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Duddingston Sketching Meet

For those of you who live in Edinburgh or close by, this is an opportunity to observe, be creative and relax in the most magical of gardens. We will be meeting up in Duddingston this coming Tuesday to draw/sketch/paint with our own materials and would love if you could join. We hope to briefly walk round the village and take a few snaps (probably in our wellies and with umbrellas – let’s be honest), then head to Doctor Neil’s garden where we will have access to the gardeners’ shed.

I’ve been in love with Duddingston for a good long while so sharing this love with like-minded creative folk is a dream come true. If you can’t manage this Tuesday but would be interested in taking part next time, let me know by email. Also, Edinburgh has so many little villages so I hope this will be the first of many similar local meets.

Cost: This is a free mini-event but the gardeners would appreciate a small donation for the use of their shed.

Meeting Point: At the gates of Duddingston Kirk, 5:30pm.

RSVP: Email me if you’d like to come along. The shed is quite small so numbers are limited. It would be good to know if you would prefer tea or coffee (and how you take it) and most importantly, if chocolate is a good cake option.

NB: This is not a class, everyone will be doing their own artwork independantly.

Any more questions? Drop me an email.

The 100 Day Project

Hi all! Since I last posted, I’ve taken time off commissions and big projects to focus on family life. We’re hoping to sell our flat and move sometime soon (EEEKK!!). Having said that, me being me, I couldn’t just stop art altogether!! So along with a bunch of folk on Instagram, I am taking 100 days to create something new each day. All of us are creating different things in different ways.

My project: Paint tiny watercolours every day. This will see us through the summer months and I’ll hopefully learn a lot along the way. I look forward to the simple joy of creating and that sense of accomplishment that comes with self-discipline and working through ‘blaaa’ moments.

My subject: Little details I’ve seen while exploring cities and villages around the world. So far, this has included street lights, windows, vehicles, and other little treasures in places such as Rome, Cambridge and Paris. I’m hoping to soon move on to more exotic places such as Port Louis, in Mauritius or Lagos, Portugal as well as bigger capital cities such as New York or London.

Materials used so far:

  • Daler Rowney ‘The Langton’ watercolour paper
  • Micron black ink fine-line pen (0.05mm)
  • Daler Rowney Round aqua-fine  brush
  • Pentel water brush
  • Windsor and Newton watercolour paints
  • Generals Layout 555 Graphite pencil

NB: I have not been paid or sponsored to mention or recommend these product, these are my personal preferences just now and they may change!

This is one of my pieces on Paris.

Check out more of my project so far here.

Talk soon!

6 ways to bring the Hygge experience home

What happens when you’ve just been on a magical break and want to bring some of that magic home? And what if you’ve fallen in love with the Hygge experience but don’t have pinetrees and snow on your doorstep, nor do you live in a log cabin with a wood burning stove?

Of course, coming back home from a break is always hard (for obvious reasons) but surely the better we learn to rest at home throughout the year, the easier it will be to return home in the future!?

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the Hygge way of living and having experienced it a little on our recent holiday (see previous post), here are six simple and practical ways I’m planning on embracing the Hygge manifesto here in Edinburgh. None of this stuff is rocket science and much of it we probably do instinctively but I’d like to be more purposeful and confident in how I relate to my home, hospitality and relaxation.

1. Get outside, go explore

Explore. Be adventurous. Go for a walk. Enjoy some fresh air and vitamin D. I just heard yesterday that Edinburgh has more trees per person than any other city in GB (is this true?).  As well as the little parks, we have some fantastic opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. Arthurs Seat and the Pentlands are ideal for gentle hill walking. Salty sea air is just a stone’s throw away with beloved Portobello, Cramond Island, South Queensferry or Musselburgh close by. We can easily jog or cycle the Water of Leith and the Union Canal. We don’t have any excuses. And if it rains, get those wellies on! Thanks to Peppa Pig, our kids love muddy puddles! During these cold wintery months, coming home from a trip outside is a real treat, especially when we have hot chocolate and marshmallows in our cupboard.

2. Bring nature inside

I want to minimalise my interiors, de-clutter and bring the outside in. Most of our flooring and interiors are made of wood, for which I’m grateful but I’m missing my plants. Plants are great! I used to have SO many before having kids. We gave them all away because our eldest kept attacking them as a toddler. But I’ve just discovered clever ways to hang them up. In coming weeks, I’d also like to make decorations with treasures found outdoors to hang up (see drawings above).

