Sunday, 28 November 2010

even winterier woollies................

Although my last posting had today's date, I actually wrote it on Friday and the winter army has advanced significantly since then.  A great deal of snow fell on Friday night and yesterday was extremely cold then it snowed through the night and continues to do so as I write.  We have also had lots of thunder and lightning and many areas have lost their power supply,  AND it's only November! 

I don't mind the snow, but I feel very uneasy in thunder storms and the dogs get terribly agitated and nervous.  I think collies are particularly bad in these situations and they're also terrified of fireworks so at Guy Fawkes we all huddle in the kitchen with the wireless turned up to drown out the screaming and banging of squibs going off in the village.  It's amazing how the noise travels and the dogs' hearing is so much more sensitive than ours.

We were in Perth yesterday for an afternoon of talks organised by the Perth Burns Club in the A.K.Bell Library.  What an interesting afternoon it was, covering a range of topics including  storytelling through tales and ballads, the history of the lowland pipes, the poetry of Robert Fergusson and the Scottish Enlightenment.  

We had overlooked the fact that this weekend is a celebration of light in Perth and wandering through the town later, we discovered that various choirs were performing in the concert hall so we decided to stay on and listen to some of the singing.  It was all very festive with whisky cocktails being handed out and amazing interactive light shows bouncing off the concert hall walls.  Dominating the auditorium was this amazing moon made from thousands of lightbulbs and casting an ethereal light over the performers.

winter woollies.............

Snow has fallen and the world looks like a big Christmas card!  We have escaped the worst of the weather so far but no doubt our share will come.  When does winter officially begin?  We were talking about this yesterday and thought it would be the 1st of December or perhaps the 21st of November.  Anyway it certainly feels and looks like winter now!  

This bright, still, weather is great  for photography and the sunsets too are amazing at this time of year.  We had lunch with friends today and afterwards I spent some time in their gorgeous garden taking photographs.  The sun was low, the snow was sparkling, and there were lots of lovely seed heads and spiky plant shapes.  One particularly spectacular teasel will probably end up in some of my cards!

Last night we got together with some friends in our local pub to play tunes and sing songs.  It was a spur of the moment idea, but these are often the best and it was a lovely evening.  It's a good time of the year for doing these things as those of us who do a lot of outdoor work tend to be more available in the winter evenings.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Winter Festival

Tomorrow, Saturday the 20th, is Winter Festival day in the new hall at Balkeerie.  This is the first event to be held in the new hall and I'm really looking forward to seeing it when I go along tonight to set up my stall.

The festival runs from 10am - 4pm and there will be a wide variety of stalls selling lots of lovely things for Christmas.  There will also be live music throughout the day provided by various local musicians, and tea, coffee, cakes and snacks will be on sale.  I'm sure it will be terrific fun as a tremendous amount of work has gone into organising it and it's so exciting to finally have the hall ready for use after all the years of fundraising.

I will be selling my cards, felted brooches and scarves and some vintage linen.  I'll also have my little bags of vintage buttons which are always popular.

I've also designed some new cards which will be on sale for the first time and as they feature a well known local landmark I'm hoping they'll appeal to the customers.

Kinpurnie Hill from the Myreside  i

Kinpurnie Hill from the Myreside  ii

Kinpurnie Hill from the Myreside  iii

Kinpurnie Hill from the Myreside  iv

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

frost, firewood and fig cake................

Although yesterday was bright and sunny, the frost didn't lift from the shady spots behind the hedges and I took lots of photographs of sparkly leaves and silvery spears of grass.  

Stocking up with firewood is a major job at this time of year and fortunately we have quite a lot of wood on the farm although some of it is not particularly accessible. We don't have central heating, and the woodburning stove in the kitchen and a little open fire in the sitting room are our main sources of heat so it's essential that we have a steady supply of good, dry firewood.  At the moment  we have quite a lot of dead elm which burns well and we're about to start sawing up some good big beech limbs.

The sun made a brief appearance this morning before slinking off to leave a very damp, grey, gloomy day.  I decided to have a big baking session as there's nothing nicer on a day like this than a warm kitchen full of lovely baking smells. 

