At $.69 each!

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With so many people, I decided on a BBQ featuring pulled pork, baked ham, those lovely new potatoes with butter and parsley, and a huge green salad from my garden.

By the afternoon, the kitchen was clean and two heads of garden butter lettuce, some red lettuce and some herbs waiting…

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Bedrooms were clean and decorated with the new blanket…

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The James Bond bathroom…clean, with fragrant hand soaps at the ready, the stairs to my studio cleaned of papers, books and other detritus that naturally collects on stairs…


Wine glasses ready, wine bottles open…

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Dining room table prepared…

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Everything shiny and bright…but where are our guests?


Here they are!


the Eton Mess was absolutely delicious, and the youngins went to hang out in my studio and catch up.


We all had such a lovely time and talked and laughed into the evening.

Sunday I put away the cleaned silverware and my new glass bowls, figured out how to photo transfer onto glass, and spent some time in the silversmithing studio. (Evidence of creativity on Instagram)

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And big bonus for me: lovely memories, vases of fresh flowers and a clean house. :D

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My kind of Eton Mess:

One cut up angel food cake
About ten small macaroons (crushed into big chunks)
A ton of fresh berries
About 200 ml of whipping cream, whipped but not too stiffly
About 150 ml of crème fraîche

Put the cut up angel food cake on the bottom of a platter,
pour most of the berries on top, reserving a hand full for the very top
mix the whipped cream plus the crème fraîche together and pour over the cake/berries on the platter,
sprinkle the remaining berries and the crushed macaroons as a final layer.
Serve immediately so the macaroons stay crisp.

Yum city!

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Vinci’s Gallery and Caffé , a discovery

The wonderful thing about being in the arts and having a flexible schedule is that I can drive C to her morning internship appointment, hang out at Sbux for an hour, pick her up and drive to my afternoon appointment and we get to spend the day together.

How fun is that?

Well, C’s appointment ran a bit longer, (she’s been sent to a publishing company to learn the Helix computer software), and that left us in an unfamiliar part of town with about 30 minutes to grab some lunch.

I told C that I remembered a small, quaint cafe which used to be in the area millions of years ago and so we decided to try to find it. We didn’t, but happily we found this lovely little gem of warm lights and soft pillows and beautiful, bold paintings.


Everything about the Vinci’s Caffé is fresh and thoughtfully presented. We especially appreciated the lemony water and Bon Maman jars upcycled as glasses.


We ordered ham and cheese croissants and decided on a nice table at the back of the restaurant away from the glare of the day.


And faced this lovely painting which slid sideways to reveal an office! How cool is that? :D I asked the most likely culprit, Sandra, who just happens to be the owner and resident artist, if I could take some photos and share.


I passed Sandra’s easel on my way to the washroom. I can’t tell you how much I love the idea of painting in one’s own cafe/gallery. (sigh) Someday?


The back hallway leading to the washrooms and back exit had more beautiful paintings as well as giant canvases yet to be painted.


We enjoyed our lunch so much here. Not only were the croissants fluffy and warm and buttery, but eating them surrounded by huge oils and a warm glow was exactly what we wanted. We’ll be back.

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Hello from Sunday night…which is turning into a Monday morning post again!

Boy oh boy what a glorious, heart-warming, soul affirming weekend I’ve had.

I must say that I’m on top of the world! :D

And wish to send out a great big THANK YOU to the almost 500 visitors to my garden.

After this weekend, each and every one of the 500 wonderful, gentle, garden and art loving souls I chatted with, my fellow artist assigned to show in my garden – the talented Jackie Miller, the incredibly talented musicians – The Land Of Deborah (Saturday) and Justin O’Donohue’s Jazz Trio (Sunday) – who entertained, the volunteers who sat curbside for five hours each day and explained the lay of the garden, my wonderful neighbours who not only showed up early to help me set up and lent me tables and chairs, but also came by both days to chat and support me, and of course, The North Vancouver Community Arts Council who judged my garden and then my art worthy of being seen, will stay in my heart for ever.

And an extremely warm and grateful THANK YOU to all the people who bought my paintings and my photo greeting cards. Thank you for claiming the paintings as your own thru heartfelt memories and experiences. I hope they continue to bring you joy and brighten your lives for many years, and I hope my greeting cards bring smiles to everyone they are sent to.