3. Make home super cozy

Coveting warning! We live in a small and modern flat and don’t have a wood burning stove. It’s very easy to get envious of others who have one or dream of an ideal home… which we may get 10 years down the line. Or may not. I need to stop right there, be where I am and make my space work. As Vivienne Westwood says: “Buy less, choose well”. We’re investing in candles, good lighting and getting those good old woollen blankets back out. I’d also like to get knitting some chunky cushion covers (I don’t know how to knit but I’m sure SOMEONE who can teach me).

4. Have friends over

Hygge is about togetherness, community and equality. Invite friends over for a crafts night or to watch a movie or to enjoy a simple meal together. They can help cook. A friend of ours once came over straight from work, via the shop and cooked for us. We chatted while cooking and it was one of the most relaxed evenings I can remember. Such a blessing! It doesn’t have to be a one-man show – which can add pressure and competition. There are so many opportunities to have friends over. The 6 Nations, Wimbledon or other big sporting events are great for togetherness.

5. Turn your TV, laptop and phone off

Easier said than done but so worth it. One of my goals is to rearrange our livingroom so that the TV isn’t the focal point. Not sure how to do this but I’m working on it. Recently we bought an Ercol seat from the 1960’s on Gumtree. It is quickly becoming my favourite place to rest. The challenge is to be disciplined and turn off social media. Decide to be where you are.

6. Be grateful

Keep a thankfulness log. As Meik Wiking says in his book ‘The Little Book of ‘Hygge’ :  “Take it in. This might be as good as it gets”. My Thankful Thursday Notes have been such a joy and have helped me look at the bright side of things. I want to keep that up! On a much more personal note though, this discipline also helps me to remember how blessed we are as a family and how much God is taking care of us. Right now.

 

Crieff Hydro – Our Scandi-Scot experience

Last week, we had a wonderful break at Crieff Hydro, in Perthshire, Scotland. Don’t think you can get much closer to magical. Our sons built their first ever snow men and I wasn’t on social media much which was so good for my soul. We went on little expeditions and found many treasures. We were just 1h30 away from home but it felt like we had landed in Narnia.

My Gallery:

         

My Highlights:

  • Our Cozy Cabin was extraordinary. It was a bargain at £211 for 4 nights (granted, I kept my eyes on their lowest prices of the year). They’ve decorated the cabin ‘Hygge style’ which I missed the minute we left. With a wood burning stove, cozy blankets, scandi lighting, furniture and artwork on the walls, you couldn’t have been more relaxed.
  • Their welcome basket was unexpected and full of local goodies (including jam, biscuits, herbal tea and ground coffee).
  • The childcare was included in the overall price and the kids loved it. Mike and I enjoyed a few dates. The trick is to balance this with family time too.
  • The pool was a big hit with our toddlers. There were 2 big containers full of water toys (watering cans, boats etc) to play with. The water was at the perfect temperature and their family changing rooms were well thought-through (one of them even had a waterproof play pen)
  • Their mountain biking cafe ‘the Hub’ has great coffee and lots of ‘bicycle decor’ which of course I’m a big fan of… One poster said : “You can’t buy happiness but you can buy a bike and that’s pretty close.” I agree.
  • Their Winter Garden cafe has lovely baking (with yummy looking gluten free options) and great views over the valley.
  • Crieff (town) and the surrounding area are worth visiting. You can go by foot or hire a bike from the resort (from £5, helmet included).

Check out self-catering holidays at Crieff Hydro HERE.

www.crieffhydro.com

Read 6 ways to bring the Hygge experience home.

A Cozy Day of Crafts at The Purple Thread Shed – Roslin, near Edinburgh

Just before Christmas, while most people were running wild from one shop to the next, I spent a wonderfully cozy day with my sister-in-law making treasures in a little shed, in Roslin. Our project was to make a bespoke home decoration, cleverly called ‘Patchwood Samplers’.

All of Ali’s workshops have something in common: thread. For this particular project, the idea was to sew decorated blocks of wood together.

I was hoping to give my little creation as a Christmas gift to my mum and was keen to make it really personal. My aim was to bring different seasons of her life together into one piece that she could hang up in their sitting room. This included a black&white photo of her early years in Northern Ireland, a symbol of her career in physiotherapy, the letters B&C representing a happy marriage with my dad, a fineline drawing of our beloved childhood house in France and one of the Victorian manse she currently lives in. Ali demonstrated the skills required and she provided the wood, materials and tools.

