29 April 2014

25 years ago today...

We got married in my village church, where my parents were married, where I was christened, where I used to sing in the choir...

Nick's best man Ken came over from the States with Nick's parents, grandmother and aunt and uncle. My flower girl was Eloise, the daughter of an English family who helped Nick and I meet when we were both in Kenya - he with a water charity, I with the local Bible College as a teacher.

I bought the slub silk material in Nairobi and a dear Kenyan friend, Faith, made my basic dress. Then a seamstress friend of my parents made an under-skirt with Nottingham lace and fashioned a bustle scattered with silk rosebuds. I found the lace parasol in a charity shop :-)

These are my favourite two pictures. The first we had enlarged and framed and it sits on our window sill - a tad faded after 25 years, rather like us! A group of my parents' friends surprised us with the Rolls Royce wedding car - we had planned to use a friend's car. Our wedding and honeymoon in the Lake District were planned with the grand budget of £1000 - but lack of money didn't stop us having a day to remember :-)

28 April 2014

Word for the Week - and a wee birthday...

What a Word for this week!!! I've just drawn this from the bag of Mary's Rediscovery Cards

How perfect is that? 

Today I celebrate my 50th birthday - aware that for most of human history 50 years of life was a REAL celebration - especially for a woman - a very real blessing of abundant days, of surviving childbirth, hardship, disease...

And I am most aware of all my personal Abundance - my family, my friends, my home, all the excellent health care I have received over the years, especially since the stroke...

And the Abundance of Blogland - blog-friends, readers, folk who just drop by. Since I created this blog just over 5 short months ago, I've written over 150 posts, which have had almost 20,000 pageviews, and have received almost 2,000 comments...

These numbers are staggering to me, but not all Abundance can, or needs to, be counted - it should be just experienced, enjoyed and cherished...

Forty is the old age of youth. Fifty is the youth of old age.
Victor Hugo

I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming... suddenly you find - at the age of 50, say - that a whole new life has opened up before you.
Agatha Christie

27 April 2014

Final Giveaway winner!

And here we are - the end of my 13 weeks of Giveaways... It's just flown by and thank you so much for all the lovely comments each week - they have just made the countdown to my BIG birthday even more special :-)

So let's crack on!

For this final Giveaway there were 46 entries - wow, thank you!! And using the random number generator the winner is comment number 20

Congratulations, Mascha!!!

If you can email me your address using the Contact Form (the link on my Blogger profile doesn't seem to work!), I'll get these lovely goodies in the post this week :-)

This has been such fun, and I fully expect I'll have another Giveaway series later in the year! But starting tomorrow, I have a fun-filled week - birthday family dinner tomorrow, Silver Wedding anniversary on Tuesday, birthday lunches with friends later in the week...

And 2 weeks today, a dear friend visits from the US - she turned 50 in January, so lots more celebrating is planned!

I will post and share as much as I can, so do keep stopping by to share the fun xx

25 April 2014

Focus on Life Week 17: Evening moments

Every night before I get into bed, I put on, or hold, one of these special objects and give thanks for the day...

And before I turn out the light, I look at these two angels over our bed, and ask them to watch over us all...

These are ultra-special, sacred moments at the end of each and every day, and I wouldn't miss them for the world...


Can I invite to join in this week's Giveaway? It's the LAST one of my 13 weeks of Giveaways and it's a BIGGIE...

You can find more photos and info here, where you can leave a comment to enter tomorrow's draw at 11 am (BST). I'm happy to post it anywhere, so please don't be shy. Let's get my BIG 5-0 celebrations off to a happy start :-)

My first Paint Party Friday

I've been wanting to join this for a while now, so I got myself organized this week!

When sorting my art cupboard the other week, I came across several 'painting practice pieces'...
I never throw away anything I've created away, as it usually comes in useful some time or other :)

So I took this splodgy watercolour and cut it up in ATC-size pieces...

Experimented with outer sleeve shapes...

And made some Spring Meadow ATCs.

I won't show any more in case those involved in the WOYWW swap next month see them :)

As this is my first PPF, I hope I've done this right... Could you tell me if I haven't??


