Category Archives: Higgins

A Grown-up Camera, a Digital SLR…

…ooh-er…

Yes, after umming and ahing for ages, I now have a shiny new digital SLR Camera, and I’m really quite excited about it!

It all began because I spotted fellow East Anglian and Sheepy person Penny, of Penny Lindop Designs, talking about how much she had got out of an online photographic course she had just finished.  I’ve always been slightly intimidated by ‘real’ photography and ‘proper’ cameras, with all the acronyms and numbers, lens and zooms, exposures and depth of field.  These days the automatic setting on a digital compact or the camera on a smartphone can take you a long way.  And having my little Canon IXUS 125 HS (you see, all initials and numbers!) tucked in my handbag is really handy.

However, it’s quite hard work getting the right sort of photos for Etsy, and occasionally for magazines. I end up having to do quite a lot of fiddling around in Photoshop before I’m happy with the result.

So I investigated the photographic course, read my way through the website and had a good chat with Penny about her experiences and decided it’s exactly what I need right now to get my creative juices going.  A new challenge.

You can do the course using a compact camera, but the advice is by the time you’ve got to the end you would be ready to move on so it seemed sensible to learn the ropes whilst getting used to new equipment.  And the bonus was that the recommended digital SLR camera is also a Canon, a make I’m really happy with.

I’m still a little reverential in my handling of this new and (to me) sophisticated bit of kit and it hasn’t been off automatic yet, but I love it!

It makes Higgins look extremely shiny…

Mini Dachshund…and the flowers in the garden look more beautiful than ever…

Flower Montage Digital SLR camera parcticeThe Course is aimed at Designers, Makers, Crafters and Sellers who want to photograph their products, and get to grips with styling, lighting and presentation and I’m really looking forward to learning all about it.  I’ve been having a play and just having the new camera has made such a difference already…

Planet Penny Products photo practice digital SLR camera

 I’m really looking forward to starting the course in September, it’s never too late to go back to school!

If you are interested in the course I think there are some places left, you can find out about it here at Photocraft, and do let me know if we are going to be classmates!

See you soon…x

Midsummer! and a Festival…

It’s hard to believe we’re now halfway through the year and in this little patch of Norfolk we were blessed with a warm sunny weekend in which to celebrate the Summer Solstice.

We are just back from a Midsummer Festival which took place just down the road from us at How Hill, a beautiful spot on the Norfolk Broads.  You might just remember me taking part in a craft fair there a couple of years ago.

How HillThe aim of the Festival was to celebrate the success of the Truly Local shop in the small town nearby, so of course all the stalls, producers and businesses were truly local too.

Truly Local Midsummer FestivalThere was such a lovely atmosphere, we bumped into family and friends, and a great time was had by all, including Higgins!

He was particularly helpful when it came to testing the deliciousness of the beefburgers…

mini dachshund2014-06-21 19.54.542014-06-21 19.55.24What a look of sheer bliss…

Then of course he had to sort out the washing up after icecream…

Vanilla…

2014-06-21 20.05.59Mint Choc Chip…

2014-06-21 20.06.01…and that icecream cornet, surely the pointy bit would go to waste otherwise…?

2014-06-21 20.16.42There were more stalls than I can mention individually, but these are the ones I know you would like to hear about…

It was great to meet Rachael of Foxglove and Gingersnap with her snazzy stitching.  I only knew her through Facebook, I love meeting up with my cyber friends in reality!

Foxglove and Gingersnap

… and Sue Maton of The Mercerie We only ever meet when we haven’t got time to talk properly! She has so many gorgeous things to tempt knitters and crocheters alike…

The Mercerie

The Mercerie Crochet BlanketPaul Williams, one of our Two Rivers Trail-ers was there with his wonderful wooden creations…

Woods World Wide(I now have a dinky little board made from a local fallen tree, exclusively for me to slice lemons on! G & T, anyone?)

And a  brilliant, serendipitous find, Ros Arrowsmith who makes beautiful ceramics with which I have completely fallen in love…

Ros Arrowsmith Ceramics

Ceramics by Ros Arrowsmith

Ceramics by Ros ArrowsmithI particularly love her quirky lettering style and giant handles.  It’s good to find something so fresh and different.