 

 

My Highlights:

  • Ali is a great teacher, she takes time to show you techniques and is super patient.
  • The shed is full of original gems from all around the world and this creates a very inspiring atmosphere.
  • It was great having a whole day (10am-4pm) to work on my project. We didn’t feel rushed at any point.
  • Ali was willing to share her lovingly collected treasures with us to make our projects even more beautiful (personally, I’d struggle giving them away but she was very generous).
  • Ali runs several types of workshops including ‘Environmentals: Frames & Hearts’, ‘Personal Patchwork Lampshades’, ‘Rusted Samplers’, etc . Part of the fun was to think of what I’d want to do at my next visit… I’m leaning towards ‘Handmade Journals’.

I can’t wait to be back.

Find Ali’s workshop schedule (booking available until June 2017) here. Get Ali’s news via her website, or follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

www.aliferguson.co.uk

Exploring Hopetoun at Christmas

Hopetoun House

You know that scene in Pride and Prejudice when you get to behold Darcy’s home for the first time? When you gasp with delight at its grandeur… What will happen next? Will we see inside?

When you drive into the grounds of Hopetoun House, you get a similar feeling. And when it’s for their Christmas Fair, not only are you warmly welcomed, you become a guest for a day. The minute I walked in, the Christmas season had officially begun. The atmosphere was exquisitely warm and the quality of the products was excellent.

My highlights

  • Tasting some awesome luxury chocolate by Charlotte FlowerLinton&Co‘s seasalt caramel brownies and Shortbread House of Edinburgh orange&dark chocolate shortbread. There was also all sorts of liqueurs but I was driving.
  • Checking out a great variety of Scottish products and daydreaming over Heather Elder‘s stunning jewellery.
  • Meeting Scottish designer Cherith Harrison (super kind).
  • Enjoying wonderful smells of firewood burning in the fireplace in several spots and Christmas potpourri.
  • Washing my hands in their bathroom (great soap and hand cream).
  • Being guided in by some very helpful valet parking attendants (with a good sense of humour).
  • Exploring a quiet stroll round their grounds afterwards with a coffee in hand and seeing a pheasant&a robin run past me.

Photo Gallery – Hopetoun House

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More Information

Cost: £6 entrance

Address: Hopetoun House, EH30 9RW

Website: www. hopetoun.co.uk

The Beauty of a Notebook

For decades, artists have been known to carry a notebook around with them. I remember learning this very early on and have kept one on me pretty systematically ever since. In her book ART INC. Lisa Congdon says:

“Bring a blank journal with you everywhere. When pockets of time open up, you can pull it out to sketch, draw or brainstorm ideas.”

My Notebook

People often ask me what I use my notebook for. So here’s a little list (I love making lists):

Thankful Thursday Notes  every Thursday I doodle what the highlights of my week have been, just on time to make plans for the following week and start to unwind for the weekend. Click here for a post I wrote recently on Thankful Thursday Notes.

Planning and To-Do lists  There are so many amazing resources out there to help you plan. Calendars have known a little revolution recently. Instagram is full of genius folk who manage to make up their own planners. I try as well and it’s a lot of fun. The key though is to be realistic with what you can actually achieve. Otherwise you spend your life shifting the exact same list from one page to the next.

Sketchnoting and Church notes   It is a trendy thing just now but many of us have done it for years. It helps process information. As a kid, I learned very early on how to take notes, probably like most kids who go to church. My Dad is a pastor so I grew up hearing sermons week after week. I soon found out that taking notes made that experience a whole lot more fun. Later, when I became a Christian, I wanted to process information better and LEARN.

Business Notes – It’s important to take effective notes when you get a brief, sometimes this happens in a meeting or over the phone. Often a conversation will happen very quickly and you will be expected to remember details you’ve discussed (budget, goals, themes, influences, etc. ). It’s good to keep these notes in one place.

Practicing Skills Just For Fun – As an illustrator and artist, I need a place to freely draft logos and scribble  and just doodle for the sake of doodling!! I want to keep practicing live sketching and scribble observations just for the process so this is a safe place for to do that.

Taking Part in Challenges – In June, I found myself lacking direction in my style. So I set myself some boundaries (a little like being back at college). I created my own little Instagram challenge. So my structure was this: use a calligraphy pen to doodle and write in my notebook, once a day for 100 days. There are real benefits in narrowing down possibilities as creativity often needs a little bit of structure.