And I'd like to invite you to my LAST Celebration Sunday Giveaway to mark my BIG 5-0 on Monday (you can see former giveaways on the Giveaway page).

There are more photos and info over at this post, where you can leave a comment to enter Sunday's draw at 11 am (BST) 27 April 2014.

I am happy to post anywhere, so do join in and get my birthday celebration off to a fun start :-)

23 April 2014


Wednesdays do come round quickly, don't they? So here's my 'desk' this week - back on the dining table busy making ATCs for the swap in 5 weeks' time...

I won't show any completed ones, so they'll be a surprise for the recipients, but this is 'an experiment' :-}

But I will show the BUMPER Last Giveaway in my Celebration Sundays - I shall miss my weekly Giveaways :-(

You can see more photos and info over here, where you can leave a comment to be in the draw on Sunday (27 April) at 11 am (BST) - the day before my BIG 5-0 on the 28th :-) 

I am happy to post the goodies anywhere, so please don't be shy and help me get my birthday celebrations off to a happy start!! Leave a comment here.

Now, I'm away to Julia's Stamping Ground to see what others are up to...


21 April 2014

Word for the Week (150th post - oh my!!!)

Here we are, another Monday...

In the UK, it's a Bank Holiday - an extension of Easter weekend - and for most schools, the last day of their Easter break :(

And before I draw this week's Word, I must say a huge THANK YOU for all of you who stuck with me through my Lenten journey, and left so many lovely, lovely comments over the past 6 weeks! Lent is definitely a deeply personal journey, but it is SO good to know you're not walking it alone - so thank you again x


Once again, I simply cannot believe the synchronicity of the card as I draw it from the pack of Mary Lunnen's Rediscovery Cards...

Is this not the whole message of Easter? Of Spring?  Of why we get up in a morning?? 
It is 'the thing with feathers with feathers' according to Emily Dickinson. It is 'an anchor for the soul, firm and secure' according to Hebrews 6.19.

I am immediately struck by the colour - it's the same as Support which I drew a couple of weeks ago... I understand from Mary that the colours weren't chosen consciously but certainly, for me, Hope and Support definitely go together!! 

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.
Martin Luther King, Jr

I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.
Dalai Lama

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; 
remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.

What do you think when you see this small, yet powerful, word? I'd love the know :-)

20 April 2014

Easter Day

Emil Nolde, Resurrection, 1912



My LAST Celebration Sunday Giveaway :-(

Go to this post to see the BUMPER bundle of goodies to celebrate!

I will draw the winner next Sunday 27 April - the day before my BIG 5-0 birthday - at 11 am BST (the approx. time I was born in Singapore at 7 pm local time), so I share the fun with all you lovely people...

Have a GREAT day with your families and friends today - and don't eat too much chocolate... I will try to take my own good advice :-)

LAST Giveaway (winner drawn 27 April at 11 am GMT) and Giveaway 10 winner

HAPPY EASTER everyone!!

OK, it's going to be a BUMPER-giveaway this week - as I missed a couple of weeks being poorly, so I've combined the gifties from those weeks with this week's.

The LAST Giveaway in this Celebration Sundays series to celebrate my Big 5-0 birthday on 28 April - the day after drawing the last giveaway winner.

But before I show all the goodies on offer, let's announce last week's winner

Giveaway 10 winner

This week there were 12 entries, and using the random number generator the winner is comment number 11
Congratulations, BJ!!!

If you can email me your address using the Contact Form, I'll get the journal in the post this week :)

Now, here's the booty on offer for this LAST week of Giveaways...

It's quite hard to describe all the loveliness, but I will do my best! Starting with the top left

click on photo to enlarge

This is the necklace (in the butterfly giftbox) made by Amanda Davie (whose photo this is above). I adore her mixed-media jewellery and own several pieces, but this is too short for me now (about 18" long), and it so deserves to be worn! Here's a close-up of the wee ceramic bird with a copper 'Imagine' charm.

To was to be a STAR Giveaway on the last day of Celebration Sunday (which it is!) as it is soooo lovely!

Next to it is a fabric wallet holding a handmade, stab-bound book (out of shot), a bookmark, a pencil and a Reading List. Sadly I can't remember who made it, but it's from an Etsy shop...

