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Raising Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars

After 2 years of deliberately growing ragwort, I finally got my hands on 2 Cinnabar moth larvae! Unfortunately they did not come to my ragwort, but I managed to gather them from near by woodlands and used my garden plants to feed them until they pupated. 

Below I’ll give you some facts about the critters, a rundown of my experience and some (hopefully) helpful photos for anyone else who would like to observe the life cycle of the Cinnabar moth.

(I’m no expert, despite my blog exploding with people looking for butterfly advice every summer… I just really really really love watching bugs) 

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Fire Time Bannock With Free Print Out Recipes

I spied my first bannock while my husband was watching YouTube videos back in March 2020.

A bannock is basically a bread that is cooked on a frying pan or flat stone applied to a heat source rather than in an oven. And baking powder is used as a rising agent rather than yeast. They sort of have the texture of a dense scone and can be made sweet or savoury.

In many of the videos, the bannock was being made in the coals of a fire while the cook (youtube creator) was out on woodland camping adventures.

Bannock is ideal for camping because you can carry the pre-mixed dry ingredients and basically just add water to create the dough.

When my husband surprised me with a bannock for breakfast soon after I expressed my interest in making one, I was inspired to work out some of my own flavour combinations as the base is so incredibly versatile.

During lockdown we have been spending many evenings having fires in our back garden and we’ve been doing all sorts of outdoor cooking experiments, so this all came together at the right time.

Making this one of my many little pet projects, I took a rough recipe off one of the “Simon a bloke in the woods” videos and I worked out 2 base recipes. Then from those base recipes I worked out 7 of my own flavour combination recipes which I have tweaked to perfection (according to my palate). There were more but these are the best so far.

 

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I Made A Kalimba And I May Make Another

Before the end of last year I had never even heard of thumb pianos. Then, completely by chance I saw a youtube video which featured a kalimba and I was instantly amazed by how such a simple instrument could make such a beautiful sound. 

I have many skills, however musical skill or talent is not among them. I can’t read music either. I’m sure I could read music if I really tried, but I have zero hope for ever applying that to an instrument and it’s something I’d have to invest a lot of time in. Time I do not want to spend on music. I’d much rather construct and create visually because that is what brings me joy. But the more I looked into this specific instrument, the more I wanted one despite knowing I’d never be very good at playing it. 

The gorgeous simplicity of the kalimba had started gears turning in my head regarding the customization potential, and after a few searches I found kits which would allow me to build my own kalimba from scratch.

And just like that I was sold! 

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Ditched Disposable Pads And Some Other Things Too

This isn’t a creative post, however I’ve got a couple of creative posts in the works which will be written up soon. 

This is about actively altering my perspective by trying new things and making small changes in my life to reduce waste. 

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Making All The Books

The UK is in lockdown and who knows how long it will really last?

It is already more challenging than I was prepared for, but I am grateful for my crafty drive as it gives me something to look forward to and helps to take the edge off the constant gnawing worry and uncertainty.

For the last several months I’ve been working on handmade books and journals. Some are blank and some I’ve filled with arty stuff… most are works in progress. Read more…

So This Is Us Now

I’ve been thinking for a while that the days of the blog are slowly sliding away, however… given recent global events (and my booming statistics) it would appear that people are reading again.

And as I sit here now with my sanity slowly sliding away, I think it’s probably time to start writing again.

So… My family has been isolating since the 14th as my husband can work from home. The schools are officially closed starting on the 23rd, but I felt that because I am a stay at home parent who didn’t need to leave the house anyway, it was best for our family and the wider community if I took the kids out sooner rather than later.

As the country slowly shut down over this week I’ve been working very hard to control my chaotic and overwhelmed feelings about the big picture while sitting here with 2 energetic children who need me to hold it together.

It’s much easier said than done.

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I Illustrated A Poem

Ages ago I spotted a poem by Nicolette Sowder and it resonated with me as poetry very rarely does, so I saved it. Then as with nearly everything I randomly stick on my computer, I promptly forgot I had saved it.