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My natural predisposition is to be nervous about my artistic talent and my mood spectrum is usually full of misty skies and churning seas, but having strangers…now friends…exploring the garden, marvelling at my crazy planting schemes, laughing at the corkscrew hazel branches as cat deterrent and seedling protectors, asking for eventual cuttings, taking hundreds of photographs, exploring my paintings, asking for painting technique related tips and how-tos, saying such lovely things about my art, stopping with cups of green tea and amaretto or coconut cookie in hand and, in one case, sitting cross legged on the brick circle under the saved apple tree and meditating for 30 minutes, was the greatest personal gift for my heart, which stayed sunny and warm all weekend.

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I met so many like-minded people. I was paired with two other artists, (one of whom couldn’t show at the last minute), so the weekend became a two woman show! But the lovely Jackie Miller, who I only just met but am sure to adore forever, brought a great amount of paintings and colourful flags to the show and we were just fine. I also feel in love with Deborah, who was slated to entertain on Saturday. I took a video of her performing Skyfall for me as a request. (Linking you up at the end of the post). You must have a listen to her soft, perfect voice, and she has some downloadable music on her website!!

Go grab it…I’ll wait.


You all know how lucky I am to have Chloe by now, but I have to tell you that that sweet child of mine stuck with me for the whole weekend, being cup washer and cookie plate refiller, banker, manager, supporter, promoter and, in two cases, publicity spokesperson for a taped interview and the local newspaper.

How much do we love her?

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She did get a second or two to smell the roses too.

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I couldn’t believe when I looked over the garden on Sunday morning and found a new saved iris had opened and it was completely different from the other five saved varieties. This one is pure, clear amethyst!

Oh, and I have to tell you that game after game of tic tac toe was played. That game board was a big hit.


Here’s C posing for the newspaper photographer.

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Sunday’s entertainer was Justin O’Donohue and his jazz trio. They were absolutely wonderful.


I found out that Morgan, while she loved being underfoot or stretching out in the garden, absolutely hates the sound of the big base. What’s up with that?

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But when the band took a break and went into the garden for some tea and cookies, Morgan skulked around the instruments and devised a plan to take back her patio!

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But finally she settled on the warm pebbles behind the chives and went to sleep.

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So then, by 8pm, after treating ourselves to a sushi supper and after washing the tea cups and tea pots, I walked into my silent garden, thanked all my plants, watered the poor, hardworking lawn, and cut a fragrant rose bloom for my bedside table.

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And Morgan curled up on the patio basket and went to sleep in the last of the evening sun.

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Here is a link to Deborah singing “Skyfall” for me, (which I was dying to hear again because I was engaged with some people when she sang it first). I put it on YouTube and Vimeo to make sure you there are plenty of options for you to hear her lovely voice:

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round here

Just a few shots from round here today. :D

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Started the day with Milo coming for a cuddle. Made a cup of tea and drank it while exploring waves of morning sunlight on the curtains and seedpods. Morgan checking out a new haul of baskets. I love those two to the left. These two make four in my collection. Can you believe that baskets are 50 cents at the thrift stores? I caught a ray of sunshine on the patio this afternoon, made spaghetti Bolognese for supper, and Milo has developed this habit of hiding under the flowers until I get too close and then does a mad streak in front of me and across the lawn sniggering, “I am the night!” What is he like? :D

Catching up, checking in

I’m sitting in the dining room this evening going thru some photos and talking to C about her day. I was just thinking how nice the light is, so I took another photo and downloaded that one too.

Days have been busy and a bit long round here lately. You remember when I contemplated doing this art in the garden show and thinking that if I spend an hour/day till the show working on the garden, this would equal 70 hours and that should be enough? Well, turns out it isn’t enough…and it’s taking a monster amount of time to get the garden lovely. (hence, lack of postage)

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And of course, this leaves less time for art, (again, hence, lack of postage)

And, finally, this leads to lack of cuddle time for the cats…hence, interrupted art and gardening…hence, lack of postage. Lol.


But I am getting somewhere, and, generally, the art and garden parts are coming along on schedule…not that there is a schedule…just a firm idea of success or fail in my head.

