Month: September 2019

Bloom 2019 – Thoughts on the Season

The light is fading earlier now and like it or now the season is changing. The annuals are giving themselves up for seed and producing very few flowers. Such is their life cycle.

As I have said many times before this growing flowers for cutting is a constant learning experience and this year I tried six new to me annuals in an attempt to flex my flower arrangers muscles.

That beauty in the photo above is Phlox ‘Creme Brulee’ and it has become a new favourite even if it wasn’t as prolific as I’d hoped. Totally my fault as I planted them out late and didn’t pinch the growing shoot to encourage branching stems. But they still gave me some blooms and lasted a long time in the vase to say they are so delicate.

Another new to me were the Malope. They are the bright pink ones in the photo above. I have tried to grow these before without success so was very pleased I got them to germinate and provide some stunning flowers. Their colour falls into that bright bright pink, similar to our native foxgloves, that is hard to capture on ‘film’ but certainly packs a zing into a vase.

Also new were Scabiosa stellata, Orlaya grandiflora and Ridolfia pictured below from their seed packets.

The scabious was great. Grown mainly for its seed heads it is so unusual and beautiful. I did use the flowers too.

So delicate. You can see the seed head emerging under the petals. I’ve saved lots of those for winter arranging.

Both the orlaya and ridifloia didn’t do so well. I only had one orlaya plant that produced blooms which was a shame as they are so lovely. The ridifolia didn’t get going at all. I’m not daunted yet though and have sown both as part of an autumn sowing experiment. I always say I’ll sow hardy annuals in September and never do but this year I did it!

The final annual I tried was another that I’ve attempted to grow before and like the malope this was the year of success. It is Delphinium Consolida perhaps better know as larkspur, the annual delphinium. As instructed on the seed packet I put the seeds in the freezer for three weeks before I sowed and at last I got about three seedlings.

Here’s a peek at an upcoming arrangement and you can see the beautiful purple stems of the larkspur off to the lower left.

They also lasted for a week in the vase so even if they are tricky to germinate I’ll be growing these again. So lovely.

I had two cutting patch beds this year plus a space out on in the kitchen garden (or allotment!) for the Dahlias and sweet peas.

I planted one of the beds in mid May, another first but I was going off to Portugal and wanted something planted so I got on with it. Much to my delight it worked great and they started producing quicker that I remember in past years. Will definitely be planting both bed as early as frost allows in 2020.

Another important factor that I always have in my mind when growing leads on from that idea of late spring frosts. The weather. It has much to do with my success or lack of success in the floral adventure. It’s just the way it is up here in the north of England. This summer has had rain and sun, heat and cold. Pretty much typical but some years it’s much cooler and others, like last year, are baking. I can’t do anything about the weather so although I know it has an impact I need to remember to get on with early planting anyway.

I have had my most productive year of dahlias yet in 2019. Still not bucket loads but a very decent crop and now I have labels tied to each stem I know what I have and can add some different colour and flower shapes next spring. Above is another photo of Cafe au Lait. She is such a beauty. Hope that tuber survives the winter but if not I’ll be buying another because it is heartbreakingly beautiful.

All in all it had been a great season of flower growing.

Still some more arrangements yet to share in the next couple of weeks and then I can start pondering Tulips and Daffodils…….

Photo a Day – Week Twenty Five, Twenty Six and Twenty Seven

Another snapshot of our days…..

Picking tomatoes and basil from the greenhouse.

A lovely sunny day and someone loving that.

At last the Cafe au Lait Dahlia flowers and she was worth the wait. Seen here with my other fav Labyrinth.

Went on an adventure to meet a friend I haven’t seen in years. Started on the bus….

Another walk to Canal Gardens.

Painted Lady butterfly. They are just as amazing with wings closed! ANd this was was getting a goo snack from the hebe flowers.

Lovely spot in the garden.

Purple daisies are back!

He’ll grab a moment in the sun whenever he can.

Real life on a beautiful late summer morning.

Beans and sunflowers and artichokes.

Crops.

This photo is like a dream come true! Been wanting to get my family to the park for a photo shoot for ages and final made it happen. I’ll be sharing more of this later this week. (and they look blurry but there aren’t so not sure why that is?)

Bee, sunflower and magical light.

I’ve decided that I shall not even resist picking these up this autumn.

