Saturday, 23 August 2008

Day2Day - week 9

I am surprised and amazed at myself for continuing this day2day project for 9 weeks! It's not something I've been very good at in the past and I certainly never even considered doing any of the Flickr 365 projects. Anyway, a bit of a mixed bunch again this week so enjoy :)

Day 1 - Doris, my neighbours' cat playing hide and seek in my flower border.

Day 2 - One of my stock sites was running a Recycling theme so I wandered out to try my hand at something a bit different. Not sure it's the prettiest picture in the world but it is a familiar sight around the backyards of the UK.

Day 3 - Saw these yesterday on my way home so I took my camera with me today so I could stop and take a picture. The weather co-operated nicely too :) I think these are haws from a hawthorn but not 100% certain on that!

Day 4 - This little fella was visiting my neighbours climbing rose and just hopped into a clear space long enough for me to get a few shots off. This was the best of the bunch but with him in heavy shadow and bright background, it's not brilliant :(

Day 5 - At long last, a visit from a Tortoiseshell butterfly - I wrote about these a few posts ago - apparently their numbers have dropped almost 80% since the early 90's so not as common as they once were. If this summers visitors to my buddleia are anything to go by, I'd guess the Red Admiral is surviving mankinds destructive habits the best.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Just a Few Pretties

Mum and I toddled along to our local RHS garden (Royal Horticultural Society) this week. We were pretty lucky the weather held out for us but my gosh, it was really windy on the top of that hill. Anyway, given the wind speed, I'm surprised I got any good flower photos but I did manage to get a few so here they are for your perusal :)

A whole border full of these lovely coneflowers (echinacea?) with a wispy grass background. The bees were buzzing merrily. Mum has some of these in her garden at the moment but having seen them in a swathe like this, we both agree, she needs some more for better effect next year.

This fiery spikey dahlia was right outside the coffee shop - where I had chocolate cake for breakfast! Mmmmmm, naughty!

These lovely bright rudbeckias were just calling out for a photo session. Unfortunately, they are quite leggy creatures so were badly affected by the wind. This is about the only one that was presentable :)

And my favourite shot of the whole day - a lovely buttery yellow ball of loveliness adorned by her very own sparkles, courtesy of the UK summer :)

Friday, 15 August 2008

Day2Day - week 8 - Butterflies

This week has been rather OK-ish weatherwise so my garden surprise visitor (the Buddleia) has been covered in all sorts of wildlife including some butterflies I hadn't seen before so here they are!

Day 1 - a Large White Butterfly - I think it's the pattern on the wing tips that decide whether it's a large or small white one!

Day 2 - It's my tatty neighbour again from a previous week but I called it a tortoiseshell and it's not. It's a Comma, I think. I had another this week that I had never seen before so I had to look it up on Google. I found a lovely Butterfly identification site here and while I was looking, I saw this one there so managed to find out exactly what it was.

Day 3 - A Painted Lady - I knew straight away that I would need to ID this one - haven't seen it since either so I was really lucky that it stayed where it was long enough for me to run upstairs, grab my camera, change to my zoom lens and get some shots!

Day 4 - A Small Heath butterfly - another I had to look up. This was was wandering round Mum's coneflowers and I knew I didn't have time to run for the zoom lens so this is my everyday lens and a tight crop :)

And Day 5 - My favourite British butterfly - a Peacock. When we decided to let the weed grow that is now an 8ft Buddleia, I was secretly hoping for a summer full of butterflies. We had a huge dark purple one in our garden when I was a child and I was always fascinated by these lovely delicate creatures. This beauty has visited for the first time today - just in time to make me smile in the sunshine and to fill slot number 5 in my day2day post :)

I can't believe I've managed to keep this up for 8 weeks already. It seems like only a couple of weeks since we started but I'm really enjoying it so here's to the next 8 weeks! I guess it's going to be a lot harder during the winter due to lack of light but I'll just have to get my thinking cap on for some interesting Still Life shots, won't I?

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Look What I Made!

Last Saturday I joined my Etsy friend Debsmuddle on a one day workshop to make a 'Big Bag'. I was very nervous as I can barely sew a button on and machine sewing was last attempted at school when I was 13. I became the proud owner of an elderly sewing machine earlier this year though, so after hubby had given it a good clean up and got it working again, I knew I would have to find a class to learn how to use it.

