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      Inspiration and War

      June 20th

      A light bulb moment

      Where do you get your crafting inspiration from? 

      It's a question that has been rolling around in my head for a while and in the past few days two good blogging friend's of mine have started to help me formulate my answer.

      The lovely and generous Amy over at Love Made My Home recently posted about the four shawls she is designing all inspired by one of her favourite books, Little Women.  I thought this such a lovely thing to be inspired by and it has set my mind in all directions.  See how we can find inspiration from each other.  Cannot wait to see all her shawls complete and where her ideas lead my inspirations to...

      The book that inspired Amy

      Arne and Carlos' journals
      Then of course the Norwegian duo whom I often return to again and again to help me in my dark days of not knowing what to make, Arne and Carlos below are just a few examples of their notebooks and journaling that help them on their creative journeys of designing and how to live.  Don't you just want to reach into the photo and open up one of those books, oh I so do!  The closest thing I can get for you is their video in showing how they make these books and how they fill them in, they really are a duo and work so well together... "Art journaling"


      Years and years ago, more than I care to remember I too kept scrap books of ideas, I suppose they would be called mood boards now and in this digital era we live in maybe even Pintrest is the latest scrap book.  Having taken a break from scrap booking for many years I have myself tinkered with Pintrest, then abandoned it as my time was being sucked up by mindless web time but I seem to be coming out of this barren mood board creation. Designing urges are growing and my web browsing time is slowly increasing again one could say in direct proportion to the neglect of household chores and growing piles of stuff around the house   

      But the latest inspiration actually is not from the web but from glossy magazines and the huge array of adverts that can be found within.  Here one can tell the latest trends and it sets the mind awhirl.  Now, anyone got some of these expensive glossy magazines hanging around I can peruse or must I hang about in various dentists and doctors surgeries.

      Adverts are a great source of inspiration

      So many ideas from this advert spring to mind

      If you've read Phil's blog post Cherries,
      you will see  I have stolen my marbles back! 
      Ha! Phil, see it is war, I've been
      to your blog and stolen them back ;)
      And then my most recent inspiration has to be Phil over at The Twisted Yarn.  Those who have followed my blog for a while may have realised I have a bit of a fan crush on Phil, she is a knitter extraordinaire and in latter years has become fiendishly good at crocheting.  She and I seem to spur each other on like naughty school girls and any communication with her spins my head into overdrive and ideas and thoughts just bounce off each other, if only there were more hours in the day and that I could just settle down to achieve and accomplish even one of the ideas, I'd be a happy chappy.  But I'm trying and determined that the inspiration she gives me and pulls out of me will come to something, just watch this space... In the mean time she has written a post on our impending war, want to read...  Cherries ...
      I will conquer, oh yes I will, just need to find the time to turn my idea into reality, but win I will!

      ♥  Where do you get your inspiration from?   ♥

Walk and Shoot

June 18th

Remembering how to use some of the buttons on my camera,
was both fun and frustrating
Part of the joy of blogging for me is the visual element.  I have always loved taking photographs since I can remember I was even part of the photography club at uni not that you would know it or indeed I can remember anything about it! and I always thought I could take a semi decent shot.  But boy since blogging have I realised my limitations and have had my eyes opened to the world of fantastic amateur photographers that I can only dream to be. 

Aiming for the blurred background

For over a year now I have toyed with joining in on an online photography course to help with my flat lay photography,  this would be particularly useful for blogging photos, not so much for family snaps and shots but the expense has held me back. 
When a few weeks ago I stumbled upon a free, yes FREE walk and shoot in a neighbouring village where two fiendishly enthusiastic amateur competition winners and chairmen of photography clubs offered their services to walk around said Oxfordshire village and help us with our photography.  How could I resist?  I immediately signed up and then asked Phil over at the Twisted if she was able to take time out and join in too?  She could and she did, yeah! See if you can spot her in one of the photos later on.

