Thursday 18 January 2024

It Snowed ~ Or Did It?

Hello friends!

It snowed last night.

We hardly ever get snow where I live. The last time we had any discernible snow was about 14 years ago when it snowed and it snowed. And it snowed. And it stuck with us for three long weeks. Long enough for the novelty to wear off.

Before that, I think the biggest snowfall we had was 1963. I had not long started primary school. and the school was shut for three days because the toilets froze over. We still talk about it all these decades on that's how often we get snow.

So last night close to midnight I got a surprise to see my garden lightly dusted as snow started to gently fall. ' Late though the hour was, I got my phone and took this photograph, just in case I thought I had imagined it when morning came.  I went online and posted it on Facebook. And lo and behold, my feed was full of photos of snow falling across the city. I was not the only one bringing proof that we did actually have snow.  We all knew it would be gone in an hour.  That's just the way it is here.

If we had a centimeter that's all we had. However, by this morning it had started to melt but then the temperature plummeted, and it has frozen. So my patio is now like a skating rink. I will not be venturing out on it today.

It's all geographic as I live on a peninsula, which sticks out just enough into what is the North Atlantic Drift, on the northerly reaches of the Gulf Stream. This elevates our temperature by an almost indiscernible amount. Yet it is enough to keep us relatively snow free unless it gets really bad in the rest of the country. Even three miles down the road, they can have a few inches of snow, and we get nothing.

Here are some photographs of the last time we had snow.  Some of the clouds were spectacular.

Roll on Spring now, the novelty of keeping warm has gone.  Unfortunately it seems this coming weekend sees us back in the land of gales and storms.

I also need to tell you that my air fryer makes perfect toast, in fact the crispiest and driest toast, the most delicious toast I've ever eaten.  I put it in the drawer on a rack on the Max Crisp setting and five minutes later I'm tucking in to the Best Toast EVER!  It doesn't even sweat on the plate.

Until next time.
Stay safe. Stay well. Stay warm.

Saturday 13 January 2024

Roses Are Red My Love {voices from beyond}

Hello friends!

My late mother loved roses. It has been five years now since she left this mortal coil, but a long time before she died, she spoke that she wanted one single red rose on her coffin. However, when the time came, I couldn't bring myself to do this as I felt she meant it to come from my father, who had died a few years earlier. So I bought a beautiful wreath instead.  Then this happened.

Years ago, when I lived abroad. I used to send money to one of my cousins who would go and purchase flowers for my mother from me on Mothering Sunday every year. One year we discussed it and she bought a potted miniature rose instead of the usual bouquet of cut blooms. After the potted rose had served its time, Mum planted it into the garden where it flourished and grew. Some 30 years passed, and the small rose survived. 

During the last few years of my mother's life between my duties of caring for her as she slowly succumbed to Alzheimer's. and my own illness of Parkinson's starting to take hold the garden started to suffer from neglect. The borders became overgrown, and plants  choked and died. There was no sign of her rose. Where I live, roses flower from the Spring to late Summer. By the end of September, they are spent.

Fast forward to the morning of my mother's funeral on a cold and windy November morning.  I came out of the house to get into the limo and as I walked past the borders I noticed. not much bigger than the size of a 50 pence piece a red bloom in the middle of all the overgrown weeds. I had to stop to take a closer look. I could scarcely believe my eyes Here we were in the middle of November  and the tiny flower that I could see was a single red rose flowering on the plant that I had given my mother all those years before and I had given it up for dead amongst the weeds. Can you even begin to imagine how I felt at that moment?  November, when the roses should have stopped flowering and this particular plant was being choked by the weeds that surrounded it. And here we were on the morning of my mother's funeral, looking at a single red rose.  I was being reminded of the request that she had made years earlier and it was being fulfilled.

Here are a few pictures of some of her roses.

Then a few months later there was this.

It was January, three months without Mum, and I had been very down and unhappy since Christmas and missing Mum more than words can say. My neighbour asked me to go down to Whitesands with her so I did. It was a beautiful day, cold but blue skied, and the tide was way out. As we walked along the vast expanse of sandy beach, I suddenly felt myself being drawn instinctively away from the path I was treading across the beach. A few feet away, a tiny heart shaped piece of sea glass called out to me and I answered its call.

Just to say, Whitesands is  a big beach, especially when the tide is out, see above, and it is not known for its sea glass, yet I found this tiny piece of heart shaped glass. I have never found sea glass before. This is my first piece I have ever found.