Debs came with me to the fabric shop on Friday (scary place when you know nothing!) and helped me choose the right type of fabric and interfacing stuff. We went for bleached calico for the lining as the main fabric was probably a bit expensive for a first attempt (I couldn't help it, I fell in love) and I also needed some other sewing related basics like thread, needle threaders (my eyes are getting old) oh, and scissors! Do you know how many types of scissors there are? I sure as heck didn't! - Debs guided me straight and true and I came home with a lovely haul and still a few pennies in my pocket. I also came home with a little bit of understanding of how so many of my Etsy friends have fabric stashes tucked away in odd corners of their homes.
Saturday morning dawned and I loaded my car with yesterdays' haul, my sewing machine, cutting mat and rotary cutter. I did manage to forget a ruler and pencil (doh!) but Margaret (the main lady for the day) was well prepared. Now I've been to School House Arts before (and got lost) so I thought I knew where I was going - nope - I managed to take another wrong turn but realised quickly so turned around and got there eventually.
So there I was, surrounded by 5 other ladies who had already settled down and looked like they knew what they were doing. I quickly unpacked my machine and Margaret got us started with a welcome and some basic instructions to begin with. My first challenge was how to use freezer paper to make a pattern using only an 11x8 cutting mat! Yep, everyone else had huge mats and enormous rulers so Margaret lent me hers (Thank you Margaret) and off I went.
Next came to scary bit - pinning the pattern to the fabric and... cutting it! Looking back, I started on the main fabric - how silly was that? I should have started on the lining for a bit of confidence but no, I just dived in as usual. Cutting out took me most of the morning although I wasn't too far behind some of the others so that gave me a little confidence then we pinned the relevant pieces together and were ready to sew.
Ah, yes, start up the machine time! I thought I knew how to load a bobbin up with thread so off I went. That seemed to work OK but took several attempts then I had to thread up the machine. Hmmm I thought - I can do this - so I carried on. Luckily I had the sense to try the tension and stuff on a test piece (I'm not silly, you know) and it was time to cry for help! Margaret and Debs got me sorted out in two shakes of a lambs tail and I was off! A few words of encouragement and beady eyes on me for my first few inches of proper sewing then they left me to carry on.

More spot questions through the afternoon, copious amounts of coffee provided by Nikki (also a founder member and talented fibre artist) and by 4pm, I was done, bang on schedule. That in itself, felt like a major achievement but oh my bag - it was wonderful! I can't believe how good it came out - but with excellent teaching and guidance from Margaret, Debs and Nikki and a little bit of care and commonsense dragged out of me, it couldn't go wrong really.

All in all, I had a fantastic day out with friends and like minded people and came home, not only with a fab bag but also the enthusiasm to try out my new skills again on my own. Come back soon to see my own, unsupervised attempt :)

My Moo's have arrived!

Yaaayyyyyyy! I must admit, I was a bit disappointed with the sample mini Moos I received a couple of years ago. The odd size did not work well with my photos although the cardstock quality was very good so whilst everyone else has been raving about them, I was a bit 'meh!'

But fairly recently, they have launched the bigger, standard business card size so I dived in and they arrived yesterday morning. To say I am happy with them is a bit of an understatement - I love them! To have 50 different cards showing my best work is great, so now, when I hand out a business card, I can let the person choose one :)

I'm not sure they would be cost effective for your ordinary, everyday type business card - I wouldn't expect my accountant or pensions advisor to have glitzy, fancy business cards but in the arty, crafty, niche worlds they are perfect! My niece and nephew have already claimed a few for themselves - straight onto their bedroom walls with blu-tack so that gave me a little buzz too - whilst they know I take photographs, abstract flowers aren't really their thing after all!

Friday, 8 August 2008

Day2Day - wk 7 - Just an Ifit week

What's an Ifit I hear you ask? If it got in front of my lens, it had it's photo taken! Very similar to my ifit meals - if it's in the fridge, throw it in the pan (also known as a sort of stir fry). Also a pretty horrid week all round and to top it off, I have failed to do a photo today so only 4 this week :(

Day 1 - Monday I tried to cook a cake to send to Lazygiraffe over on Etsy. We've been partnered up in a Cake Swap. This is the devastation of my kitchen after cooking AND it wasn't very nice either!