Next is a lovely zipper pouch/make-up bag (8 x 6in approx.) made by Rhonda  with a gorgeous contrasting lining

Underneath the pouch in the photo are two books - one is a pocket-size note book, the other is a beautiful signed, handmade book of nature paintings and poems by Tracie Lyn at The Red Door Studio, and a very sweet ceramic turtle book thong.

And last, but not least, as you can just see peeking in the corner of the above pic is this copper bangle with its own cute leather popper pouch. Written on the bangle are the words 'Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain'. It's a favourite quote, but a can longer wear bangles, so...

And there you have it - quite a stash, don't you think??

As always, I'm happy to post it anywhere, so please don't be shy. And previous winners are more than welcome to enter to win again - you can even tell your friends - you don't have to be a follower, or a regular visitor!Let's make this LAST Giveaway the biggest and the best :) 

Just leave a comment below and I'll put your name (or a friend's) into the random drawing on Sunday 27 April (the day before my birthday!!!) at 11 am.

19 April 2014

Holy Saturday

Vincent van Gogh, Pieta (after Delacroix), 1889

This is the post I wrote 3 years ago on this very day - it is still very True to/for/of me...

Don't surrender your loneliness so quickly.
Let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you as few human
Or even divine ingredients can.
Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice so tender,
My need of God
Absolutely clear.

~ Hafiz

I confess I've always felt more comfortable with the atmosphere of Holy Saturday. Always troubled by the mental logistics (not the mention the suspension of disbelief) required for the Christian doctrine of the atonement (how could any father - divine or otherwise - put his son through crucifixion???), and equally troubled by the easy triumphalism of Easter Sunday, my God is always the Comforter, the Companion, yes, the Jesus on the road to Emmaus...

The essence of belief is hope, and it's not necessarily the thing with feathers, as much as the trust that in the darkest night there will be a dawn... Every day is a journey from darkness to light into darkness to light... This is the most basic rhythm of our human existence.

In the darkness is where we find our deepest fears - the most primal sense of 'What if the sun died in the night? What if daylight never again breaks?' - the fear that all I hold most dear is indeed lost... As Meister Eckhart realized, we all live under the umbra nihili, the shadow of nothingness, and as the clinically depressed know too well, it can be a crushing, heavy shadow.

Yet, it is in holding, and owning, those fears, sitting with them, that eventually faith and hope are born...
We have to go deeper into that emptiness,
then we will find beneath nothingness
the flame of love waiting to warm us.
John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, p. 33

And it's the nature of that love which shapes us...

as children it's the love of our parents - or lack of it - that gives us hope - or despair... 
as we grow up, it's the love of friends - or lack of it - that gives us meaning - or emptiness...
as adults it's the love of lovers/partners - or lack of it - that gives us stability - or fickleness...
and throughout our lives it's the love of self - or lack of it - that puts us in touch with the Other, be it human or divine - or leaves us doubting there is any such thing as love...

Love allows understanding to dawn,
and understanding is precious.
Where you are understood, you are at home.
John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, p. 36

Focus on Life Week 16: A moment best captured in B&W

I was so excited to get a good picture of this month's Full Moon - my old camera couldn't cope with low-light! 

This honestly is a black and white photo - really no difference from the colour version, except the wisp of cloud below the moon had a slight yellow tinge :-)

Can't wait to see all your B&W moments...

PS Here's this week's Giveaway - visit here for more pics and info and to leave a comment to enter tomorrow's (Sunday) random draw

17 April 2014

Maundy Thursday...

... so called from the Latin mandatum - commandment - recalling the story when Jesus washes his disciples' feet at the Last Supper as a demonstration of the New Commandment he gives them 'to love one another': 

I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
John 13.15

Ford Maddox Brown, Jesus Washing Peter's Feet (1852-6)

(This is my favourite painting of this story. I couldn't get a good photo of the one produced in the God for Us book, which is a 17th-century Greek icon.)

Liberate Your Art 2014 postcard swap blog hop

Way back in January I signed up Kat Sloma's postcard swap, thinking it was a wonderful idea, and I've thoroughly enjoyed postcard swaps before! However, when I actually read all the instructions, I realized I was a tad out of my depth - we were to produce professionally printed postcards - eek! I've never done anything like that before!

