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One Lovely Blog

I woke up yesterday morning and looked out of the window. It was a lovely Saturday morning.  The sun was shining.  I had the whole day stretching ahead of me.  I made a pot of tea, and sat down at my computer.  

I'll have a catch up with my blog, I thought.  I'll start to write my next post.

When I turned on my computer,  I had a message from C who writes the very gorgeous blog Favourite Vintage Finds.  She was letting me know that she had given me the One Lovely Blog Award.

I love that this award features a teacup.

This means that she thinks my blog is Lovely.

It made me smile out loud.  How fantastic is that?

If you have chance, I recommend you visit C's blog, Favourite Vintage Finds.  Not only is it beautiful, it is also chock-full of fab vintage goodies.  Thank you, C, for the award.  It's my first.  And I'm very chuffed.

So now, having received the award, I can choose up to fifteen blogs, I think are lovely, to pass the award on to.

In equal order of loveliness, here are the blogs I have chosen:

Pillow Astronaut

Pupa Art

I have chosen these blogs because they have all inspired me in some way as I've ventured into the blogosphere.  I recommend that you visit each one.  They will make you smile.  They are all Lovely. 

I hope you've had a great weekend.

Creative Modifications

My nephew loves taking things apart and putting them back together.  Once he's taken something apart, he looks at how it's been made and thinks about how he can make it better. 

He's highly creative. 

I went to visit last week.  His room was a mass of electrical wire, metal parts, soldering irons, tool kits, and solder. 

In the midst of it all was an X-Box 360.  Or what previously had been an X-Box 360 before my nephew had systematically taken it apart.

He told me that he thought his X-Box would be better if it were covered in a clear perspex case, and had LED lights inside that would light up and pulse in time to any music that was being played through it, or in time with any games he was playing.  He also thought it would look good if the lights pulsed as if they were "breathing" when the X-Box wasn't being used.

With this in mind he had dismantled his X-Box, looked at the circuitry inside, figured out what he would need to add and take away from the circuitry in order to have his LED dream made a reality, and had ordered the necessary components. 

He had then set about altering the electrical circuitry inside, adding the lights and other bits and pieces, and soldering every connection that needed soldering.  He had added an on-off switch to the new system of lights.  Whilst doing all this he had discovered the polarity within parts of the circuit board needed altering and had altered it accordingly.

Here are some before and after shots.

This is the inside of my nephew's X-Box after he's partly rebuilt it.
The yellow and green tape shows some of the wires he's added.

Another look inside.

My nephew's finished, newly modified X-Box 360.
This is what he sees every time he turns it on.  Brilliant.

I asked my nephew if he thought he was creative.  He told me he didn't really think he was.  He said he just liked taking things apart and figuring out how to make them better.

Oh, I should probably point out that my very creative nephew is 15 years old.

P.S.  I've tried very hard not to embarrass my nephew by gushing.  It was very difficult.  I wanted to brag and gush all over the place, because he's so brill.   

Here's One I Made Earlier.

Having suffered from the creative equivalent of Writer's Block, I gave myself a good talking to, had a few cups of tea in preparation, and sat down yesterday and got it together.

Over the past few weeks I've been quietly making various studies of seed pods (have a read of Creative Irony for the full story), I found I liked the fragility and curved movement of the seed pods on a hydrangea seed head I'd been given.

I made a range of different drawings and sketches of the rounded shapes.  And sketched out a ring design.

From these initial seed pod designs, I sat down yesterday and started playing with some copper wire I had shaped into square wire and then annealed (heated, in order to make more malleable).

This seed pod inspired ring appeared.

This is the model for the final ring which I'll make in silver, with freshwater seed pearls.  

I always make a model in copper.  If I make a mistake it's much cheaper to start all over again.  If I make a mistake using silver, I'm likely to have a wee cry. 

Even though this is the model, I've used freshwater seed pearls, because they looked so lovely against the rich colour of the copper wire.

I've been working on a copper model of a seed pod inspired necklace/collar.  I finally soldered all the model pieces together yesterday.  

To be honest, I'm pretty pleased with the collar.  It's the first thing I 've made using solder.  So far it hasn't fallen apart. 

(Soldering isn't easy.  I kept blowing the pieces of copper away from each other with the flame from the torch.  I also inadvertantly set fire to the bench work top.  But managed to blow it out before any real damage was done.  Comments were made about the smell though.  Ahem.  No harm no foul.)


Accidental Creativity

Having spent so much time being creative with the way my home looks.  And changing the way I express myself through my appearance, I have begun to wonder if I am procrastinating when it comes to doing any art work. 