Which brings us up to about a week ago when I rediscovered the file on my desktop while doing some routine fluff clearing maintenance.

The past few months have been rough ones and I’m still living in a dense, anxiety filled, exhausted brain fog. As a result, I’ve been having a difficult time focusing on anything and I was going to write about that, but I don’t have it in me right now. The reason why I mention it however, is because I tend to get a lot of creative things done when I’m feeling this way, so when I re read the poem I decided to have a go at creating illustrations to accompany the words.

I tried to talk myself out of it as it was a lot of work, but I lost the battle and completed the 9 paintings last night to get the project out of my system.

This is the first time I’ve ever attempted something like this, and I am really happy with how it all came together.

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3D Print Painting Part 8

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been able to sit down and focus on painting some 3D printed models, but at long last, I’ve gotten back to it, and this post only covers half of the ones I’ve started!

There are a couple of reasons I had to take such a lengthy break. The first is that our good printer went POOF is the smokiest and most inconvenient of ways. The second is that my 3 year old was just too much of a handful. Her behavior took a downward turn with her third birthday. (Hooray for timely developmental leaps) We couldn’t get her to sleep, and she never left me in peace. It was absolute hell. Months upon months of endless toddler torture. (It’s a good thing she’s cute) I simply could not clear the space or make the time I needed to exercise this specific craft properly. And if I can’t do a craft in such a way that I can finish the project, I tend not to start, so as to avoid the ultimate frustration. This meant that even after the printer was replaced, I had to save my models in a box and wait.

Now things are better with my daughter. She sleeps, and she is far more independent, it’s fantastic!  Also I have a few hours, four days a week, (most weeks) where there isn’t a single soul in the house to disturb me. Before she went into nursery, I hadn’t had this sort of peace in over 7 GOD DAMNED YEARS.

It is bliss.

I’ve been working on roughly 12 models this week. The first 5 that came together are featured below and have all been designed by my friend, the very talented Jukka Seppänen (Kijai). They are quite diverse and expertly sculpted. I love how Jukka can turn his hand to so many different themes and that he’s always working on something new. He certainly keeps me inspired to paint!

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Inktober 2019

This year I decided to participate in Inktober. My goal was to complete 31, A6 sized, black and white drawings with Micron pens by the end of the month. Ideally finishing 1 per day. Many people follow prompts to create their daily pieces, however I decided not to use prompts and just drew whatever floated to the surface of the page.

In advance I made a book for them all to live in as I thought that with 32 pages fill, I would force myself to actually finish the exercise.

The good news is that I did finish 31 drawings! The bad news is, it took me an extra week, but I got it done. And in the spirit of Inktober I did draw every day, however I ended up working on the pictures in batches of 4 or 5 so that I could cycle/rotate through them for maximum productivity.

Upon reflection I’m glad that I did it, but I’m more glad it’s over and I don’t think I will ever be participating in inktober again as I prefer to just head in the direction my creative urges rather than forcing myself to engage in one specific task for a prolonged period of time. It sort of takes the joy out of the experience.

At the end of the day though, I do have a really cool book which I am pretty happy with.

Instead of making a super long winded post, I’ve included a video flip through of the book below, where I chat a bit about the individual drawings.

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The 10 Days Of Premenstrual Misery

I’ve been doing a lot of long game crafting over the last couple of weeks for projects that won’t be completed until roughly November and December, so I won’t have much to write about here in the meantime unless I can set myself up to do some miniature painting, which I would absolutely love to do….. but we’re talking end of September at the earliest.

Also I’ve been making witch hats with this excellent pattern that I purchased on Ravelry and highly recommend.

So today without much else to write about, I thought I’d share something mildly amusing that I threw together after a couple of drinks Saturday night, while in the throes (still in the throes) of PMS. It’s meant to be sung to the tune of the 12 days of Christmas… (preferably after roughly half a bottle of wine) but 12 days was too many days, so it’s 10.

