Friday, October 21, 2016

Winter Wonderland and Joy De Vie

Hi everyone. I'm so sorry I'm such a bad poster.  I have been reading all your blogs and have been feeling ashamed at the lack of creativity coming from my little corner of Ireland but all that is going to change now!

So: lots to share.  Hmmm what's first.

Well, Holmsey's second book, 'Can I be a Hare?' is nearly ready to be published..the illustrator is working hard on the pictures.  Here, I'll show you why they take so long.

This is the size of the finished picture.

HUGE.  The illustrator works so hard on them.  This is an original piece of the artwork from the fist book.

This is a photo of how one of the pictures is worked on in the second book.

The first side is what is cut out: and then the fabrics are layered and painted...the detail is just miraculous. Paula Hickman is a genius.

And yes, it seems there may be baby bunnies in my next story....OMG aren't they just sooooo cute????

Gorgeous.  I'm so blessed to have been lucky enough to have this experience.

My baby brother came and visited me from the UK for a long weekend.  My younger brothers are identical twins and I love them to bits.  They tower over me now but they will always be my baby bros.

I was ill getting over the flu when he came over but we managed a great day out.

We took him towards our favourite beach in Sligo, far from the tourist crowds.

We had to stop at our wonderful warrior who protects Connacht from the evil hoards!

Then we wondered up to Glencar Waterfall and lake...a moment of romance for my wonderful husband and I.

And a moment of pure fun with my granddaughter.

I love that wee baby more than life itself..she is a real cutie.

They've gone home now but we will hopefully see them at Christmas.

I have not stopped giving up challenges.  I was challenged to go on the back of a motorbike.  I hate motorbikes. They are scary.  It took me three years to learn to ride a pedal bike..I knew the second the person holding me up let me go: they let go, I dropped my legs.  I'm a really scardy cat.

My neighbour has classic motor bikes and he offered to take me up the road for a few miles on pillion.

I agreed though if I'm honest I was bricking it.

My two sons were here watching me and I had to do it.  The whole point of this is to teach my children to not be afraid of trying new things and to never give up just because life can be dark and hard.

So here I am. Proof I did it lol

Scary mad dangerous things they are rofl.  I did enjoy it after a while but I'm sure I would do it again.  We'll see.  I did the day after chemo after no sleep for 48 hours because of the sterioids.  I'm surprised I could even hold on, my bloods were dropping so fast!

But I did it. Another fear conquered.

Crafting wise I've nearly finished crocheting a cardi for my little was easy until I got to the final trim which is all technical and I've never done the stitch before but again, I refuse to be beaten.  I love crochet and its ok to pick up and put back down when I'm not feeling so good. It's much easier than I can with knitting.

I have been doing some cross stitch.  The first part of Holmsey's Winter Wonderland has been stitched and I enjoyed every stitch of it.

I've never designed a badger before..I was quite proud of myself!

It's been model stitched on Polynesium linen from Chromatic Alchemy and it's my new favouritist fabric ever!

It will be released on the 1st of November, the next one in December and the one after that in January. The panels can be stitched individually and turned into pinkeeps or flatfold or even little cushions.  Or as one picture which is what I will be doing.

Health wise I'm good, I finished my chemo yesterday. Seriously, 18 chemos over 6 months, three weeks on and one week off...I feel like I've run a marathon.

I get next week off, a cat scan the week later and then a meeting with my oncologist the week after that.  I'm glad to get a few weeks off.  A few weeks of normal.  We spent the 6 months remodelling the house. We now have a proper bathroom..with a lovely big bath and the halls have been decorated and painted and I decorated all my kitchen as well.

I'm looking forwards to some time doing things I enjoy. The tiredness and chemo low should wear off by Tuesday and then I get some normal life, until the next lot of tests.  I feel ok at the moment and that is all anyone can hope for.  Today is a good day.

Now,where did I put that crotchet?

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Happiness is.....very long and p/h

I've come to believe that what we put into life is exactly what we get out of it. 