Hoping for a late crop of salad.

Home made scones. Decided to make them square and not sure I’ll ever go back to messing around with cutters now!

Amazing tomato plant.

Local florist. Love looking at their displays.

The last of the eating apples and a pretty moon.

Popped outside in lovely sunshine to pick more tomatoes and got caught in a rain storm. Too refuge in the greenhouse.

And there we have it. Up to date! Yay.

Read 2019 – A Wanted Man, The Song of Achilles

I was very tempted to only post about the above book this time because it deserves its own piece of my blog.

Last year I listened to the author on an episode of the Bookclub podcast from the BBC. Over the years I have listened to many authors on this podcast and often intended to buy their books then never getting round to doing so. But this one stuck in my mind and the next time I found myself in a bookshop I bought it.

I knew it wasn’t my usual sort of book. I knew it was more literary fiction than chick lit but I was intrigued. And I may as well admit that I simply adored the film Troy……. Brad Pitt as Achilles…..I mean, come on!

Anyway this book is a re-telling of Homer’s Iliad. Told from the point of view of Patroclus, companion (and in this version) lover of Achilles in the years before and during the Trojan war.

It was simply mesmerising. Her writing is lyrical and detailed and paints the picture beautifully. Miller has worked their coming of age story into the bigger picture of the war and done it well. I fell in love with them both. You don’t have to know about Greek Mythology to enjoy this. I knew the story from my childhood, and twenty times watching Troy fixes it in your brain too, but I didn’t know all the character names and it didn’t matter I just went with it and loved it.

Makes me want to join a bookclub just so I can discuss it more. So glad I went out of my comfort zone and I can’t recommend it enough.

And now you know why I was going to just post about The Song of Achilles…..

How can the same person read both of these books? HA! That is the beauty and complexity of us humans right?

Oh Jack. Only seven left to read! Eek….. Good old action packed thriller writing. This was one of my favourites even if he did kill someone off at the eleventh hour….. By now you just know I’m a fan so I keep reading.

I’m gearing up for my holiday reads right now. Only a few weeks till we leave for the magical place and I must try and fit in a few books as well as meet Mickey and the gang!

Bloom 2019 – Dahlia Delight

I can’t believe it’s September already and almost October! The cutting patch has slowed down and I’m only picking short stemmed flowers now. But is has been a bumper year for longevity, variety and production.

The Dahlias have been good. And maybe next year I’ll get them in the ground sooner and have more blooms. I can always hope.

The dahlia that is the star in this vase is ‘labyrinth’. My fav.

Not very keen on this arrangement, too symmetrical but I like the limited flower variety and the zingy colour combo. Always learning and love doing it.

Only three other flowers to go with the dahlia. Cerinthie, calendula and centaurea ‘black ball’. And yes my Grans stool is now the only place I seem to take photos of my arrangements!

100 Day Project 2019 – 100 Adventures in Art – A Review

The 100 Day Project has come and gone for 2019. It always takes me a little while to ‘recover’ from this crafty undertaking and formulate my thoughts. While I do that here is a selection of the final 25 days.

As I neared the end of this adventure I planned out the ideas I still wanted to execute. It always helps me focus my mind if I have a plan of sorts written down. After all the ‘pinning’ I wanted to make sue I didn’t miss a style or technique off my 100.

Above day 85 and 76. Still trying out the white on black and the abstract colourful things too. I used a mask for the pink stars and applied thick paint through the mask.

Below are day 88 and 87. Colourful brush strokes on the left with watercolours and graphic tree collage on the right. Really like the paper combination on the collage.

Day 82 was watercolour trees and a heart shape cut from a previous days experiment with red and black was day 83. Always good to re-purpose those ‘mistakes’.

More of that earlier technique with acrylic paint and drawing shapes over the top for day 80.

And documenting a walk to Canal Gardens with the thistle painting for day 81. Day 78 was another heart. Always hearts!

Wanted to try the village idea again but with paint instead of marker pens for day 90. It was much harder to do than the version with markers but I love it just as much. It’s messy but quirky and I adore that oversized moon!

On the right for day 89 I tried another attempt at graphic abstract shapes.

Playing with watercolour again. Happy to have got a daisy into this collection for day 99.

 

I was inspired by a picture I saw over on Pinterest for painting 98 on the left below but I can’t find in now. This was more watercolour and I do like it. I like the translucent element that watercolour can give you and the vibrant colours.