Something about sitting down with a "blank slate" and creating a piece of artwork has been scaring the bejeezes out of me.  

I'm not really one to walk away from something.  I tend to take the "if it feels scary then it's probably pretty important that you do it" approach.  Hence the I Think I'll Join The Girls Venture Corps So I Can Fly Planes speech of 1983, and the I've Decided To Move To Japan speech of 1993.  More recently we have the I Think I'd Like To Be More Creative speech of 2009...

But sometimes, before I realise it's important to Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway, I find myself being very busy.  With other things I find to do.  When you think about it, it's actually very creative.  I can create quite a number of things that need doing that really don't need doing in a matter of minutes.  

I call it "doing a Monica".  I feel the need to organise.  Cupboards.  Drawers.  To make piles of things I need to sort out.  Washing.  Paperwork.  And then suddenly I'll notice that this is happening and start asking myself, "What in the David Dickenson are you doing?" 

It happened after writing my last blog post.  I had spent lots of time beautifully re-arranging parts of my home.  Everything looked lovely.  There was a new energy in each of the rooms.  It felt great to see the differences I had made.  It was very satisfying.  There was nothing else to do.  Eveywhere was tidy, clean, complete.

So I started to look in the cupboards.  Peeking inside to find things that might need doing.  Maybe this cupboard could do with a sort out.  And that was when I knew I was going over to the dark side.

So I got out my paints and sat down in my creative space.

I had a wee think.

I had a look at my brushes.

I chose which paper I wanted to work with.

I wondered what people called the artistic, crafty equivalent of writer's block.  Painter's smudge?  Knitter's knot? 

I decided if I was going to do this, I was in for a penny, in for a pound.  So I took the lid off the brightest, reddest, most scarlet, tube of paint I could lay my hands on.

And gave it a squeeze.


No paint oozed from the nozzle.  There was no satisfying dollop of red paint in the pallet. 

I had a close look at the end of the tube of paint.  It all looked fine.

I had another squeeze.  Nothing.

So I gave it a really good, two handed, I mean business, I've finally sat down to paint and won't be thwarted kind of a squeeze.

And a lovely bright red, almost scarlet, arc of painted shot across the room.  In slow motion.

I watched as it passed the lamp.  The desk.  The calendar.  The cat.


And slashed it's way across my beautiful white curtains. 

I was being plagued by Creativity Gremlins again...  (You can read more about Creativity Gremlins here.) 

Here's another one so you get the full effect.

You can imagine my dismay.  A foot and a half of Accidental Creativity.

Then came the fiasco of getting the curtains down.  I managed to make a lovely design on myself actually.

I took my paint-soiled curtains, and my fairly paint-soiled self, into the bathroom and put the curtains in the bath.  I figured if I rinsed out the paint with cold water, maybe everything would be ok.

Watching the red water wash over my curtains, turning them a lovely pink, I felt a momentary flush of panic.  I may have uttered something that sounded a bit like "Jackson Pollocks".

So I took the curtains downstairs, put them in the washing machine and watched the wash turn a beautiful shade of raspberry ripple.


But now for the great news. 

I can personally vouch for the cleaning power of Ariel "Brrrrilliant Even At Low Temperatures" washing tablets.  Three cycles and six washing tablets later my curtains are back to their former glory.  Actually, they are in better form than their former glory. 

Because, in all honesty, they could have done with a bit of a wash.

P.S.  Have you experienced Accidental Creativity?

Small Differences. Big Changes.

Exploring being creative is a funny thing. 

It has made me look at day-to-day life in a completely different way.  I am beginning to find that creativity is starting to seep into everything I look at, do, and think about.  In a lovely, fluid way.  Not in a scary, obsessive way. 

Firstly, it started with my home.

I had vintage books on a bookcase.  All lined up neatly according to size and colour.  I'm a former teacher.  Organisation might be a bit of a thing with me.  The words "Monica" and "have you got OCD" may have been used near or around me.  Not any more.  My vintage books now sit displayed creatively in different parts of my lounge. 

They're still a little bit lined up according to size and colour, but at least they're off the shelf.

I got the idea of binding the books with ribbon from this lovely blog, here.

I used to make tea in the mug.  I now enjoy baking biscuits,  to eat with the tea I make in a china tea pot.  All served on a pretty tray with napkins and doilies.  Take a wee glimpse at Just My Cup of Tea.  

I used to avoid my kitchen.  Now I spend happy times there skidding on dropped eggs and baking.  I have even hung fairy lights from my plate rack.