I don't know if you believe in the afterlife, or voices from the great beyond. but between the experience of the glass heart and the single red rose, there is no doubt in my mind. None whatsoever.

Until next time. 
Stay safe. Stay well. Stay warm.

Thursday 11 January 2024

The Oliphaunt

Hello Friends!

I am very happy with my little oliphaunt {as Samwise Gamgee would say}  It was drawn from a copyright free stock photograph as part of the online Drawing Magic Secrets at Atelier Ida Andersen Lang.  It took me somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes.  I would like to revisit this image and do an in depth study with all the shading.

I was rather intimidated at first as I'm not used to drawing animals and it pushed me well outside my comfort zone, but that is how we learn.

I received this lovely A5 pocket sketchbook by Winsor & Newton for Christmas.  It is vegan pleather.  What a thoughtful gift.

I hope you are not too badly affected by the weather. It is awffy cold!  I was reading just this morning that the NHS recommends the minimum temperature for health is 18*C, or 64*F.  I do keep mine at that balmy setting but do my best to keep myself warm with layers of clothing, quilts hot water bottles and hot drinks.  Funny how in the summer months 18*C seems most pleasant. 

Until next time
Stay safe, stay well, stay warm

Saturday 6 January 2024

The Vikings Are Coming!

Hello Friends!

I hope everyone in the UK and near continent and Scandinavia are safe after the barage of storms we've had in recent weeks. I know some of you have suffered and it's going to be a long time before the flood waters will drain. I am thinking of all of you and sending wishes for normality to be restored as soon as possible.

There's a Viking invasion on Facebook.  It's a silly game everyone is playing whereby you have a photo of you edited to show what you would look like as a Viking.  Having had an obsession with Vikings since I was a child {along with all things Celtic too} I couldn't resist joining in. Frankly, we all look like siblings!

This is me as a Viking.  I like it!

As I enjoy creating fantasy portraits, and I'm currently learning to draw using graphite, I just had to draw a portrait based on me as a Viking.  My goal it to be able to draw people that are recognisable and while I'm very happy with the sketch, she does not look like me as a Viking.  

She is not quite finished.  Part of me wants to invest a little colour but part of me resists that thought.  I want to finish off her shirt, and I'd like to work a light bokeh background but I am afraid of spoiling it.

To satisfy my need to apply colour, I did this one using just Caran d'Ache watercolour and Spectrum Noir water resistant coloured pencils.

When drawing the outlines I use the basic formula of an oval divided in half both vertically and horizontally, then the bottom half gets divided in half again, twice.  Here are some stages in the early development of a portrait as you might like to see how one develops.

As you can see, the proportions are basic and can be altered, but the more you tweak, the less human like the face becomes, making it more fairy like, or elfin for example. I like to fill in the eyes early on as it makes the face less spooky!
*Editing to add that this method for drawing a human face was not created as one might think by the genius that was Leonardo da Vinci, but by the American illustrator Andrew Loomis in the 1940's!

Next week I begin a seven week long intensive drawing course using graphite under the mentorship of Danish artist Ida Andersen Lang I hope to vastly improve my skill set in this medium.

Until next time
Stay safe, stay well, stay warm!

Thursday 4 January 2024

I am Ninja!

Hello Friends!

Well, I'm not a Ninja, but in November I joined the growing ranks of happy air fryer owners with the purchase of a Ninja AF300 dual drawer air fryer.

Succinctly put, I could not be happier!

For a while I had prevaricated over this increasingly popular item.  Last year I noticed I was struggling with my cooker.  It is old, about 30 years if memory serves, and not only was I concerned about the safety of it being gas along with the lack of consistent heat, I struggle to lift things out safely without dropping them due the hand tremors I have almost constantly. Additionally, it takes time to preheat and is expensive when only cooking one thing. I could see that a new cooker loomed on the horizon.  

In assessing the situation, I decided to purchase a microwave oven and after thorough research I decided upon a combination microwave.  It was cheaper than an oven and might be easier to remove hot dishes of food, which it was.  It was delivered the next day and I found myself using the oven less and less, especially as my cooking habits have had to adapt around my ability to use a knife {another story!}  In fact, I was barely using it at all except to cook the odd portion of pasta.  I can bake cakes, bread, pizza and anything else in the convection part of the combination oven, the microwave if I'm in a hurry, or use a combination of both.