Apologies in advance for much potty mouth to follow. Read more…

Mental Health, Creativity, And My First Handmade Art Journal

Often I am asked where I find the time to make all of the things that I make.

It seems like a simple question, and superficially it is. In fact, the people asking probably don’t want or expect an answer, and knowing this makes me glad usually because trying to answer this coherently is just so complicated.

I’m going to try to scratch the surface though, and attempt to not be too long winded about it. Read more…

Arteza Real Brush Pens 6 Months Later

Navigating my way through a rough patch in child rearing has kept me from writing.  My brain is just mush for words lately as ear splitting tantrums fill my days… and my nights.

Tantrums because I suggested the incorrect color of elastic for her hair. Tantrums because she wants me (almost exclusively me) to carry her all the time, but she is big and I am sore. Tantrums because she is suddenly terrified of hairballs. Hairballs which randomly pop up nearly everywhere in our house as we are (not bragging) a very hairy family.

Loooong drawn out tantrums. Let me tell you, the kid has some serious stamina and willpower.

Leaving the house without another adult for support, even to walk a down the street to the post office has become all but impossible, as I am unable to physically carry her everywhere (carpal tunnel), however if I put her down she thrashes, screams, kicks off her shoes into the road and throws herself back onto to the sidewalk which is ALWAYS covered in poop because of irresponsible dog owners.

Without the support from my husband, I would truly be a quivering puddle of tears and snot on the floor.

I love my babies endlessly, but I have to say, if my first daughter behaved this way, I’m relatively certain she would have remained an only child!

My anxiety levels have been completely out of control and I’ve been back and forth to the doctor several times for anxiety related problems, but I feel that I’m finally getting a handle on it and I have channelled some of the brain mush into cleaning my house which has at least been productive… so some good has come of this. In all of my adult life, my house has never been more tidy. That’s sort of a win, right?

The only thing I’ve managed to do creatively is continue on with small illustrations which I have been using my Arteza Real Brush Pens to color. Thus the title of this post, which was not supposed to be a rant about the challenges of parenthood! Read more…

Goodbye Gallbladder

It has finally happened, the gallbladder is gone!

In fact, it has been gone for 3 weeks and I feel pretty awesome.

So… I promise that I will stop ranting about my broken gallbladder, because it’s been snipped, pulled out of a teeny hole above my belly button, dissected and incinerated.

The journey to get to this point was far longer than it should have been.

Below I’m just going to share a few things/pointers I learned along the way for anyone in a similar situation (in the UK).

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Life Sized Gallbladder Amigurumi Pattern

I was diagnosed with gallstones a year ago, and I’m still waiting on my letter from the NHS with a surgery date… It should be any day now, but I’ve been telling myself that since November, and honestly, my hopes aren’t high… in fact, I think they’re pretty much gone.

I’ve just accepted that they will get to me when they get to me, and I’ll continue to manage my symptoms the best that I can while living in fear every day that something is going to go horribly, dangerously wrong in the meantime.

Anyhoo, my oldest daughter (6) is really fascinated by human anatomy and physiology, so naturally she’s had a lot of questions about Mommy’s broken gallbladder. I’ve answered them all,  but to help her put it into three dimensional perspective I decided to make her a life sized amigurumi gallbladder.

This was a while ago now, but I thought that since gallbladder issues are soooooo very common, someone else might also enjoy the pattern!

(kawaii face optional)

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Simple Hooded Scarf Pattern

I know it’s a bit late in the season for a scarf, but I figure Autumn is closing in on the southern hemisphere, so why not get it out of my system and into the world?

This hooded scarf is another part of an ongoing endeavour of mine, using crochet to design practical and comfortable things that I’ll actually wear. Also to showcase designs that work with simple, inexpensive DK yarn as it’s the most affordable option for most of us crafty dabblers.

I truly love fancy yarn, but when a pattern only looks good because of the gorgeous yarn used, the pattern is actually quite useless to most people who aren’t going to shell out the money for that special yarn.