And for day 100 I went all the way back to that technique I tried on day 5. Layers of acrylic paint.

There we have it. A snap-shot of that final days of the project.

Now to my thoughts about it all……

Looking back to my original post and considering my main objective in this endeavour, which was to hone my arty voice, the question is have I done that?

Simple answer. Nope!

I genuinely thought that I would have a better understanding of who I was as an ‘artist’ at the end of the 100 days. Perhaps that speaks volumes about how arty I actually am! Or maybe the truth is that I don’t have one style or a favourite medium. Maybe I like to try all the things! Maybe that is what I have learned about myself.

I think I’ll write that again. I like to make all the stuff. Quilting, macrame, weaving, scrapbook pages, cross stitch………. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I want to try all the arty things too.

That said though, I think that to be a ‘proper’ artist and make work that you sell you have to have a vision. You have to have a marketable style that becomes recognisable as you, right?

I think that a good idea would be to take ten of my favourites and make them again. And again, and again. Until they look, I don’t want to say perfect, until they look finished. Some of them are fine as they are and I wouldn’t want to make them differently. But some are just a little too unfinished and could be improved with practice.

Another important takeaway for me is that I now know that it’s incredibly hard to make art. Having an idea and then executing it is so tough. Knowing this means that in future when I am tempted to say ‘oh that looks easy I bet I can do that’ I’ll know that it isn’t easy and I probably can’t do it, well not to a professional level anyway. But I will probably still try all the same!

Since the project ended I haven’t painted or drawn or done anything else ‘arty’. I have been sewing a little which is all good but what I don’t want to happen is that I forget everything I learned during the 100 days. So writing this post has made me realise I need to pick up a brush and follow through with that idea of making a few of my favourites again and see how that feels and what they look like.

That’s the most amazing thing about this project. You have no idea what will happen when you commit to 100 days. That is the beauty of it. And no matter what I got out of it or think I didn’t get out of it, I can look back and know that I tried and was surprised and I love it for that reason alone.

Layout Share – Dream Like

My goodness. As I mention in my very brief journalling on the layout I have had this photograph sat waiting to be scrapped for years……. It was one of those photos that was too precious to put on the page…….. What if I hated the layout? Or the story? Or the …….

I don’t like that silly fear…… Let’s get real and remember it is only a scrapbook page and if you don’t like it print the picture again and make a new page! Writing that down so I can try and drum it into my head…

But I finally committed and made the page. And what do you know? I don’t like it. Ha, ha, ha.

But I’m ok with that.

Plus, not only am I not keen on the layout I’ve just noticed I haven’t finished the journalling or added one of the dates!

Here’s the story with those bits added –

This was the most perfect walk. I have been pondering scrapping it for many years. The snow was amazing. The streets were deserted and Buddy and I had the woods and park to ourselves. It was so quiet and peaceful. And the way the snow clung to the trees and branches was beautiful to see. A truly wonderful walk. (Ram Wood, Roundhay Park) Photo 1/12/10 – Words 2019

The thing about this story is that whatever I’d have written could not convey the memory in all its glory. I have a gut reaction when I look at the photo which takes me back to that moment. A reaction that I cannot capture in words. So in a way it didn’t matter what I wrote. Having the picture in my album will be enough to conjure that time again.

A good lesson to remember. Get the photo on the page!

Bloom 2019 – A June Arrangement

Yes I am going back in time to share this vase full of flowers from a few months ago.

And it’s bitter sweet because the vase in question, my favourite vase for medium sized flower arrangements, has since broken! I am lost without it.

Luckily my new found love of the charity shop had led me to another pretty vessel but I do miss this one.

Anyway I arranged lovely sweet williams with knautia seed heads, self sown oregano and some of the first clary from the cutting patch. Country pretty and looking great on my Grans stool.

Photo a Day – Week Twenty Two, Twenty Three and Twenty Four

A few more weeks.

Lovely scene in the garden.

Found a new to us butterfly. The Gatekeeper. So beautiful.

Raindrops on dahlia.

Lots of crop collecting going on.

The light is starting to fade earlier now. Lit a few candles to cushion that blow!

Trying to make scones. Getting better at them but still not quite as thick as shop bought ones.

The nameless pink Dahlia.

Everyday stuff.