Traditional Chinese philosophy assumes that life is tough; it's hard but sprinkled amongst the hardships are trickles of happiness which we need to grab hold of and make the most of.

In the Western world we seem to assume the opposite: that we have a given right to happiness as much as having a right to the air we breath.

And I wonder, is this a healthy attitude to have? We seem to want more and more and expect more and more and then we crumble when bad things happen or we feel we haven't succeeded in having a life full of bliss and joy.

I've experienced this sense of failure myself with my diagnosis and prognosis. I went through crumbly bits: my big pants not only fell down but my naughty dogs ran away with the elastic in a game of tug which resulted in my big girl pants being down far too long!  Brrrrrrrr, draughty!

And even before the return of the cancer, I spent days being afraid.  Dreading test results, worrying about it coming back. What a waste of life hey?

Bizarrely, I'm not afraid any more.  After all what more can it do to me? But I look back and I know fear cost me valuable time.  Fear sucks.  Literally, it drains every little bit of colour in your life and turns light into dark.

But it's ok now.  I'm not afraid anymore. I won't see a lot of things that I thought I might: children getting married, grand children starting school etc, ...but if I dwell on this then  I take away the value of the things I have seen, that I have been part of. I've had an amazing life and it isn't over yet!

I guess I've just decided I won't be a victim any more. I will get bad results. I will get bad news but right now, at this exact moment in time, I'm ok.  I'm good.  I'm happy with my lot.  It may not be what I ultimately hoped for or expected but by taking this 'in the now' approach, I'm finding joy in the most amazing of things. 

For example, I had to give up my gardening and it broke my heart. Seeing an empty poly tunnel and watching how rapidly my ex-field reverted back into a field was soul crushing. Ten years of work gone in a single spring.  On a plus, I'm hoping to start exports of dock leaf eco-friendly loo roll soon!

I decided I had two choices...see the failure I perceived, or make something good come from it. So I chose the latter.  A box of wild flower seeds chucked all over resulted in this.

A little bit of my Norfolk childhood in a wild Irish garden!

The cancer will  ultimately destroy my body but I'm dammed if I will let it destroy my life.
I'm basically becoming a giant boob which is kind of funny really if you have the same warped sense of humour I have, but I will not let becoming a boob destroy my hope, my joy of life, the love I have for those around me.

So, that tells cancer!

Now for some more niceness. 

I think I've said before, I don't have a bucket list.  I've achieved everything I ever wanted to so don't feel the need to add things to my life to make if feel fulfilled. I do however have an attitude that if something comes up that I haven't done before or that reflects something I've loved or enjoyed, then I will go for it.  Don't get me wrong, these aren't things I feel I HAVE to do before my use by date comes up but they are things I want to do. If I never do them, it won't may any difference to me. I guess it is a bit like knowing the difference between want and need.  I might want to do these things but I sure as heck don't need to.

And this is no different to the attitude I had before cancer.  I leapt at every opportunity life threw at me and that is why I have had a life well lived.

So what have I been up to?  Well, bizarrely, I have a huge love of trains and trams.  I think it stems back from being from Norfolk but having to live in Manchester as a child.  To visit family in Norfolk in the 1970's and early 80s we had to catch a train...sometimes two.  And we loved those train rides.  I still love sitting on a train and just watching the world pass by.

Moving to Ireland I was introduced to the Luas trams in Dublin.  I could quite happily sit on one all day.  You see 'real' Dublin, get to meet 'real' Dubliners and they provide an amazing opportunity for people watching. 

I mentioned this on fb and a friend in Norfolk, Jo,  contacted the Dublin Luas company, who in turn contacted me and guess what???  They gave me a tram for the day! My own tram!  It was amazing.  My hubby and I got to have a tour of the Luas headquarters.  We had a tram with our name on the front.  Rather cheekily they also gave me two security guards, a lovely gentleman who conducted the tour and a driver of our own.

We were then treated to a trip through Dublin, from Red Cow to The Point.  Then we had lunch and were driven all the way back again.  OMword.  Def a high point in my life.  I know, it seems a bit sad and geeky to some of you but I don't care! Toooot toot!!!!