We finished with a walk round the Secret Garden, where my camera started complaining about it’s dying battery.  You can get a little flavour of it here… so peaceful and calm.Secret Garden How Hill, Norfolk

The visit concluded with tea and cake, what could be better?

Back home I’ve a new project on the go, a spin off from last week’s Needlefelt Workshop, and a commission to complete, so I’ll be back soon with photos.

I hope you’ve had a lovely weekend too, see you soon…x

(now where’s that gin and tonic…?)

The Joy of Open Studios

Norfolk & Norwich Open StudiosCould there been a better day taking part in Open Studios?  I don’t really think so.  The sunshine has been glorious and the sky blue…

decorated for Norfolk & Norwich Open Studios…the butterflies discovered the flowers on the courtyard and kept us entertained all day…butterfly on flower…and Higgins had a bath, specially!

mini dachshund after a bath

The Studio is still looking astonishingly tidy…Planet Penny Studio

…and we’ve had so many lovely visitors.

A lady from Yorkshire demonstrated tatting…

tatting

My best friend from Art School came with her husband and friends (and there was soon as much noisy laughter as there ever was when we were studying together!) Lots of local friends arrived to find out what we get up to and old pals from way back arrived to surprise us.

We got rather too excited when we discovered that two of our visitors ran a circus!  And that he was the clown and she was the Ringmaster!circus Ferrel

The clown really loved Higgins and I think the feeling was mutual so for a short while Higgins running away to join the circus was definitely on the cards.

And Emma from Silver Pebble came with her family and stayed and did crochet and finger knitting which was lovely…

Emma -  Silver PeppleWhen eventually every left to go home we sat on the verandah and ate strawberries, clotted cream and chocolate cake and agreed it had been a splendid day all round.

If you’ve ever wondered about taking part in Open Studios yourself, and it happens all over the UK,we would both thoroughly recommend it.  Yes, we make sales but its much more than that.  People are so interested in what we do and how we do it and it’s great when they go away enthused to try something creative themselves.

And there is still next weekend, so if you are in the area and would like to visit you can find out all about us and the rest of the Two Rivers Trail of which we are a part right here.

Hope to see you then…x

 

Hooray for the Little Red Hen!

Little Red Hen Ladybird Book

click for the story

This is the version of the Little Red Hen story I remember from way back in primary school, how we loved our Ladybird books!

We got to talking about it the other day because my friend Kit was reminiscing about her mum, sadly long gone, who used to quote the Little Red Hen when she had failed to get anyone else to do the necessary thing, whatever it was.

‘ “Then I’ll do it myself,” said the Little Red Hen. And so she did.’

I have been chuntering for ages about the overgrown state of my vegetable patch.  It always needs the most attention when I’m tied up with the run up to Open Studios and it’s got more and more overgrown, weedy and wild every season.  However, over the past two weeks I have channelled my inner Little Red Hen and I DID IT MYSELF!

It looks great….I’m exhausted!  I’ve filled a skip bag with rubbish, the beds are topped up with fresh compost and my little mini cold frame cum green house is crammed full of seed trays and seedlings.

Higgins has tried very hard to help.

Miniature Dachshund

Taking the little fences away from the raised beds has meant he could do lots in the way of turning over the soil, and then firming it down afterwards.dachshund in raised bed

He’s carried the trowel about helpfully (and put it away tidily where it couldn’t be lost)veg patch

More little fences have turned into a priority if any of the seedlings are going to make it to maturity once they have been planted out.  Higgins has history, remember the Mixed Greens?

Did you spot the laburnum tree?  This year it’s being completely wonderful – it alternates – and it’s very special as it was a seedling from the one in my parents’ garden.laburnum

And the bees LOVE it! For the last week or so, ever since the very first buds opened the air around the tree has been throbbing with the sound of very happy little bees…listen to this…

So this is why it’s been a little quiet here over the past week, and now there’s a lot of catching up to do.

While all this was going on the Green Man went off to the Forum in Norwich for the Open Studios Taster Exhibition – you can just see him dangling next to the patchwork…

Forum, Norwich NNOS taster exhibition

Taster Exhibition – setting up

Now it’s all systems go for the main event, which starts on May 24th.

You might like to see a glimpse of the other exhibition which was running at the same time, the most amazing knitted and crochet pergola which was made to raise funds for a local charity…

knitted pergola - John Grooms Court

knitted pergola detail

Just amazing, isn’t it?  There’s an interesting post on The Mercerie blog which will tell you more about it.