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Days in the garden are long and days in the studio relatively short in comparison, but Chloe joins me as often as she can. The other day she bought a $2 tank from the thrift and sketched a lovely design on it for herself while I painted. I love it when she stays in the studio with me. I love those times.


And other times she tries to get my attention while I’m gardening…lol. I love those times too.

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But everything is coming along in the garden. The seeds are all a success and coming along, and I found some old iron fence panels to cage the raspberries with so people can actually walk down the garden path.


Have a look at these beauties. The irises in the lower right photo I bought with the house, but the other three are saved from construction sites in the ‘hood. Aren’t they lovely? Such a beautiful surprise, since I saved them before they bloomed.


Lately I’ve been thinking about how I garden, and that means indoor as well as outdoor. I’ve been after one of these plants for a year or so now and have found a fantastic specimen for very little money. It’s a rabbit’s foot fern. So called because its aerial roots look like fluffy rabbit’s feet.

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Another bunch of plants, which I’ve been noticing lately, have been air plants, so I decided to do some gardening with one.

What do you think?


It’s a sort of Wardian case, which came form a thrift shop (and originally held some bath products according to the label which I scrubbed off), planted with three charming Wade figurines: a fish, swimming in a bone fountain, a monkey grinning form some driftwood C gave me, and squirrel ready to hide his nut among the polished pebbles.


And a beautiful air plant…which doesn’t actually live on air as I found out.

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Not much to report form the silversmithing studio. I’m afraid that my efforts continue to look rather VERY homemade and organic. (How do people get the bezels so smooth and the edges so perfect?)…(sigh)

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There are these five new rings; three with beach glass and two with beach polished pebbles.

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Actually, I like this one very much. I might keep it and wear it for a while.

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Well, little more sunlight left out there, so I’m off to water the garden.

Missing regular posting, but happy that all the work is getting done.

Big hugs to you all. I’m trying to come around to everyone’s blogs, so just remind me and I’ll be right over to say hi. :D

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Patio dress rehearsal for the Art in the Garden show

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Yesterday evening the patio paint was dry, and so Chloe and I moved the baker’s rack and the iron table base back on the patio.

I had been sanding the sealing the wooden top, which my daughters and I built three years ago, and C helped me carry that to the patio and we plonked it on the iron base.

Then I had a cup of tea and a think.
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For the past million 15…maybe 20 years, I’ve had functional but rather ugly green plastic restaurant chairs on the patio. Then, the other day, C and I discovered a lovely red chair at the local thrift for about $3 and we bought it.

Right there and then I decided I needed more red in my life! :D

So today I found one red, wooden Ikea chair and two really ugly black and gold iron chairs with a nice structure.

Half of a can of red Tremclad later…and just a tiny bit of wind carried paint which painted my feet a nice shade of sunburn…and Voila! (Don’t worry, I was wearing a mask and didn’t breathe any paint.)
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Then, a trip to the fabric store yielded this lovely outdoor cloth for $5! Now I just have to figure out what to do about the seat itself. I stopped at the foam shop, but the quickly drying outdoor foam would cost about $100 for the two seats! Yeah, I don’t think so!

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So here you have the beginning of the patio dress-up for the garden show.

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Yeah! I love it too!
I love the privacy screen, and the different chairs and the riot of flowers in the blue and green pots.

Loads more pots and rusty iron works to put into place but I think it’s looking a lot more like “garden show” ready. :D
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We’re expecting rain over night and for the long weekend and it’s just as well because I have to get back up there into the studio and paint, otherwise it’s going to turn into an Art in the Garden weekend! Lol

Sharing with Kathryn at The Dedicated House

Home, lately

Today I realised that I only have two weeks left to the art in the garden show! Yikes!

So Chloe and I decided that the patio has dried out as much as it’s going to and are taking advantage of these next few sunny days to give it a new coat of paint.

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Quite possibly it wasn’t the wisest of things to do to pressure wash the old wood just before an open to the public garden show, and Robbie and I had a hell of a time replacing rotten timbers, but the patio is as good as it’s going to be this year, and so, even though it will need replacing next year or the year after, it’s looking good with a generous coat of Sherwin Williams thick and gloopy patio paint.

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I took a walk in the garden in the late afternoon sun to bring you the scoop.

