Monday 30 November 2009


Sunday started well as I found a lovely package hidden in a folded up copy of the TES (Times Educational Supplement) that I had not opened until then. The paper had been folded in half and fastened with elastic bands, thus hiding the package! It contained a beautiful notebook and card from Yiota in Greece. Her blog Shells, Bells and Flowers is lovely. Thanks Yiota!
I love the stamps.
The book is full of beautiful watercolours of birds. I love it!
Later in the day we visited my brother in his new little house. It was owned by a 96 year old lady and is decorated in a 1960s/70s way. It is quite sad as lots of her things are still there-she has moved into a home now. Antony has got quite a job ahead to clear it. I really like it and took lots of pictures. So many old scenes to be preserved. There is a lovely ruin of a cast iron, boat shaped greenhouse in the garden, and a grape vine with lots of grapes. A lot of everyday household things were left behind, and I have kept some of them as the family don't want them and it seems a waste to send them to the tip. Things like an old pair of weighing scales and an enamel bread bin. Antony found a great DIY magazine from 1968 which is so interesting. I will show you some of that in the week.
I liked this. I will show some more house pictures later in the week.

Saturday 28 November 2009


I was catching up on Mary's blog today and was touched to see she had given me an award, which made me remember another award given to me ages ago by Sonia ( on my birthday in fact!) and which I failed to accept-oh no! So thank you to Sonia for the Deborah award and to Mary for the Making smiles on faces award. This is Deborah's lovely blog here. For the smile award I have to share five things about myself.
1. I thought I couldn't cook, then I could, then I couldn't again and resorted to going to McDonald's. (this happend last night-I had a complete cooking disaster (three things burnt-thick black smoke burnt) -which was most disappointing as last weekend I had nothing but cooking success.
2.When I went to McDonald's (which is pretty rare) I kept my pajama top on and wore an odd selection of other clothes-I was hungry and wanted the 'fast' aspect of fast food. It is a drive-in and it was dark. The girl who takes the orders was also the one who takes the money-I was impressed by her multi-tasking and her polite manner.
3. Every weekend recently, there has been a sunlight window in which to take photos. It is short lived and so, whatever I am doing, I stop, whip out the camera and photograph whatever I need to that week.
4. My Chinese star sign is the snake.
5. My zodiac sign is Libra and I have Virgo rising. I have endless discussions about these things with my friend Clare. It is all fascinating!

I would like to pass these awards on to lots of people but have chosen three of them today-I am usually a bit reticent to pass them on as I worry about leaving people out but I will be bold! I have chosen people I have not passed awards on to before. ( I think)
I will pass the smile award to Amy of Sweet Sweet Life as she makes me smile almost every day with her amazing showcasing of great artists. Thanks Amy!
I will pass the Deborah award to Lynne and to Janine-thanks for being my friends!
Thanks to all my friends-I love this world we share!
In other news (that phrase always pops into my head when I am writing the blog-it makes me smile somehow-as if my life is so terribly interesting!), I watched 'New Moon' this week (loved it-I am an overgrown, middle aged teenage girl! Slightly selfish Bella appears a little less selfish in the film) , a film about Marie Antoinette with Kirsten Dunst where it appeared she had just been dropped off in 17th Century France from a shopping mall somewhere in America and given the right costumes-most strange film-I quite enjoyed it though. Today I watched 'Coco Before Chanel' which was lovely-most interesting and beautiful.

Thursday 26 November 2009

Winter, Views, Make-Up and Happy Thanksgiving!

VIEW This is a view of downtown Austin, Texas. Isn't it lovely? I bought a couple of cards from the lovely Sonia and she included some other goodies, including this picture. Thank you Sonia!
The cards I bought are lovely and for a very good cause. Visit Sonia to find out more and to see her lovely work.
This is my collection of eye shadows and blushers-which mostly stay unused in their bag. I don't wear a lot of make-up, and day to day just a lip stain and a clinique soft and shimmery eye shadow. Both of these have usually worn off by about 9.30, after which I am bare-faced!
I am tempted by the pretty colours and, dare I say it, the pretty packaging. I love bourjois things in particular. The reason they are all over the table is that they were being sketched for the second to last page of the sketchbook project book. I have one more page to go, then the cover and a little index type thing and I am finished. I really enjoyed it though it will be good to have time to do other things.
I messed around with the colour, contrast and brightness of this one and really like it.