It was a great day where by we grilled the chaps about our own cameras and use of them, talked about composition, the rule of thirds, what to look for, what to avoid.  It was fun and thankfully the weather gods were kind.  Both Phil and I learnt heaps, mostly that we need to practice more and actually get to know our cameras better.  We have both since had a little play in our back gardens as a direct result.  Hopefully the fruit of our practice will begin she hopes in vain to shine through on our blogs in the coming months.  Here I show you a selection of photos taken in an Oxfordshire village beside the Thames, enjoy...

Trying to think of photography on all levels

Aiming again for a different view, might this
be a child's view from the bridge?

Trying to create light and unusual shots


Thinking about composition

Looking for interest in all places

Close up can be more interesting

Trying to capture the moment

Instead of taking the whole house, focus on an aspect of it

Trying to catch anything  'red' we were told was good in photographs

The motley crew listening to more advice

Different angles

Diagonal lines are always interesting we were told

Me taking a picture of him taking a picture

Sharp focus

Don't always put the interest in the middle (can you spot the ladybird)

It was a beautiful village to go walk about

Through the spider's web

A touch of red for interest

One of the chaps showed us how to edit out details we are not happy with in our photos, someone piped up that it was cheating but he explained we now live in a digital world and should embrace it and that it was no longer photography per se but digital media and so altering to make the picture better was not cheating but making it the best it could be.  In one of my photos he deleted a burglar alarm from an old cottage as he said it did not suit the perfection of the composition for example.  I must admit I was in awe of this and realised how easy it must be for magazines and books to airbrush and alter images, scary yet fascinating at the same time. What are your thoughts?  All the above photos are untouched by the way...  

   Do you have any photography tips
or courses I should attend?   ♥

Crochet and cakes and a CAL

17th June

I have mentioned briefly the CAL (crochet a-long) that I am in the middle of, so far we have completed 9 of the 14 weeks and I am loving.  Last Dance on the Beach

From this CAL I am also running a crochet group where we are so far on week 5.  Thought I would share with you each of the five squares and the different cakes we have had along side.  What could be better, crochet, cake and a CAL.

Week 1

Popcorn stitch

The first crochet night fell on Norwegian
National Day, so we had to have the correct cake:

Week 2

Star stitch, it was hard to achieve the correct gauge with this

Such texture and detail

Week 2 was a Paul Hollywood triple chocolate cake

Week 3

Shells and waves if the sea, lots of front post work
on these squares this week

This was a Danish cake called Sandkage,
very similar to the  Pound Cake

Week 4

Waves for week 4, loved these squares

Also the week of our Queen's 90th birthday
so it seemed fitting to have Gin & Tonic cake

Should you be interested in this moist lemon drizzle
cake with a British twist of gin,
see post here: 

Week 5

Difficult to see but there are seagull footprints
on these squares, look closely, you may just see them

And this week we ate a Mary Berry Strawberry and Cream cake

 Sharing my 5 weeks of crochet and cake with you for  Amy   5 on Friday.
♥   Have you any cake suggestions for me?   ♥

Gin and Tonic Cake

June 12th

Gin and Tonic cake
This has been a weekend that here in the UK many of us have celebrated all that is British and are trying hard to ignore the embarrassment that is taking place in Marseille this weekend. And so out came the Gin & Tonic cake that has gone down a storm in our household.  Think Lemon drizzle cake with a twist and you won't be far off.

Gin is having something of a revival here in the UK again with this summer I see several gin tasting evenings scheduled and the supermarkets starting to roll out a huge variety of different gin houses.  This is all good news me thinks, but I still cannot get away from the bog standard and very British Gordon's.

The cake itself is incredibly moist, the end drizzle really makes a difference so don't skimp out and poke lots of fork holes in the top of the cake before you drizzle.  As is mentioned in the recipe this cake will not win you any prizes in it's looks but boy does it make up for it in taste...

The recipe I used came form the very clever and talented baker Lucy Burton from the blog Pudding Lane (as I write, the latest offering are for lavender scones, ooh quite fancy having a go at those, the lavender is just starting in my garden but I digress...)