The patio pots have all been planted with petunias, geraniums and snapdragons in pinks, purples and creamy yellows and are just waiting for the patio furniture to get back into place so they can live out their lives in the dappled sun of the maple trees.

It’s a good thing too because a load of weeds have come up on the back patio that I need to weed out of there.

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I love purples and bronzes with creamy yellows, don’t you? It seems that purple is a bit of a theme round here this year.


Speaking of purple to the max, these are the “saved from the construction site” irises that I had no idea what colour they were going to be when I saved them last year.

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Aren’t they the most heavenly shade? I’m so happy I saved them.

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Mostly my seedlings are doing really well in the veg garden. The tomatoes were checked a little after last week’s hail storm, but I think they’ll recover. The peas, sweet peas, garlic, cabbages, cauliflower and beans are just fine.

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The little begonias, on a shelf on the North side of the house, are growing and blooming their hears out. I’m hoping for a really spectacular display in the next two weeks.

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The clematis Montana, which is growing up the ancient apple tree, is in full bloom. It’s so spectacular right now that I can’t get enough of it. Yesterday I saved some plants from the construction site which used to be my neighbours to the West and I looked up at the ancient apple tree and the clematis Montana and thought, “holy smokes, my neighbours have the best view!” :D

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So here is Morgan reminding me that I still have two bags of potting soil to allocate to pots and then I can rest. She’s always so helpful…lol.


The good side of today is that the garden part of the art in the garden show is coming along wonderfully. The not so good side is the art part is a little on the slow side, but I’m getting there. A new painting was started yesterday plus three new canvases primed.

More from my beautiful saved garden and my art in the days to come; sorry to be so pedantic in my posts but it’s occupying most of my time right now. I did contemplate getting up into the studio for the rest of the evening, but I’m feeling pretty tired and so I think I’ll watch a finale and have a rest. Don’t you hate that all the best shows are ending? (OK, truth be told I only actually watch 4 or 5 shows… Person of Interest, The Blacklist, NCIS, Elementary and Agents of Shield.) But what am I going to watch after this week? Hope they bring back Warehouse 13 or Defiance for an other season. Hey, did anyone watch Resurrection and Bitten? What a load of enjoyable silliness. What do we think? :D Anyone have any recommendations? I hear 24 is really good. I watch the first season but couldn’t stand the daughter. Before I watch it again I sure hope she gets disappeared. (Oops…did that come out loud?) Big hugs to everyone from the land of the tired. I think Agents of Shield is winning out in my mind …silliness without the testosterone stress factor.

Ciao Ciao for now. X

EDIT: What? Warehouse 13 final series is already started? Nobody tells me anything!!! :D

Friday creative energy

It’s been a topsy-turvy sort of day round here. Robert has had to return to England and I have obligations here for a few more weeks, and so, missing him very, VERY, VERY HUGE AMOUNTS, I always flip into loads of work and projects to make the time flow by as smoothly as possible.

I spoke to R this evening and told him we’ve had hail, rain, sun, sleet…all the above.

He said that somehow we’d figure it was his fault for leaving. YEAH…that’s it! :D


Today I took my lonesome self into the silversmith studio.
I have it in mind to maybe make 10 pieces of jewellery before the art in the garden show.

So armed with countless cups of tea, garden tulips and and some imagination, I got to work.

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I made this little beach glass and carnelian ring. What do you think?
I’m worried that it’s still all amateur hour here.

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I did have a terrific amount of frustration making this ring though; including two melted bezel cups and an incomplete soldering of bezel to ring, which came apart as I was trying to polish it and I had to start all over again…for the third time. I started to despair that I’ll ever be a decent silversmith.


But I did have a success! I did make this feather which I rather like.

I have to figure out a better way to score silver though. (so much I don’t know yet). I think I might make this into a little necklace. I fancy hanging a few feathers like this from a little silver branch. That might be nice.

I’m so glad you’re all sticking with me in this discovery of the silversmithing process.


I’ve been moving the garden parrot tulips around with me and finally they ended up in the last of the evening sunshine and looked so lovely I took these photos.


Perhaps tomorrow I’ll concentrate on painting for the art show and give my poor inept silversmithing muse a break.

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