Winter, because it is finally very cold, after a long unseasonal mild patch, lulling us all into a false sense of security. I think all these pictures look wintery, unlike sunny Austin!
I worked at home this afternoon-my PPA time (planning, preparation and assessment)
I get half a day a week to cover all that-not a chance! 10 hour days, work in the evenings and Saturdays often too-gripe, gripe! This weathered looking house was on my drive home (when I waited at temporary traffic lights ('Tis the season of temp'ry traffic lights, fa la la la la, la la la la)There was no one around guarding the scary looking ladder.
This pub picture was taken later, as I was driving home from somewhere else. It is called The Bugle Horn and is in Charlton village. It looks like a coaching inn straight out of Dickens. I have never been in there though as I feel it may be slightly dodgy.
Scary night view of the woods on Shooter's Hill.
Christmas House, picture number one-as there may be more as the merry day approaches! They are big on Christmas houses round here. Andy and I have developed our own tradition of going on a night driving tour of them. Such fun! We love the moving ones the best-Santa on little trains was popular last year!
Last but not least-Happy Thanksgiving to you all-another benefit of the internet is sharing in festivals we don't celebrate here!

Monday 23 November 2009

Julie's Doll

A while ago, Julie at work approached me for doll advice. Not many people there know I make dolls, only really my nursery colleagues who are very nice about the ones they have seen! Julie wanted to make a doll for her friend-more a stuffed kind of toy I suppose. I told her how I make cloth dolls and rattled on about it for a while. She listened and went off to think about it. A little while later she came back to me and just asked me to make it for her! This is her initial sketch idea. She wanted it to have three heads, be in the colours of the Jamaican flag, and portray the proverb Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.
Below is my sketch-and, contrary to my usual approach, I did actually follow it pretty much exactly!
I wanted to make it stand on its own, so I made it with a flat bottom and weighted it with ceramic cooking beans.
I got the idea for the shape of the heads from Junker Jane, (artist Catherine Zacchino), who's dolls I love. I like their square heads and I love her use of fabric.
I felt a bit bad about the see no evil head, so I made his blindfold seeable through!
The three wise monkeys commonly associated with the proverb. I can't do monkeys, hence the square heads! I have had this little plastic version since I was a child. It was given to me by my Gran. My favourite thing on the doll is the button headphones!
It was fun having a mini commission. Julie's friend liked it apparently.

Saturday 21 November 2009

Book Doll, Shadow Shot Sunday and Clowns

I have finished the book doll. I called her Muse as I felt very inspired to make her and it happened easily. Sometimes, even if enjoyable, making things can be hard so it is lovely when it is not! There are shadows here and more to come! Visit Hey Harriet for more shadows.
I decided not to paint her at all as I like the writing and scraps of picture. She looks more as if she has a nose in real life than in the picture. I used a Russian text book on her dress, cut out eyes and mouth from the same photo in a Sunday supplement, a cut out necklace, and brown paper from Anne's envelope on her arms. The flowery part of her dress is from birthday wrapping paper. Her hair is the same packaging shredded paper that I used for Edna's skirt. The cover of the book is a stamp from Candace.
Earlier, I went outside to take something back to the shed. The garden is so messy-I have not done anything to it for about a year and it shows. I swept up loads of leaves and pulled up a few weeds. I noticed some fungi growing in a pot with Rosemary in it. I picked a piece to have a look. It has a beautiful structure underneath-which reminded me a little of the book doll's skirt!
I have also been trying to finish the poor clown doll. I have made him a jacket, jumper and now tiny trousers-which are far too short-the hazards of being too lazy to measure properly.
I was quite negative about clowns a while ago here and since then keep coming across lovely images of them, not looking at all disturbing or sad. Clowns have got together to prove me wrong! This picture is from a magazine last Sunday and is from work by an artist called Paolo Ventura. His work is amazing-he has created the life of a fictional Italian clown through painting, model making and creating miniature sets then photographing the whole thing. It is called Winter Stories. There is a limited edition book which I would love-perhaps I will save up!
This clown looks so sweet. He is not at all disturbing and looks very happy. This harlequin lady is from the vintage ephemera site I mentioned the other day. I love her dress and her collar.