The 100 Day Challenge

I noticed a few things along the way:

  1. Being disciplined is hard work. This was the summertime, everyone around me was relaxing and I could have just snoozed (quite happily) but I kept going.
  2. Best to keep things simple at first and aim high towards the end. Practising your skill everyday makes you more comfortable. You can manage more in that same amount of time.
  3. Frustration due to structure can be helpful. I experienced frustration in only using black. Through this experience, I realised how much colour was important to me and I knew that I wouldn’t be content with a black&white portfolio.
  4. Community is good! Letting everyone out there see your work online is a bit daunting and sometimes scary but it’s so worth it!! You feel vulnerable at first but with time, your expertise grows. You develop a community of encouragers who thank you for your hard work.

At the end of my 100 day challenge, I had a better idea of how I wanted to use my notebook. I’m excited to see how that will develop even more in coming months. What could you do for 100 days to improve a skill? Why not share your journey and develop a community.

I love seeing how people use their notebooks. There are so many folk willing to share their galleries. Go have a browse. You’ll be amazed.

This Autumn’s Thankful Thursday Notes

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Thankful Thursday Notes has been a true blessing! I've found the process so helpful, it's fair to say it's a little therapeutic. My little notebook has never been this colourful!

Since starting back in October, several other creatives have joined in. They have shared their notes with the rest of us and have made the entire process so incredibly exciting. To witness this has been a real joy. They have all expressed how good it has been to pause and reflect. Although all of us probably did this before starting the process, we would probably all agree that sharing what we are thankful for invites both ourselves and others to look out for the little blessings in our every day life. And within this short space of time, we have all improved our creative skills and that makes the experience even more rewarding.

With the busyness of the Christmas season coming up, it will be a challenge to keep it up. Carving out time and being disciplined isn't easy, especially when you've had a super busy week and your favourite TV show is calling. However, this exercise will have all the more value. How lovely will it be in years to come to review these notes! I look forward to this! And I can't wait to see what everyone else will be sharing this Christmas.

Thankful Thursday Notes

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It's not too late to join! All you need to do is doodle/scribble/draw/paint what you are thankful for, take a pic, upload it to Instagram and use the hashtag #ThankfulThursdayNotes.

Next Friday, I hope to share some of my favourite posts from others' Thankful Thursday Notes and introduce you to this amazing community.

If you haven't already done so, please subscribe below to receive new blog posts as I publish them. Thanks!

Thankful Thursday Notes

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Thankfulness

Thankfulness is good for the soul. And this is especially true when we live in a world where we’re bombarded by ‘you need THIS and you need THAT’ to be truly happy, forever and ever. Everyone will have different coping mechanisms to fight that ‘mmmm…. the grass is DEF greener on THAT side…’ type of feeling. I find journaling helps me count my blessings a bit more. It helps me stop and be still for a while. As a result, it helps me trust God a bit more too. In actual fact, I have quite a lot to be truly thankful for. Sometimes I write and draw about outstanding, extra-ordinary moments like a very sweet gathering, or a birth, or an incredibly fun event. But most often, it’s the simple blessings which feature most – a cup of coffee, seeing a rainbow or hearing one of my sons sing.

Why Thursdays?

Journaling on a Thursday encourages me to reflect on the week before it’s over. It also prepares my mind to rest well at the weekend and efficiently plan for the following week. Back when I was a teacher, I used to plan the following week on a Thursday because, come Friday, I’d be too excited about my weekend activities! Being a full-time mum is slightly different now but the same theory applies.

Want to join?

Over the past year, I’ve taken part in several challenges on Instagram. I can’t begin to explain how much I’ve learnt by doing this. It’s a little like going back to university. You have experts and you have students. You also have community and fun. But best of all, you get to improve in your field. In this case, the field is both our character (encouraging a spirit of thankfulness) and our creative skills (writing, painting, drawing, whatever you want to improve on). Join in and share your Thankful Thursday Notes on Instagram (use the hashtag #ThankfulThursdayNotes). I’ll also be posting my Thursday post and will feature some of yours the following day. Can’t wait to see your blessings!

Welcome to my website!

welcome to my website

Hi everyone, welcome to my website AT LAST!! I’m so excited to have this platform, which in essence is a little virtual scrapbook. I’m hoping to develop this blog in coming months so please stay tuned.

What to expect from the blog…

Among the things I’m most excited about are my video tutorials on basic journaling and sketch-noting techniques, a larger photo gallery and diary drawings/notes of my explorations and of course new collections in my shop (won’t be long ’til I’ll share my Christmas collection). So talk soon!