Well, thank goodness for moo.com, who not only produce business cards and letterheads, they also print postcards!!

So I created this - my first piece of digi-art...

... sent the design to moo (the website is terribly easy to use - even for a complete novice like me!) and lo and behold, a few days later 10 printed postcards arrived in the post :-)

I then sent 6 cards off to Kat in the US, with 6 return address labels, paid the international postage fees to Kat via Paypal, and waited...

Over a 6-week period in March- April, I duly received a card a week from...

Bottom left - Georgy's beautiful artwork on her desk
Bottom right - Tammy's amazing Ferris wheel
Middle left - a majestic eagle from Laura
Middle right - Michelle's inspiring message
Top left - Lisa's altered clipboard
Top right - Kat's gorgeous leaves

Kat, and her amazing team of buddies, pulled off a beautifully organized, efficient art swap. and I'm so glad I joined in! I produced something I've never done before, and for the first time in any swap I've been involved in, I received the full compliment of cards back!!

So thank you so much Kat, and I can't wait till next year's :-)

PS To any newcomers - can I point you to my Celebration Sundays:13 weeks of Giveaways button in the sidebar- we're on the LAST one :( Or you can visit here to leave a comment to enter to win all these goodies...

16 April 2014

Wednesday of Holy Week

Edward A. Armitage, The Remorse of Judas, 1866

Can you imagine his pain? Will we ever know why he did it?


Back on the dining table this week to make this month's Full Moon Dreamboard. I missed last month with being ill, so I was doubly keen to make this month's!

This is midway through - I have a tentative lay-out, but I keep referring back to Amy Palko's e-book Bloom by Moon (which I bought and printed out at Christmas and keep in a binder - top right). It's a Willow Moon at the moment, which is also my Celtic birth sign (less than 2 weeks to the big 5-0 *gulp*)

You can see, and read about, the finished dreamboard here.

And can I point you to this week's Giveaway....

You can see more photos and info and leave a comment to enter into Sunday's draw on this post :)

Now, off to desk-hop over at Julia's Stamping Ground...

15 April 2014

April Full Moon Dreamboard

I missed March's Dreamboard with a stinking cold, so I was most keen to make this month's! 

Also, it's the Willow Full Moon - under which I was born almost 50 years ago (in 1964, the Full Moon was towards the end of the month - I was born on Tuesday 28 April), so it feels extra significant!

Add to that, Pesach (Passover) starts today and it's Easter on Sunday!!

Following Amy Palko's Bloom by Moon e-book prompts, a Willow Moon invites safety and shelter and space... space to be... to be vulnerable... And I think the Dreamboard shows that with less colour, less busyness than other boards I've made.

On the left-hand page are several pages from old We'Moon diaries (my go-to resource in making these dreamboards!)

Top left is an untitled image by Deborah Koff-Chapin (1995) - I'm sure I subconsciously chose it for the large egg that's being held...
To the right is Creatrix by Rowan Wildash (2008) with the words Artistry/Alchemy, and below there is a wee print by Cathy Cullis, whose work I adore - I own several pieces!
Then there's a written piece 'How Art Can Heal Broken Places' by Lily Yeh from Moonrise: The Power of Women Leading from the Heart, Park Street Press, 2010.

This right-hand page is my favourite. A dreamy postcard by Micki Wilde - another fav. artist of whose work I own several pieces, a photo from Country Living magazine of a potter sketching out designs, with the words 'feels like nothing else' clipped from some advert! The main piece for me is a card I bought for just this dreamboard(!) from Holistic Creations (though her stock is very different at the moment). Inside the card was written:

You have huge common sense and are very bright,
Very intuitive, into other realms you have good insight.
You may keep your beliefs to yourself, being a spiritual seeker,
Which gives you an air of mystery, an imaginative dreamer.
You are articulate, artistic and very creative,
You're family orientated, of partners and children you are very protective.

This feels a very special, and important, dreamboard to me, and I sense I need to sit with it for a while and ponder its significance...

I'd appreciate any thoughts/comments/insights - I learn so much from your wise words :-) xx