A season of hope

mini quilt and daffodils

I have noticed a pattern – usually beginning in November and lasting until March, a sense of sadness and lack of enthusiasm for creativity, if I was a bear I would curl myself up and sleep through those dark months. The sunrise back in February was around quarter to eight, but now, thankfully it is rising at six twenty; this means it is easier for me to wake up in the mornings and I am sensing a shift of energy. That is why I am most grateful for the humble daffodil – a vase of badly needed sunshine alongside the promise of spring.

Cherry blossom and blue skies

It has been a struggle these last few weeks, where monochrome skies made the sun a distant memory and drizzling rain that seeps into the clothing making me damp and cold. However, just a few short days of blue skies and sunshine and my mood lifts. On my daily walk I spotted this glorious cherry, nestled among the other bare branches it was a delight – I like to stand for quite a few moments and relish the delicate flowers. Other people walking the park ignore me, even though I do feel as if I am looking like a mad woman, but these small acts of noticing really lift my spirit – now my behaviour has a legitimate title of ‘mindfulness’. I think all artists are just sensitive thin skinned souls who have a desire to sense things deeply, be that listening to birdsong or observing the colour variations on cherry blossom. New technology means I usually have my cameraphone at hand, but pictures really don’t capture the detail as beautifully as the naked eye.

daffodils in spring

Each year our park has a river of daffodils – a sight that is beautiful and fleeting – its one of the highlights in the season. Knowing its time is brief I like to stop and enjoy the view, the whole river is about 90m in length – the planting would have been quite a task – so I offer thanks to the park keepers and the local council. I feel a sense of rhythm, now that I have lived here for a few years, the daffodils and the Elder are always the first to show themselves and one by one the trees wake up – the beeches being the most reluctant but then I know Summer is here. I also notice the firs are dropping their cones right now – I can’t believe it has taken me this long to realise why I never find them in Autumn. I come home from my walks with bounties of these lovely wooden flowers stored up for winter decoration. I believe Spring and Autumn feature so heavily in my mind because it signifies a change, Autumn is about snuggling down for winter and Spring is all about waking up!

I am a fan of drinking out of bone china – as well as leaf tea made in a tea pot. The only problem with that is you either make a pot of tea that goes cold before you can drink it all, or you make tea in the tea cup using an infuser but you only get a thimbleful. I decided to seek out a thermal tea pot, using these not only would keep the pot of tea hot, but it is more environmentally friendly as I wouldn’t be putting the kettle on too much. After a good trawl through the internet, I found various insulated pots but none of them appealed to me. In the end I looked at insulated flasks leading me to this insulated jug – I love the shape and colour! It works, I made a whole pot of tea and it was still warm four hours later!

from an unknown colouring book source

Ask me to sit and meditate and I will last about thirty seconds, ask me to stitch and I will sit for hours enjoying the mindful meditation that comes when hand stitching! This is the latest stitch project. I used a colouring book page from Pinterest, (sadly could not find the source, if you know it please let me know so I can give due credit) I adapted it slightly but what attracted me mostly was the beautiful design on the lady’s jacket. I also played with basket weave stitch, the technique improving as I moved further up the basket!

Surface design -using crayons

Our monthly workshop was about creating your own fabric designs onto white fabric. I explored the backgrounds using a ‘brass rubbing’ technique with crayons onto a large stamp – then I used a hare stamp which is absolutely delightful. The process was enjoyable and I will post on Made for mii about the process.

inspiration from Pinterest

I came across this beautiful piece on Pinterest, it is from Danielle Roothooft it is one of those pictures where again, I can happily stare at for a good few moments, there are so many beautiful pictures of her work on the site, it is well worth a visit.


Alice Hoffman – book reviews

I have Lovely and Grateful to thank for bringing this author to my attention, I adored the film of this book – the beautiful house by the sea, the cosmetic business, it all seemed so wonderful. Yet the film is a mishmash of the two books, Practical magic and the Rules of Magic.

Alice Hoffman is a wonderful writer, I loved practical magic so I thought I would step away from the Owens ladies and read a few of Hoffman’s other novels, and I am so pleased I did. I ended with the Rules of Magic and the two books are along a similar vein they feel like the teenage fiction I read when I was 14, which was like returning to my teenage self.

These are teenage coming of age stories, all the characters are overshadowed by fate, they can never fall in love. But in all honesty, the question is do we allow pre-conceptions to shape our lives or do we set our own course? I loved practical magic but the rules of magic just seemed to be way too long and short on action. Probably why I decided to take a break from this author after reading rules of magic: but thankfully, I read two other novels of Hoffman in between and I can see how much this writer’s talent and ability grew and why Hoffman is an author I will be following closely.

sheer genius

I read faithful after Practical Magic – oh my goodness the two could not be more different, Faith is a richer, deeper tale beautifully written and completely uplifting.

She was disappearing inch by inch, vanishing into thin air, and then one day a postcard arrived . . . There was no return address, no signature, only a scrawled message: Say something.

Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl growing up on Long Island until one night a terrible road accident brings her life to a halt. While her best friend Helene suffers life-changing injuries, Shelby becomes overwhelmed with guilt and is suddenly unable to see the possibility of a future she’d once taken for granted.

But as time passes, and Helene becomes an almost otherworldly figure within the town, seen by its inhabitants as a source of healing, Shelby finds herself attended to by her own guardian angel. A mysterious figure she half-glimpsed the night of the car crash, he now sends Shelby brief but beautiful messages imploring her to take charge of her life once more . . .

What happens when a life is turned inside out? When you lose all hope and sense of worth? Shelby, a fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookshops, and men she should stay away from, captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding oneself at last. This spellbinding, poignant and life-affirming story of one woman’s journey towards happiness – and the power of love, family and fate.

(Amazon listing)

It took me a while to relate to Shelby – but after the first couple of chapters I was hooked, this is a story of hope and redemption – and how small acts of kindness can be someone’s anchor. I adored this novel, the end is so satisfying and uplifting that I ended up with a bit of a book hangover. Its as if Alice Hoffman’s writing reaches new depths and heights. I loved it.

This book is like the title Extraordinary, set in the early 1900s – The museum is human curiosities, those people born different – webbed fingers, conjoined twins, dwarfs – at a time when it was acceptable to see these people as items of interest. There is also a lot of background history to New York and workers rights.

I can thoroughly recommend it to you, it is a delight.

ttfn x