So having just discovered Lucy and knowing that I needed to a) find a new cake recipe for my crochet class and b) that the Queen's birthday celebrations were coming up wanted to bake something British and thought a G & T cake brought with it a certain modern twist.

It's almost a store cupboard make so if you have the following in your home you are ready to begin...

4 eggs, weighed in their shells
equal weight of:
caster sugar
self-raising flour
2 lemons
8-10 shots of your favourite gin
dash tonic water (optional)
150g granulated sugar

For full instructions on how to make it see Gin and Tonic Cake

G and T cake ready to be served

Celebrating the Queen's 90th birthday
in style with Gin and Tonic cake

♥   Enjoy   ♥

Only in England

June 10th

Official merchandise from WETF
I'm tempted to jump in the old jalopy later this month and steam north towards Lincolnshire and join in the fun and games that are to be found there.  I won't be wearing my Sunday best though in fear of ruining my pride and joy nor will I wear my favourite comfortable clothes in for fear of never being able to wear them again.  What is this you ask, it's the World Egg Throwing Federation day on June 26th, mark it in the diary, book your flights, fill the car up with fuel and let's head over and see what it is all about.  World Egg Throwing Day  Some of the races include:

Egg Throwing. 
Egg Static Relay.
Egg Target Throwing
Russian Egg Roulette
Egg Trebuchet Challenge

It's all good fun and several categories are held as you can see with strict rules to be adhered to, I especially laughed at the Russian Roulette idea.  I love how bonkers and versatile this country can be. 

This week will see the UK celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday and up and down the country there will be garden parties, picnics and many different celebrations of people coming together in the name of the queen, but actually it's more like in the name of community.  Anything that brings people together for happiness gets a huge thumbs up in my book.  Our village will be having one huge picnic in the park with traditional Punch and Judy, ice creams and fair rides.  It's a day of coming together.  A snippet of photos of the Queen through out her reign can be seen here:  Elizabeth II Time line  I shall be decorating my porch and the garden with bunting and appropriate flags to show we are game on in this house for parties and fun.  Photos next week.

On a very local level again only in England, unless you tell me otherwise, our local farmer has caused quite a stir.  A field minutes from my house suddenly grew giant marshmallows over night, want to see...

Giant marshmallows?

Pink silage bales promoting Brest Cancer Now

Dave the farmer at Mays Farm in Oxfordshire decided to wrap his silage bales in pink wrap to promote Brest Cancer Now campaign and a just giving webpage was set up.  It has as I mentioned caused a lot of talk in our area and makes people wonder and smile as they drive past.  Well done Mays Farm.  Below, if it works, (hopefully) is a short clip showing how the silage is wrapped in pink.

Video clip

Intriguing sign on the road side

This brings me to my fourth UK snippet to share with you and again is local to my home.  It is still a mystery as to who wrote it or indeed who Lukas is, there are as you can expect a few rumours flying around...

And finally the sun began to shine in our neck of the woods which sent me in a kitchen frenzy to make very English food and drink...
I donned my summer apron and summer shoes
for making and baking in the kitchen

First up was elderflower cordial, my summer
favourite drink,  so easy to make
For instructions on how to make this wonderful drink, see elderflower-cordial
And then I tried my hand for the first time on Gin & Tonic cake.  Oh. My. Word. Is all I have to say about that.  Needles to say it went down an English storm and will become a firm favourite in our house.  Will post up the recipe this week end if anyone fancies a lovely moist lemon drizzle type cake with the added English benefit of gin!

Gin and Tonic Cake, delish
Sharing as always on a Friday with Amy do pop and see what others are sharing today. 
♥  Anyone for a G & T?  ♥
PS  I still cannot seem to comment on any WordPress blogs, I do read them promise, but cannot make comments, so very sorry.
PPS My Instagram is not updating on the blog since June 1st, it's still all there on IG but not transferring across, if anyone knows how to fix this solution, I would be very grateful, I'm tearing my hair out here!