Anyhoo.. enough of my tangent about affordable yarn, here is the pattern to my hooded scarf! :)

 

 

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Geocaching – 4 More Handmade Swag Ideas

As the title suggests, here are 4 more simple crafty projects off the back of my previous post from last July! (5 handmade swag ideas.)

I’ve only been geocaching for just under a year now, but the exchange of “swag” is one of my favorite parts about the whole experience, and it’s often an overlooked aspect by many cachers.

Personally it really makes my day when I find something thoughtful in a cache. This is why I love leaving a little something behind that I’ve made whenever I can.

To keep myself from spiralling into a crafty tizzy there are 6 points that I use to build my ideas around when creating swag for geocaches…

Each item must be:

  1. Small– Most caches are small and there needs to be plenty of room left for others.
  2. Fast – Have to accept the very real possibility that these things might be destroyed or not appreciated as intended, so the amount of time spent on them has to be reasonable.
  3. Inexpensive – For the same reasons, I’m not pouring a ton of money into the finished items.
  4. Sturdy – A high standard of craftsmanship is important to me in everything I make.
  5. Thoughtful – Is this something that would make me feel warm and fuzzy to find?
  6. Weatherproof – Zip seal jiffy bags are essential for protecting swag in most caches, especially in Scotland where everything is usually pretty damp.

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I AM BAT

I do a lot of freehand amigurumi, and this little guy is one of my many recent creations.

BAT is the main character of the children’s book I AM BAT by Morag Hood. My youngest daughter received a copy of the book for Christmas and she loves it. In fact it’s the first book that she’s ever actually let me sit down and read to her, which made it extra special to me.

The story is so simple, but adorably illustrated and relatable to quite possibly ever toddler ever, so to be honest, we all love the book. (Highly recommend)

As a result of the impression this book made on our little family, I decided to bring Morag Hood’s lovely illustration of BAT to life with a crochet amigurumi doll for my daughter. Read more…

Low Fat Stuffed Mushrooms

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe,

I wasn’t convinced this one would work well, but the food processor is key to helping the cottage cheese lose its texture.  I’ve made them a few times now and the mushrooms are actually pretty killer, so I’ve decided to share.

Given the fact that I can eat very little fat without making myself severely uncomfortable I’ve been doing a lot of low fat recipe adaptations lately, however if you want to go full fat, replace the cottage cheese with full fat cream cheese. :)  Read more…

Curio Shawl Crochet Pattern

This pattern took me roughly 4 months to put together, test and proof-read, but today it’s finally out there!

Initially I designed the Curio Shawl as an experiment for myself, as I rarely see crochet patterns for clothing that I’d like to wear.

The design process started with some graph paper and a skull, but then I put wings on, and added a long tail which reminded me a bit of a dragonfly or a key. Next I added tendrils as I couldn’t resist. It took me about two weeks to turn the graph paper into a completed crochet shawl, and I wasn’t really sure how my graph would translate to something wearable, but once I saw it finished I was so pleased that I decided that I’d push myself through the process of writing the pattern out in detail.

This is my first attempt selling a pattern on Ravelry ( click here to buy ) and I honestly don’t know what sort of expectations I have, however I am very much looking forward to seeing how it is received and I hope to create another few patterns this year going forward!

(More photos below)

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Playing With Arteza Real Brush Pens

I bought a set of 24 Arteza Real Brush Pens for my birthday back in November 2018.

There was a video advertisement on facebook that attracted me the pens as it was demonstrating the watercolor effects that can be achieved with them. I’ve been in love with watercolors since I was 15 years old, but using them properly requires space I do not have and peace which children do not give me…. So when I saw the pens I thought… “OOOH I could cheat!” and it turns out, I was correct.

However, to use them the way that I wanted to I needed to gather a few new materials and that is why it has taken me until this week to finally try them out.

I’m really happy with the results so far, and below I’ve shared some photos of my completed pieces,  as well as a few step by step pictures detailing my process.  Read more…

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