Ooh, Pretty!

I have arranged everything in my kitchen so that the things I love to look at are displayed where I can see them while I'm knocking up a rude amount of shortcake.

My cocktail shaker and vintage icing sugar shaker,
for shaking things up in the kitchen.

I used to keep notes of things that came to mind in a journal.  It was completely miserable.  I now share my thoughts with you here on my blog.  Not so miserable.   

Being creative has started to seep into all areas of my life.  I've even started to change my appearance.  I've gone from my natural brunette, to a zingier, richer, copper chestnut.  I've stopped saving my "best" clothes for best and have started wearing things that make me smile and feel creative. 

I went out on Friday wearing a hairband with a big, floppy, black, satin bow attached to it.  It squeezed my head a lttle bit, but hey. 

I was carrying a vintage 1950's umbrella I recently found at my favourite reclamation shop.  I bought the umbrella to sit in my porch and look pretty.  As I came to leave the house it started to rain.  I picked up my vintage umbrella.  And got told that evening that I looked a bit like Mary Poppins carrying it.  Apparently the bow looked a bit Minny Mouse-ish.  

I even bumped into the man who runs my favourite reclamation shop.  He looked me up and down and told me I scrubbed up well.  I'm taking that as a compliment. I wondered what he was suggesting about the days he normally sees me in his shop.  I'm not pulling at that string.

I've been out shopping for the perfect shade of red lipstick to match my new hair.  I love red lipstick, and a lick of black eyeliner.


I'm having heaps of fun being creative me.  A little bit of vintage.  A lot of smiling. 

Being creative has really surprised me.  It's all about self-expression.  I kind of knew that already.  But knowing something, and really knowing it, are two different things. 

The surprise for me has been how limitless the possibilities are for creative self-expression.  Absolutely anything can be seen as creative.  Depending on your frame of mind. How you see it. 

I had books on a shelf.  Now they are beautiful items to look at.  They're still books.  I've just changed the way I see them.

I am self-expressing all over the place in my home and with my personal appearance.  I have been moving items around my home.  Lovingly displaying them.

Fairy lights around the mirror.

In an earlier post, My Creative Space, I wrote about how I converted my computer room into a "creative space".  Here is the old 1950's typewriter I had sitting up in the loft, now sitting on the desk, in my creative room reminding me how much I love to write.

I've reorganised my bedroom with vintage pictures and blousey flowers so there are pretty things to look at. 

Vintage photo frames, lace and pearls on the bedside table.

I've changed cushions, throws and lighting in my lounge, so that it's cosy, warm and welcoming to relax in.


I am, frankly, self-expressing all over the place. 

I've hung flowers and plants in the front garden, so that it looks colourful and inviting when I come home.  And it's so much fun.

The one thing that confuses me is that, so far, creativity, for me, hasn't been very much about making any jewellery, or painting any pictures, or exploring new mediums of self expression art-wise.  The canvas so far seems to be mainly my home and me.    

Over the past two months I have instinctively and systematically altered the appearance of each room in my home.  Slowly, thoughtfully and steadily.  I've tweaked here.  Moved an item there.  It has just felt like the right thing to do.  Not big changes physically.  But a shift in how I see things.  

And it feels more me.

And I've found myself dressing much more creatively.  A little bit of vintage.  A little bit of red.  A lot of smiling.

And this seems to be making a difference.  Something seems to be happening.

I find myself chatting to strangers more.  People smile at me a lot lately.  Friends have been telling me I look "different".  "Great".  I have random conversations with people I come across each day.  Warm chats.  About whether they prefer tea or coffee.  The weather.  The weekend.  Their health.  How they're doing.  

People seem to be warmer towards me.  Or maybe I'm warmer towards them.

Life feels easier somehow.

Even the cat is more relaxed.

I know these are small differences in my home.  Small differences in my appearance.  But it feels like a bigger difference in my thinking and way of looking at things.

My days feel fuller and more rewarding.

Is it because I'm having more fun being creative?

Is it because I'm wearing a big, floppy bow.  And people think I'm a little bit daft?  

Am I happier because I enjoy each day much more because I'm thinking about how to be creative?  

Is being creative really that powerful just two months in?

I'll keep you posted.

Just My Cup of Tea

A common thread through my blog posts, it seems, is that I like a nice cup of tea.  It's true. 

Courtesy of Illustrated, April 25th 1953.