Blue sky and yellow flowers.

More flowers in the sunlight.

Light.

Sat down and made labels for the dahlias. Maybe next year I’ll know which tuber is which.

Rock climbers.

Look forward to making our version of salad nicoise every year when the green beans are ready.

Documenting that I’m still in a t-shirt for our early morning walk.

Delicious lunch with family.

I have waited ages for this beauty. Dahlia cafe au lait. Love the bee and the bloom.

Oh yeah!

Popped in to see this cutie.

More harvests.

Playing with flowers.

And there we go. Almost up to date! Ha. I keep saying that right?

The Click Tick List – Watch 50 New to Me Films between June 2018 and December 2019

Loved, loved, loved this one. I gave some early thoughts on this film adventure over here.

All of that remains true. I continued watching, documenting and finding it hard to rate them all. But here we are at 50 and well ahead of schedule.

I’ve gone back through my comments about each film and made some stats of what I watched. Where there is more than one genre I’ve gone with the one I felt outweighed the others although sometimes the balance was 50/50.

The rating system I used changed part way through the process. Like I say I was struggling with this and Gav suggested that I use Halliwells rating system. Here is an abridged description of that system.

  • 4 stars – outstanding in many ways, a milestone in cinema history
  • 3 stars – high standard of professional excellence
  • 2 stars – generally entertaining
  • 1 star – not satisfactory as a whole
  • 0 stars – totally routine production or worse

Of course the Halliwell system had more than one critic. Content and quality of movies is very subjective so bear that in mind…. Ha!

Here is a list of all 50 –

  1. The Age of Adaline
  2. Admission
  3. Home Again
  4. Love, Rosie
  5. Queen of Katwe
  6. Elizabethtown
  7. Oblivion
  8. American Assassin
  9. Mama Mia – Here we go Again
  10. The Hit Mans Bodyguard
  11. Destry Rides Again
  12. I’ll See You in My Dreams
  13. The Nice Guys
  14. The Spy Game
  15. Now You See Me
  16. Crazy, Stupid Love
  17. Black Panther
  18. Before We Go
  19. Jack Ryan – Shadow Recruit
  20. Nights in Rodanthe
  21. Leap Year
  22. First Man
  23. The Notebook
  24. Belle
  25. Pygmalion
  26. Our Brand is Crisis
  27. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  28. One Day
  29. Love and Friendship
  30. Magic Mike
  31. The Secret Life of Pets
  32. The Limehouse Golem
  33. Summertime
  34. A Christmas Prince
  35. Holiday Calendar
  36. Bohemian Rhapsody
  37. Tomb Raider
  38. Larry Crowne
  39. The Big Short
  40. Mary Poppins Returns
  41. Hampstead
  42. Aloha
  43. The Bookshop
  44. Ready Player One
  45. Wind River
  46. Mission Impossible – Fallout
  47. Crazy Rich Asians
  48. Sweet Home Alabama
  49. Puzzle
  50. The Narrow Margin (1952 version)

Genres

  • Drama – 9
  • Romance – 12
  • Musicals – 3
  • Romantic Comedy – 6
  • Drama/Comedy – 8
  • Sci-fi – 2
  • Action – 7
  • Crime – 3

Within those something I noticed was that 4 were also biographies.

Where/how watched 

  • Netflix – 33
  • Cinema – 4
  • T.V – 4
  • Other – 9 (this included my sisters Sky)

Rating

  • 0 – 16
  • 1 – 19
  • 2 – 12
  • 3 – 3
  • 4 – 0

All that said I think my favourites for sheer entertainment value are Mama Mia, Home Again, The Nice Guys (violent but very, very funny) and Crazy, Stupid Love.

If you know me at all then you know I like happy endings so it is a miracle that lots of these did not have happy endings! It’s good to have learned that I can accept this even though my comfort zone will always be happy endings……

I’m pleased that there are some oldies in the mix too like The Narrow Margin and Summertime. Both worth a watch to see film making like it used to be done.

I also found a holiday destination while watching Nights in Rodanthe. The Outer banks in North Carolina were simply captivating in the film, a character in itself. I fell in love with the place so much that we are going to go see if it lives up the the depiction in the film when we head stateside in October!

All in all I am really glad I challenged myself to this adventure. And am pretty sure that I will do it again.

Here’s to the film watching.