Day 2 - Tuesday and all the neighbourhood starlings decided my roof was the best for a party! I love watching them when they all fly up together but boy, do they make a noise meantime!
Day 3 - Wednesday and the sun came out for a while. This beauty (Red Admiral) was so busy stuffing his face, he didn't take any notice of me or my camera! I have cropped this one quite heavily so you can see his eye and his tongue (proboscis) quite clearly (only if you want to, of course!).

and Day 4, Thursday. Just yesterday morning, I heard a news report that the small tortoiseshell butterfly numbers have dropped 80% since the 1990's. I hadn't seen one all summer then just one day after hearing the report, there were two of them on my buddleia. This poor fellow has a very tatty wing so I'm guessing he's either been attacked by a bird (and got away) or he's an old boy.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Green Thumb Sunday - slightly off topic!

We had a bit of excitement here at Allsorts Towers this week! Hubby has been complaining of hearing little crawly/rustly type noises in the attic for a week or two now (didn't stop him snoring though!) so we stuck our heads up through the attic hatch and found out very quickly what the problem was - WASPS! So one quick phone call to the pest control guy and it was all dealt with in double quick time.
I'm not a great fan of chemicals and poisons but wasps freak me out somewhat so it had to be done. Not to mention there are young children and elderly people in the immediate neighbourhood who could have been hurt if the wasps swarmed nearer the end of the summer. We've had to wait a couple of days before going back into the attic but we braved it today and I took my camera with me.
The beam on the left is about 6 inches (15cm) so you can gauge how big this thing is! We can't get to it to see how far back it goes (mind you, I don't really want to get too close anyway!) but hubby reckons it a miniature Borg Cube - resistance is futile and all that :-)
Luckily I had guessed I wouldn't be able to get too close so I had taken my long lens with me. The quality is not brilliant but you can see how amazingly intricate it is from this shot. I may have to persuade hubby to try and retrieve it (with gloves on though) so I can get some wonderful macro shots - sort of an apology to all the wasps that were killed for our safety/convenience.
It's been a very grey week - constantly threatening rain but never actually raining. I work about 20 miles away and Thursday morning we had an almighty downpour with thunder and lightening. I thought 'good, I won't have to water the garden tonight' but when I got home, my town had had a little shower - not even enough to completely wet the bottom of the water butt! So it was back to the watering can duty for me. Hope you've had a good week and your gardens are growing well, catch you next time :)

Friday, 1 August 2008

Day2Day - Views From My Armchair

Just a quick post and run this week I'm afraid. I've had a day off work today for a rest but so much has happened, been done, got sorted out - I'm thinking perhaps I should have gone to work for a rest! LOL

Anyway, this week I have been lazy - I have taken all these shots from my old armchair on our verandah - sounds posh doesn't it? Well, it's not! It's basically a small deck area on the back of the house and we've put some posts up and roofed it in clear plastic panels - we needed somewhere out of the sun to dry our scuba kit and as the garden is north facing, we couldn't see the point of spending loads of money to put a proper conservatory out there. So I dug out my 300mm zoom lens and tried to make some pretty photos without getting up - yes, I've pulled some funny positions but my bum was on the chair for every shot!

Day 1 - the yellow osteospermum - home to the infamous green bug thing from previous posts! After several weeks, I'm sad to report, the green bug seems to have moved on :(Day 2 - Not sure what it's latin name is but we call it an iceplant - I have a pink and a red one and like everything else in the garden this year, this is going bananas!

Day 3 - my lovely purple and cream callas are fading now, slowly turning green and tightening up again. This was Wednesday, today (Friday) they have almost all flopped over so it's time to say a fond farewell and hope they do as well again next year.

Day 4 - I turned my lens slightly skyward for this one - my neighbour has this beautiful pink rose climbing over an arch over her gate. The bluetits and wren love this rosebush and can be seen bug hunting regularly. Watching the baby starlings trying to land on some of the long shoots can be very funny too.

Day 5 - The end of another busy week and this lone pigeon sits cooing on Mum's tv aerial. The clouds were so pretty as a backdrop and I don't do many silhouettes so I thought it was worth a few clicks.