Spring Enthusiasm

Before the April showers begin (as they surely will), I’ve been making the most of the sunny spring weather with long walks and gardening. I’ve also been enthused by the E-Book “How to Find Creative Inspiration” and the project #Make30photos to spend time idling about outside in the spring sunshine. The E-book has lots of ideas for getting out into the real world to find ideas and inspiration (instead of scrolling through Instagram and Pinterest) while the themes listed in Make 30 Photos encourage us to “Make your photos, don’t just take them”.

As ever, I’ve muddled the two together in my latest enthusiasm to  build a creative habit. Obviously, I may have a completely different enthusiasm next month, but for now I hope that the discipline of doing something creative for thirty days (not necessarily in a row) will form a lasting habit.

Photographing a clump of stinging nettles for Fill the Frame with Colour led to a little creative baking of  …

Nettle, cheese and chive scones

… a batch of Stinging Nettle & Cheese scones. Delicious cut in half and buttered while warm. Pretty tasty cold too. Especially with a slice of ham.

 

The advice to “Let your mind wander”in the E-Book section Take Time and Make Time  has been rather too easy while “… mindfully notice things” coupled with photographing “A Snail’s Eye View” led to a pleasant time crawling around with my camera in the grass paddock, hoping that I couldn’t be seen from the Yoga Studio.

It wasn’t until I looked at the photo on my computer screen that I noticed the ladybird under the deadnettle leaf, so I need to open my eyes and look a little more closely in future.

Even I couldn’t fail to see this chap lurking in the field as I nearly trod on him. Possibly not the ideal view for a snail lest it gets gobbled up.

It’s fun working these two little projects in tandem and I’d recommend them both to anyone with the tiniest creative urge.

 

 

* Read this article to find out the best time to make stinging nettle scones. Hint: Now


Spring Rituals

Spring has arrived. If you need dates to fix the seasons, then spring either started on Wednesday (the spring equinox) or on 1st March if you use the meteorological definition. Looking around here, it feels as though spring is slowly rolling in. It’s been slightly warmer and a lot less windy than earlier in the month. The days are getting longer and brighter and the birds sing and chatter loudly. The blackthorn hedges are veiled in white blossom that blows in the wind and falls to the ground like confetti amongst the new, bright green new growth of cow parsley, grass and cleavers.


Hidden in amongst the greenery, violets of every hue from white to deep violet (surprise, surprise) flower in shady places. To me, the appearance  of primroses and violets marks the true start of spring. One of the best places to find violets on the farm is just on the edge of the yard, in the shade of the tree where the dog cocks his leg every day as we set off on our walk. Hmm. Maybe those ones are just best left untouched for everyone to admire.

As ever, there are certain spring rituals that I’m drawn to each year.


A posy of violets picked for the bedside table. Every now and then, I catch their scent as it drifts across the room. My favourite flower fragrance: fleeting, floral and nostalgic. My perfume of choice.

 

 

Some years I make Violet Syrup or Violet Jam but this year my fad is for Violet Tisane (well, this week at least). A couple of tablespoons of violet flower heads steeped in near boiling water for a few minutes produce a vibrant deep turquoise drink. It’s worth drinking for the colour alone, but it also tastes deliciously of violets, without the normal  sweetness of jams and syrup.

 


I take no interest in the garden during the winter but in spring I have a sudden burst of enthusiasm. A few seed packets have been gathered ready for spring sowing, but first there’s the small matter of constructing the raised beds. We moved house last spring and have had no vegetable garden of our own since then but very slowly, the garden is beginning to take shape and the first of the beds are almost ready for sowing with carrots and beetroot.

 


The banks of the ditches that form the field boundaries are slowly filling with pale yellow primroses, which has me reaching for the Jelly Plate. The jelly plates have been badly treated, stacked away under printing stuff since the autumn, but have emerged relatively unscathed. It’s good to print with small spring leaves and flowers on a small jelly plate and get back into the swing. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you might want to read this beginner’s guide to jelly printing.


The tracks around the fields have been a bit wet and claggy after the glorious walking further afield in Tasmania and it’s been a bit gloomy tramping around in the mud. With luck, now spring is here, the sun will shine and there’ll be plenty of walking.

 

Do you have spring rituals? Or maybe you’re slipping into autumn. Do tell.




December Diary

As usual, December has passed in a blur and find myself surprised that Christmas Day is just over a week away. How did that happen?

 Have been trying to find balance between keeping Decorations Barn look reasonably full against not having to carry over too much stock to next year. Shelves looking a little bare but not as empty as Christmas Tree Barn, which has very few trees left (hurrah!).

Very glad to see back of dancing, singing moose from Decorations Barn. Fun to see reaction of customers who walked close enough to trigger moose to wiggle his hips and sing Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells Rock but a little wearing when children worked out how to activate him. Again and again. Suspect family who bought him may have already unplugged him several times. Perversely, rather miss his singing now he’s gone. A little.

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 Called the bluff of all the witty customers who saw the sign outside

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 and asked for gin wreath. Not a wreath to hang on the front door if it is to stay intact.

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Reached sparkle and glitter saturation and cut foliage for making natural wreaths. Cut back thyme that had grown leggy and tied woody growth into loose knot to make tiny wreaths. Added extra herbs to make wreath bouquet garni to hang in kitchen and save traipsing outside in cold and wet.

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Decided to entertain two-year old with printing. Made great mess with rubber stamps and ink. Used excess ink on hands to make thumbprint robin prints. Took longer to clear up than do the printing and rather regretted not using washable ink.

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Buoyed with success of autumnal stationery printing, decided to make and decorate Fold & Send Mail letters for Christmas. Subsequently, enjoyed time sitting quietly in the evenings writing letters. Even received letter in reply. Forgot how good it is to get handwritten letters instead of email and texts. Got carried away and masqueraded as Father Christmas. Thankfully, received no reply to that letter so won’t have to attempt sleigh ride and slide down chimney.

Realised that last gift ordering dates imminent and house has no Christmas decorations up. Searched out checklist for Christmas dinner. Wondered if time has come (after twenty years) to change slightly.  Continue to wonder.

Plenty of time to decide.