One day, purely out of boredom, I was watching QVC extol the virtues of their TSV, a Ninja dual drawer air fryer.  My interest piqued. I didn't purchase one but the seed had been sown.  Air fryers no longer floated in my peripheral vision but were suddenly popping up everywhere like little nudges from the Universe.

Time passed, I did my due diligence researching a variety of brands and concluded Ninja seemed to come out best of all.  Then, Lakeland Ltd had an offer on all Ninja models they sell. The best one for me was reduced to £170, but I stalled. I stalled at paying £170 for so long that they sold out.  Gosh darn it, that old Libra indecision rearing it's ugly head again.  

I wrote it off as a bad judgement on my part.  Then, a week later they were back in stock and with further reductions now saw a £220.00 appliance retailing at £130.00.  I did not mince about this time but jumped right in and for I believe this is what is called a "no brainer" in modern day parlance.

Now the first thing I learned is that cooking in an air fryer is a very different beast and I admit I've had a few burnt offerings and blips, but the more I use it, the more I learn and the more I like it.  So much so that I cooked my entire Christmas dinner in it!  {my Christmas dinner came, like Margo Leadbetter's, in a van ~ from COOK}

Silly me, I've not been taking photos but I did remember to do so today and this is my perfectly cooked, exactly how I like it, Halloumi cheese with couscous.  Last night's supper was a stuffed and roasted pepper which was delicious.

I think the most surprising discovery I've made to date is that you can make perfectly boiled dippy eggs!  My favourite with hot buttered Marmite soldiers.

Conspiracy Theory Thought:  According to Lakeland, 45% of UK households now own at least one air fryer.  That's an awffy lot o' air fryers.  So, I'm beginning to think this is new technology being silently and overtly placed in every home until there are enough planted so the aliens can start transmitting their signals.  LOL 

Until next time
Stay safe, stay well

Tuesday 2 January 2024

2024 The Year Of . . .

Hello Friends!

So here we are, Day Two of a brand new year.  Now, I'm not one for making resolutions.  I see them as setting yourself up for failure from the get go, and if you truly, really do want to do something, why wait for January  1st?  Why not start as soon as you can?

Totally out of character for me, I have come perilously close to making actual resolutions for the first time in about forty years, but thankfully I pulled myself up just in the nick of time. I have, however, decided to make some lifestyle changes and commitments to improving myself, it's just coincidence I'm implementing those changes now.

So, what are they? I hear you ask.

Dispense with the Grumpy Old Woman syndrome!  Instead of whining, whinging and complaining try to find something positive to say about a situation

Be kinder and less angry by looking in the mirror.  By this, I mean that when someone does something that unbeknownst to them upsets or angers me, instead of ranting or giving what for I should stop and take a look in the mirror to find out why their actions are provoking me so.  Then, diffuse the situation with love and take steps to remedy my response or reaction.  {caveat: misuse and misspelling of two, too and to; their, they're and there, sew and sow; sowing not planting seeds; drop not bit of water, etc are not included in tolerance management lol}

Eat sensibly and try to exersise more,  This should not require explanation.  It's common sense, but thanks to a combination of grief a diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease, and the pandemic both have been ignored for three years and I have suffered.  It's time to get back in the driving seat.

Resume Morning Pages. The above helps take care of the physical, Morning Pages helps take care of the mental.

Learn some new skills and take on the challenge of using and clearing my Crafty Stash.  This will help keep me active {especially when Winter weather limits going outside} will reduce the amount of "stuff" in the cottage, and hopefully result in some beautiful things.  I will share my progress with you.  Who knows, I might even run some giveaways for my makes.  You will need to be following visibly in the sidebar to qualify for these events which I will spring without notice.  

Procratination must stop.  Had I not procrastinated or prevaricated with such aplomb, I would not be in such a pickle over matters I do not wish to discuss!

Finally, I refuse to beat myself up if I slide off the Path of Changes and Improvements.

If you are implementing changes and wish to share, then I'd love to read about them too!

In the meantime, I have been busy sketching again.  Here are the results of Sunday's work

Until next time
Stay well, stay safe

Monday 1 January 2024

It's 2024

Wishing All My Followers

A Happy, Healthy and Prosperous

New Year 2024

Heartfelt thanks to everyone for following and especially when you leave a comment.  Here's to more blogging happiness within our community during the coming year!

Until next time
Stay safe, Stay well
Debbie xx