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The Click Tick List – Have my Hand Painted in Henna

This one sounded easy but after a little research it turned out to be more of a challenge.

Although I had found places that did the ‘tattoo’ they were not using traditional henna. A genuine henna tattoo is orange-brown but all the ones I was seeing were black. Apart from the fact that the black ones do not, in my opinion, look as good as the real ones, the added ingredient to make it black can cause irritation to the skin and in some cases leave scars. I didn’t want that so I put this one on the back burner.

I’m not sure why it popped back into my head before we left for Disney but I’m glad it did becasue a quick search online informed me that the Morocco Pavillion in Epcot’s World Showcase offered genuine henna tattoos! Hooray.

In the photo above it looks very dark but you can see a little of the lighter colour where the paste has dried and fallen off. Basically the henna paste is applied it then dried after about 20 minutes and over the course of the next day the paste falls off revealing the pattern that the dye has left behind.

It does look a bit odd and you have to be careful of the paste that has fallen off because if it gets wet it will still stain clothes, towels etc. I was also advised not to pick off the paste but let it fall off on its own. That was hard but I did as I was told!

And I simply loved it. It felt like something slightly crazy to do and so unlike me. Well, maybe unlike me. Lol. I mean I did it right?

It began to fade after about eight days, that’s the photo above. And today, two weeks later, only the faintest trace remains.

So glad I did this. I’d definitely do it again, maybe my whole hand next time.

Bloom 2019 – Golden

Okay so the arrangement isn’t golden but boy the vase is. A charity shop find and a perfect vase for flowers. Thought I better get sharing the last of these arrangements as summer is a distant memory now!

Cosmos, white and pink salvia and beautiful dahlia labyrinth. A lovely explosion of pink and white.

I was thinking about lifting the dahlias this weekend but the weather has been too rainy. Hope to get them done soon though and label them up properly for storage….. I can but hope.

Photo a Day – Week Twenty Eight and Twenty Nine

But before any adventuring photos a few from my daily photo series.

Produce!

Lovely purple aster complete with raindrops and sunlight.

Cooking apples ripening nicely.

Took a walk to Canal Gardens. Lots of textures going on.

Sun-flares.

The screen says it all! What a fantastic night.

My take on a healthy bowl lunch with homemade hummus.

Another walk. This time around the garden at Harlow Carr.

Raindrops again but this time on that beautiful shrub Cotinus coggygria.

Gav was sizing up a new building project. Oh no not more building work…….lol!

Winter foliage coming along.

Love to document the garden from this spot. I must try and do a scrapbook layout about the changing seasons with some of the past photos.

Light.

Lovely breakfast out with friends. This was a spicy bean and egg dish.

And there we go.

Been Adventuring

The weeks slipped away and all of a sudden we’re back from our holidays and I didn’t write a single blog post! It was a full on fun packed couple of weeks in Disney World and a quick road trip to South and North Carolina. I’ll be back soon with stories of crossing things off the click tick list and our adventures!

Bloom 2019 – Shades of Pink

Another vase full of flowers and this time a punchy pink one. Just looking at this arrangement from a few weeks ago make me realise that there is still so much to explore in this hobby of mine.

Mood for example. I have concentrated on the shape of my arrangements, pushing that creative boundary without giving much thought to mood for these past few years. Mainly because I use what I have, what I grow. I don’t trot off to the florists and buy anything even when I see stunning arrangements on Instagram filled with romantic roses! (I think it’s time to buy rose bushes…..)

And to be honest I am always rather pleased with my arrangements especially this year where I feel at last I have a better understanding of the lopsided vaseful!

Anyway here is an almost lopsided one filled with the nameless pink dahlia, cosmos, malope, salvia, antirrhinum and a few touches of white with scabious and ammi. I also added in some sweet pea stems. And yes this is going back to when my fav vase was still in one piece!

I love having these insights and the opportunity to keep learning and growing…… oh dear bad pun!

In the Frame – A Family Photo Shoot

Back today to share some of the photos from that family gathering.

We started out at my sisters house. Here I am with my niece and great niece testing the shot!

Look at those two so cute!

The sun was against us in the garden as the best backdrop, those bushes, meant we were facing the sun and therefore squinting! I coached them all on trying not to squint but it’s so hard!

Even I’m doing it! But I love this photo because not only did the cat make it into the shot, hello Tigger! But my Mum is there too. She didn’t make it to the park.

Unfortunately my favourite wall was also in direct sunlight. But they wanted to give it a go……

Harsh light and squinting! So we moved.

Here they are getting ready…

But not before some antics. There in the background a two year old swinging from a tree! SHe was very pleased with herself.

My sister caught me directing things….

I love that photo. In full bossy mode.

The the bandstand became free so we moved again! I set up the camera, popped it on timer and let it take some shots while they gathered.

I like it even blurry.

We tried moving inside and standing differently.

Too dark but look at that little girl smiling away.

And although I think it looks a little strange with my nephew staring off out of the shot I love that my sis and niece are looking at each other. These are the gems.

More antics…

You can just see feet sticking up over the back of the seat!

And then the boys thought they could lift H up…

Which they could.

All in all blurry or in focus these are a great collection of pictures and memories of a fun filled hour together.

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!