My next challenge is turning the studio into an exhibition space…eek!  I’ve just got so much STUFF.

And I haven’t forgotten about those extra little Boxes of Delight.…  2014-04-28 21.37.50

The challenge now is seeing just what I can squeeze inside, so watch this space, I’ll be back soon…x

Box of Delights – The Results

Good Morning! I hope your morning is as beautiful as ours is today…
hyacinths in Spring ukVery frosty first thing, but gorgeously bright and sparkly.

So it’s a good day to be awarding prizes.  Firstly I have to say thank you again for the wonderful comments, it really has been heart lifting, and makes me feel another 500 posts may well be possible.  I wish I could write to each and every one of you but there were 100 entries!

And I always feel bad when I do a giveaway because I can’t give something to everyone so I decided to add in four extra runners up to spread the delight a little further.  In the past I have used my trusty helper to draw a winning name.  We used a basket once…

mini dachshund drawing winning ticket…and of course the hat…

Mini Dachsie & winning ticket…but it involved a lot chasing around to find out who’s name actually came out of the hat…

mini dachsie winning ticket…and it’s awfully damp and spitty.  Also, there were so many this time…

list for Box of Delights…that I used the Random Number Generator which involves no chasing, and no chewed paper. So without further ado, and a big drum roll I am very pleased to announce that the winning number was 96 and the Box of Delights goes to Pennie, in East Sussex.  The four runners up are number 14 – Sue Cambell in Alabama, number 15 – Cindy Wilson in Canada, Number 46 – Toffeeapple of Buckinghamshire and 48 – Linda Thorpe of Norfolk.

I shall share the runners-up prizes as I create them, it’s sparked another idea!  Thank you all again for taking part.

And thank you too for all the supportive and concerned comments regarding our adventure with the fire last week.  Everything is tidy and soot free in the room now and I’ve pinned a dust sheet over the fireplace as we await builders’ estimates.  It’s not going to be a quick job, alas, Higgins and I are both snuggled under blankies in the evening now!

dachsie in a blanketSee you soon…!

 

 

The Year in Books

I mentioned serendipity in my last post, as that is what led me to a blog I hadn’t visited before, and a project ‘A Year in Books’ which is just what I need to rejuvenate my flagging spirits.

I’ve written before about my book habit, but over the years I’ve bought more and more books to feed the creative side of things, practical stuff, craft books, cookery books. My fiction reading has dwindled to 10 or 15 minutes a night in bed. Dozing off after a few minutes means that I end up rereading the same paragraph over and over trying to remember what is going on.

One of my decisions about slowing down and living in the real world a bit more was to put down the smart phone and pick up a book.  This was why when I visited Penelope by the Sea on her lovely blog,  L is for Love, I found she had discovered the perfect incentive on ‘A Circle of Pine Trees’.

Laura has created a reading project, nothing unattainable, of reading and sharing a book a month over the year.  It can be shared on her blog via a linky button, on Instagram or Pinterest, a great way to find recommendations for new authors and books.   All the details are in Laura’s post here, if you are interested in joining in.

My book for January is the latest Mark Haddon, which I bought on Liverpool Street Station on my way back from Aimee’s graduation a month ago (and hadn’t looked at since!) …

Mark Haddon - The Rewd House - A Year in Books

I made a start this morning in a packed hospital waiting room. Much better to get stuck into a book than fuming about my appointment being an hour overdue!  So thank you to Laura for devising the idea, and for Penny for pointing me in the right direction…

Meanwhile, unlike so many other places in the UK, we had a glorious start to the day so I wandered round the garden with Higgins to see what was going on.

The snowdrops are nearly up!

snowdrop buds

There are primroses…

January Primroses…and tiny miniature cyclamen…

cyclamen…and still at the end of the garden, a rose is blooming…

January RoseHiggins, meanwhile still dives into his bed to hide when his coat is put on and he knows he has to go for a walk, however bright the sunshine!

miniature dachshund in bedThank you for all the encouraging comments on my last post.  It seems I’m not alone in feeling a little jaded, I think a lot of us are experiencing post Christmas burnout!

Onwards and upwards….see you soon…x