Ready for the off!

In the control room

In the maintenance shed

With my very own security guards

Can you see what I see?

Yup!  My own tram!

Be afraid!

My wonderful driver and guide.

Lunch at a hotel where they actually had live ivy growing up inside by the escalators

A full wall size painting of some Irish singer/band or the other ;-)

A sheep in the lobby, waiting for lunch

I have absolutely what these bears represent, but they were worth a photo op!

And back in the hotel room:happy but shattered!
It was an amazing day.

The new Holmsey book is coming along beautifully.  Paula Hickman of Bear Tails Illustrations
has finished several of the illustrations and has shared one with Holmsey's friends.

It's stunning isn't it?  I love it. Holmsey looks amazing.  The book 'Can I Be A Hare?' will be released soon!

It's been an education, this book writing stuff.  I know for sure that I will never, ever sell through Amazon and other alternative book selling companies.  The attitude they have towards writers and the money they skim off sales etc, are to my mind purely unethical.

I prefer to sell through Paula directly, at Bear Tails.  I'm so very lucky to have met her.  She has a real passion for the stories, the artwork and the professionalism to deal with sales etc.

I've bought several of her books and these have to be my favourites.

'Alphabet Autos' is really funny. I got it as a joke for my son and found both he and my husband were laughing over it.  If you have the slightest interest in classic cars then this is the book for you. I wish I'd had it when I was teaching my little boys to read! Paula's caught the essence of the classic cars used perfectly.

'Have you seen?' is my grandchild's favourite book.  It's very cleverly written and frankly if I have to read it again I may go mad!  She would happily have it read to her 100 times a day but when granny reads it to her (me) then she expects the animal noises as well...and boy, that can take some creativity!

Now, the next post you get from me should have some actual crafting: crochet and stitching hopefully!

Have a great weekend (and well done if you actually managed to reach this far lol)

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Hare Today!

Not a lot of crafting going on but I do have some yummy news!

Firstly, I've been designing!  Oh yay!!

First off is a free Halloween chart..yes, free. Offered on Witchity Poo's fb page and also offered here.  I can't put a pdf file here but if you email me on I'll send you the chart.  I really enjoyed designing Trick or was great fun!

And I was on a ball with a brand new Holmsey Hare project.  I wanted little ornaments but Holmsey wanted something a bit different!  He's so awkward!

So we came up with three panels which can be stitched alone or stitched together as one larger picture.  It features some new characters and friends of Holmsey, some of whom may or may not appear in the second children's book!

Release details will follow soon.  Unfortunately after having a concept stolen by another designer (who did exactly the same thing with yet another designer), I can't reveal too much too soon...but I'm really looking forwards to this one and stitching the model!

I've released two new designs for a charity called Rainbows for Peace and Comfort.  It's a charity page which  has ' formed to help bring comfort and peace to all those impacted by the Orlando tragedy. We are a group of Cross stitchers who will be making quilts and other items for all. Please join us by stitching, supporting us and watching the projects grow.'

One has been stitched by a lovely man called Timothy who helps run the group.

Ying and Yang on black fabric.  Beautifully stitched Timothy!

And the other design I donated is:

It's  a worthwhile charity with things being made for the families of those who were lost in the nightclub attack and for the first responders.

Now, a little more Holmsey Hare news!

Paula from Bear Tails Illustrations has been busy working on the illustrations for the new book 'Can I Be a Hare?'

I can't show you the full pictures but here's a sneaky peek at some of the illustrations and the materials used for them.

It's all a bit wonderful isn't it?  I love the colours and the little snippets that will become something wonderful!

Health wise; I had to miss a chemo this week as it seems I had an infection, probably caught from having to spend hours and hours in the A and E with my son.  It's all good though: just part and parcel of what cancer is.  I'm making the most of having a weekend where for once I feel normal!

I'm actually going to sit and stitch now!  And about time too!

Have a wonderful weekend xxxxxx

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