I wake in the morning and cannot fully function until I have made a pot of tea and have drunk lots of it.  I also like a cup of tea late morning, early afternoon, and as I'm sitting chilling out in the evening.  I tell myself there are much worse things to be keen on than a nice cup of tea...  A friend of mine, for example, has a very unhealthy attachment to Jaffa Cakes.  (That's all I'm willing to say about that.) 

Until recently I used to make my tea in a mug.  Tea bag in.  Quick dunk.  Splash of milk.  But two months in to this creative journey, and yet again, something is changing. 

I went on holiday to Devon this summer.  Camping with my Significant Other.  In the World's Biggest Tent.  With feather duvet, feather pillows, and more woolly blankets than you could waggle a stick at.  Warm, fluffy loveliness.  (We learned our lesson last year with the Shell Island Incident of 2008.  Two days of rainstorms in a leaking tent.  Nuff said.)  

Each morning in Devon we would stumble bleary-eyed from our humungous circus-esque tent.  (Yes.  It was a bit of a blot on the landscape.  But we bought a green one so that we could do our best to blend in with the bushes.)  And put the kettle on.

The campsite where we were staying baked fresh croissants each morning for the campers.  Fresh.  Croissants.  Each tea shop we went into provided beautiful cups and saucers.  Shops throughout Devon offered home baked produce.  Fresh farm produce.  Organic locally grown produce.  Beautiful cakes, pastries, pasties, biscuits, sausages, pies, loaves, and cream teas.

 Courtesy of vintagepretties.typepad.com

Cream teas.

With scones, strawberry jam, clotted cream, tiny sandwiches with the crusts cut off, cakes, and fancies.

I spent quite a lot of the holiday saying things like...  "Just the one."  "It would be rude not to."  "Oh, go on then." "Why not?"  "I will as I'm on holiday."  "In for a penny in for a pound."

Quite a few pounds actually as it happened.

We were a little bit spoilt when it came to the tea and biscuits portion of the holiday programme.

My Significant Other and I visited a range of antique  and vintage shops and markets.  We like to discover "lost" things that need a new home.  I found a beautifully hand-embroidered silk tea cosy made in Japan for the Western market in the 1930's.

 And an antique pine rolling pin.


And a very fine pair of knitted dungarees and a bobble hat for my old teddy, Harrison.

(Harrison has a bit of a nasty streak, grumpy-wise, so we keep him on
stair-guarding duty to give him a channel for his latent anger.)

(Although Harrison was very pleased with his snappy new outfilt,
he is ever the professional and doesn't like to let his grumpy guard down.)

We came home.  I offered to make a cup of tea.  And dunked the tea bag in my mug and my Significant Other's mug.  We looked at each other sadly.  "Good Gordon.  Has it come to this?"

If Devon could take the time to create such beautiful eating fayre, surely one of us could be bothered to make tea in the pot and bake a cake.

I decided I wanted to have a go.  And see if I could get creative with my tea-making.

Out came my teapot, my new old tea cosy and my new antique rolling pin.

The metamorphosis was under way.  

And is now complete.

My tea pot.

I would like to announce that I now make my tea in the pot.  In.  The.  Pot.

I also bake shortcake to have with my tea.

I use napkins and sometimes, if I'm feeling really over the top, I throw in a doily.

Yes, you heard me.  Napkins and a doily.

I love butterflies.

I bake little cupcakes to eat with tea.  Orange flavoured cupcakes.  With orange sugar syrup.  Made with the juice squeezed with my own bare hands from real oranges.  If you don't believe me, take a wee look at this and this

Courtesy of labohememagique.blogspot.com

The biggest change has been that I enjoy doing this.  Really enjoy it.

It's a kitchen miracle!

I have gone from being a woman who would roll marine/SAS-style past her kitchen door to avoid entering.  To a woman who feels she is nurturing her friends and family, and herself, if she can offer them a home-baked cake or biscuit and a hot pot of tea when they visit.  With napkins and maybe a doily.

I used to chuck a rice cracker on a plate.  Begrudgingly.

No more.  

On my journey into creativity, I have become more like my nana.  Who believed that a nice cup of tea cured all ills.  Especially if you put a nip of whisky in it.

And I have to say, I think my nana was absolutely right.  Having tea involves taking time to share something warming, restorative and refreshing.  Eating a homemade cake or biscuit takes me back to being a child when I baked with my mum, aunt and nana.  And home-baked biscuits and cakes taste really great.  Sitting down with a nice cup of tea and a biscuit gives time to take a rest and breathe.  To have a think.  Have a daydream. 

Courtesy of tumblr.com

So, taking time to have a cup of tea and a home-baked biscuit has become Just My Cup of Tea.  Who knew? 

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