Friday 20 November 2009

Things I noticed today and more about the book doll

How most of the products I use around the house and on myself such as shampoo, face wash, moisturizer and cleaning products often come in pump bottles. As if people have lost the ability to squeeze. This is the kind of thing I think about when I am too tired to do harder thinking such as is required by the list of work I have to do. Maybe tomorrow. A sunflower head emptied of its seeds by gravity, birds and children. The sunflowers are all over now and, all of a sudden, lots of the kids were desperate to plant the seeds. I got pots and trowels and off they went. The stalks make quite good weapons too. A little intervention was needed there!
How yellow these crab apples are. These make good aiming devices.
How tangled this rose is. I wanted some hips to put in a vase but they are a bit sparse. It is still flowering though.
The prettiness of this dolls house door. They make me thing of Charleston or New Orleans-not that I have ever been there but they just do. I put three big dolls houses out today as we were a bit bored with the trainset. These are all donated by parents-we have two more in the cupboard. It is great having so many as you can have a mini street and lots of children can play together. I love the tiny world of dolls houses and I could see that look of fascination at the magical little world inside them on lots of faces today.
These wooden toys are pretty old but I think they are great. I wondered what situation was developing here.
As I am writing I am having a glass of wine. It is an Australian riesling. I notice that it tastes like basil-really strongly. It is strangely pleasant and went well with my vegetable based tea!
The first stage of folding.
Gluing the back on with the help of some pumpkins. I think it is finished-I say I think as I am not sure whether to add any paint or other colour. I will wait till daylight!
I celebrated tidying up the area next to the draining board by lighting some candles!
The last two things I remember noticing today were the delicious scent of a couple of rosemary plants I bought for school (along with 160 daffodil bulbs for Forest School and the nursery garden) and the equally lovely smell of the Christmas trees hiding at the back of the DIY store. It was as if they were all waiting quietly for things to really get going. I wish I could blog smells!

Thursday 19 November 2009

Doodly Faces

I phoned my Dad. Then my Mum. I doodled faces. This sketchbook has such lovely paper-it has little ridges in it like expensive writing paper. It is lovely to draw on with anything soft. The paper feels soft too.
Girl number one looks a bit 70s to me. Girl number two is futuristic and girl number three is a cat!
I have been doing my book doll tonight and she is nearly finished. I had forgotten how I really like papier mache-such sticky fun!

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Post Post And Other Things

Tuesday is Forest School day at the moment. I still have not quite finished all my course work and I have not been observed doing a session yet. This was due to be done next week but has been cancelled because my assessor has not been assessed to be an assessor yet! Nevertheless, Forest School is my favourite session of the week-the children love it and so do the adults. Today we planted some trees that one of the teaching assistants won. We were filthy-it was great! I think I could send that group out on their own to plant trees now and they would know what to do. My favourite thing was seeing them gently firming down the soil around the little trees-they were so careful. Fingers crossed that they grow! I got home about half six to find exciting post. Two packets of felting wool and a lovely sheep postcard from Anne of Frayed At The Edge-we met in the summer. I love surprises in the post so thank you Anne! I am thinking about what to make. The next piece of exciting post was this postcard-from myself via America. (Thanks Candace for the stamp!) It is the acknowledgement of receipt of Perdita by Art Doll Quarterly. At least I know she got there ok and I will get her back one day! Now fingers crossed that they like her!
This is the latest doll I have started. The idea comes from a couple of sources. Years ago I saw an article on this amazing artist who makes sculptures out of books by folding them. I had a go on an old copy of Sense and Sensibility-it is up on the book shelf. This one is a book I bought in Scotland recently on football coaching. I liked the illustrations and the cover. I like it even more now as the middle of the skirt. The other place I got the idea from was a picture of a doll with a folded paper underskirt. (Picture a long way down in this post)I am going to use papier mache to make the body and head. I used to do quite a lot of papier mache and feel like having another go.
The adult sized chair in the nursery garden. Ancient but quite comfy. I came upon this carefully placed collection of wooden bricks on it today and liked the effect. I don't know who put them there though!
C. in my class rushed over to get me this afternoon. She wanted to show me this. Bees are very attracted to our bright yellow slide, and often stop to clean themselves or soak up the sun. We watched this one for a while before it flew off.
One more thing-I have nearly finished my sketchbook for the sketchbook project-only three more pages to go!

Monday 16 November 2009

Simple Things

Christina of Soul Aperture has invited people to share
some of the simple things that make them happy.
Thanks Christina!
Here are a few of mine in pictures. Tiny people on mushrooms. (Mushroom from Milly in Holland-thank you Milly!)
Beautifully simple Christmas decoration ideas in Country Living Magazine.
People watching.
Tiny things.
Tiger paws.
Stormy skies.
Sunshine on a rainy day(like in the song!)Beachcombing.
Cosy fires.
And an empty laundry basket!