The staple fruit cake in our house is smiddy loaf which is made by boiling up dried fruit, mixed peel, oil, spices, sugar and water  and leaving it for a couple of hours for the fruit to plump up before adding the flour and eggs, so first of all I prepared a big pan of that mixture and while it was standing I made a batch of soda bread.  I have a favourite basic soda bread recipe and sometimes I vary it by adding linseed, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds or pumpkin seeds.  I made four loaves as they freeze very well and I like to make good use of the oven space!

I also made a couple of marmalade and poppy seed loaves with an orange drizzle topping.  The recipe is for one 2lb loaf, but I made two 1lb loaves instead as again, they freeze well and a smaller loaf takes less time to defrost.

I also tried out a recipe from the current issue of Country Homes & Interiors.  It's a Fig and Cinnamon Cake,  and although we haven't tasted it yet, it looks and smells very good.  

This may seem like an enormous amount of cake, but we do get a lot of friends dropping in and a lovely slice of home made cake with a mug of tea  is one of life's great pleasures.


Saturday, 13 November 2010

Saturday sunset...........

After a long, late, lazy lunch at Mervat's we came home to take the dogs out and were just in time to capture this spectacular sunset.  It lit up the whole sky and the silhouettes of the trees and hedges looked wonderful.  It didn't last long however, and the air became very chilly as the sun finally disappeared. 

It's an evening for staying cosy at home and catching up with the newspapers and magazines.  There is always so much to read and the December issues of my favourite magazines are full of lovely Christmas recipes and masses of  interesting features.  I've also just spotted that there's going to be a Debussy recital from the 2009 Edinburgh Festival on Radio 3 in five minutes time so really must go now!  

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

lazing on a sunny, autumn afternoon..........

Well not quite lazing, but certainly dawdling and dilly dallying because it was so spectacularly beautiful that I  kept stopping to take photographs much to the dogs' disgust as they were desperate to get on with their walk but they somehow seem to feel that they should stop every time I do!  We had a lovely walk and the sun was just disappearing as we reached home which was at about four o'clock.  It's very cold now and we probably have a frosty night ahead. 

I have treated myself to Angie Lewin's new book Plants and Places which is beautiful and  very inspiring.  It is full of her stunning prints and she has also included some of her preliminary sketches which are works of art in themselves!  Many of her prints incorporate seedheads, teasels, alliums and thistles in woodcuts and linoprints and I love the colours she uses which have a decidedly retro, sort of 50's feel to them.

Angie Lewin lives in Norfolk, but she also has a cottage near Ben Rinnes in Morayshire and several of her prints are inspired by Speyside.  We climbed Ben Rinnes a few years ago and it's a lovely hill with magnificent views.

the silver birches look lovely and wispy as they lose the last of their leaves

well done Katie and Lisa!

Katie has just announced on her blog that over £1800 was raised at the Handmade & Vintage Fair at Kinrossie!  This money goes to the Help for Heroes charity and Katie and Lisa must be absolutely delighted as they put a huge amount of work into organising and promoting the event.  The fair was tremendous fun and there was a lovely, jolly, festive atmosphere throughout both days with lots of friends meeting up and starting their Christmas shopping.   You can visit Katie's blog (Vintage Squirrel - link from here) to see photographs of the event.

Monday, 8 November 2010

stormy weather...........

It is wild, wet and windy and our lovely copper and gold clad birch trees are fast becoming stark, skeletal shapes as the leaves are stripped from their branches by the storm.  The dogs hurtle around in the wind, excitedly snuffling the leafy piles before rushing back into the kitchen to be rubbed dry and resume their positions by the stove.  

Recent blog-neglect is due to the fact that I was furiously preparing for the Handmade and Vintage Fair in Kinrossie last Friday and Saturday.  The fair, which was organised by my friends Katie and Lisa, was held in aid of the Help for Heroes charity and I think everyone agreed that it was a huge success.  It was lovely to see so many friends and there was a very jolly atmosphere with live music in the background and teas being served by the local W.R.I.  There was a wonderful selection on offer including soaps, tweed handbags, ceramics, jewellery, hand painted furniture and masses of pretty homewares and accessories.

My cards went well, especially the Christmassy ones and I also  took along my hand felted "hedgerow" scarves and Magical Myreside brooches.  I sold quite a few originals, so the paints will be out again to create some new works for the ENCKA Christmas Fair on November the 20th.  This will be the first event in the new hall and we're all looking forward to it. 

shepherds  i 

winter trees  iv
Here are two of my little mixed media collages which I mount on 5"  square cards.