Painting again...

I have decided to start painting again.
I have done the odd painting over the years but so little I am ashamed to say.
It was in my teens at art college that I last painted with any consistencey.
Anyhow several days ago something just felt right. I remembered bizarrely my love of gouache, a medium I haven't thought about in a long time.
I order a cheep sketchbook and set of gouache off the Internet and waited patiently for them to arrive.
Since then I am proud to say I have painted almost everyday.
I am recording my sketchbook painting journey on my instgram account.
Here are a few of my pictures....
I had a little play with making the turtle a black shape with the sun behind shining into the blues and greens of the sea.
Working instinctively painting one of our 1970s wooden deer.
Playing about with perspective, deliberately making the cup and saucer flat.
Beautiful little strawberry the Guinea pig, I think this is my favourite so far.
I am really please with what I have already learned in such a short time. Most important of all, I am really really enjoying my little daily painting sessions.....mmmmhh what to paint today?

A Tale of Two Heads

A couple of animals heads to go on Bumblebee and Hummingbird's bedroom wall were requested.
First the decision on who was making what...
Bumblebee decided on a fox and hummingbird decided on a Guinea pig!
After making the initial head shape with screwed up newspaper and masking tape we started to paper mache.
We used PVA glue and lots of pieces of torn newspaper.
It was a beautiful sunny day...
Paints were set up for dragonfly while we all got sticky.
Dragonfly loves to paint pictures...
Dragonfly loves to paint his head...
Dragonfly loves to feel the paint between his fingers...
But he LOVES eating paint the best!
The first coat is done. I think we need to do at least a couple more before we start to paint. Personally I won't be eating my paint though!

Blueberry and Oatmeal Muffins with Naughty White Chocolate Sprinkles

I have often, unsuccessfully, tried to make muffins. They usually end up flat rubbery round things which have a strange chewy consistency...but not this time. So I thought I would share my recipe...

250g self raising flour
85g fine oatmeal
150g sugar
Small punnet of blueberries
2 eggs
50ml olive oil
150ml milk

Makes about 12 muffins

1. Put the flour, oatmeal and sugar into a large bowl.
2. Measure out your oil and milk and beat in your eggs.
3. Add the liquid mix to the dry mix and stir as little as possible. There may be a few floury lumps round the edges this is the key, do not over stir.
4. Mix in the blueberries as gently as you possibly can.
5. Place 12 muffin cases into a muffin tray and spoon your mixture equally to each case.
6. Pop in a 200c, 400F, gas mark 6 oven for 15 minutes or until the tops are just starting to change colour and they feel springy to touch.
8. As soon as you take them out of the oven, sprinkle with your chosen naughty chocolate sprinkles. 
9. Let them cool a little before moving to a cooling rack.
10. Put the kettle on, make yourself a brew and enjoy one of your lovely muffins. Enjoy. 

Zoo Photography

A couple of weekends ago we went up to Dalton in Furness in Cumbria to the South Lakes Safari Zoo. It is free entry until 12/2/16, bonus.
Apart from having very excited children! it gave me a great opportunity to have a play with my DSLR. I was lucky enough to get the Pentax K-50 camera a couple of birthday ago. To be quite honest I have developed quite a love hate relationship with this camera. Going from a basic point and shoot to a 'proper camera' has been very frustrating for my sleep deprived baby brain. I was pregnant when I first relieved it and our little boy still does not sleep through the night, often waking several times.
I just haven't had the time or energy to study or even begin to understand how it works. I have had several books out from the library but often they have been returned without even being opened, tut,tut... but determined to get off manual mode I have kept having a go, getting frustrated, going back to my point and shot, then picking it up again.
The trip to the zoo was the first light at the end of the tunnel as I am finally starting to understand it!
It was also a great opportunity to just take photos for the love of it.
Peacock photo as requested by Hummingbird, they are one of her favourite animals along with hedgehogs!
 I love this photo,
 Technically it is over exposed but I love how the cockatoo blends into his background.
This time one of my favourite animals, anteaters, they were very lively at this visit running round like crazy things. I love how this photos almost makes them look like woolly mamoths.
 Another of my favorate photos. I love the expression on her face, her big trout pout.
 Hummingbird was quite taking with the giraffes and how tall they were.
 Beautifully colourful duck. I could use this palette of colours for so much. A beautiful cosy interior room, a crochet blanket, snuggle cushions, patchwork....aargh my mind is a whirrrr....
 I quickly took this photo on our way to the cafe for a warm and a portion of chips each.
 Bumblebee's favourite animal, the fennec fox.
 My most favourite animal ever, alas it was asleep, the sleeping sloth, best I could do....
There is a great big enclosure you can walk through full of condors and vultures. They fly above your head...
or block your path looking very hungry!
One took a particular liking to D, tugging on his coat, and the straps of the baby carrier. It even had a peck at one of dragonflies boots.
Speaking of hungry, this leopard was sat waiting patiently for its lunch. It was particularly interest in any small children running along the side of its cage!!!
None of my pictures are of proffesional standard I know, but for a beginner using a manual focus lense, I am really rather chuffed. I took loads of photos and loads were blurred but maybe this camera and do have a future together after all.

January Where Have You Gone

Where did January disappear too?
I had so many plans....
I blame the weather, am I allowed to do that?
It made me hide inside and knit, knit socks actually, yes I have finally faced my fear and had a go at knitting socks!
Yes I am now a crazy sock knitting lady, picking up my tiny pixie sized needles at every opportunity, a few rows here and there. I am following the wonderfully easy pattern on the Winwick Mum blog, the sock pattern can be found here

I have done other things honestly.
I started the first exercise in the Drawing Lab book I borrowed from the library. I was hoping to complete all the exercises this year, one a week as there is 52 in the book but I am a little behind!!!
I blame the socks, am I allowed to do that?
Anyway it is a really great book. The first exercise you have to lie in bed! yes that is right... and spend ten minutes drawing cats from memory.
I do apologize to any cat lovers/owners out there. My drawings are not intended to cause offence!
There has been lots of playing in January too. My little dragonfly is just at that age where he is a whole lot of monkey.
Toys are frequently put into the dogs water bowl as well as into the kitchen pedal bin.
Anything he can get his hands on goes down the toilet if the door is left open.
Faces have been painted with felt pen as well as food!
I found him yesterday waving the hoover pipe around while wearing a pair of Hummingbirds dressing up silver high heeled shoes!!! 
I on the other hand have been drinking lots of hot chocolates with whipped cream and marshmallows.
I have been scoffing lots of home baking and stodge laden winter food.
In order to burn off all those lovely calories we have had some lovely long local walks in between all the rain showers.
We did have snow for a weekend though....
We fitted in a huge amount of snowbased fun over the weekend.
We had snowball fights
Built a very ugly snowman.
Went sledging...
And laughed at Dragonfly's amazement of snow.
All in all it has been a wonderful but very tiring start to the year.
I wonder what February will hold...

Pebbles the Fox

While Hummingbird was at a birthday party over the weekend, Bumblebee asked for some sewing time with mummy.
We decided we would make a fox.
Let me introduce you to Pebbles the Fox!
I think she is really rather cute. Bumblebee is over the moon with her.
First Bumblebee drew a picture of a fox.
Next we chose some fabric. Bumblebee was very certain which fabrics and in what order.
We cut Pebbles out, attached the white felt onto the spotty fabric for the nose and tail, machined round the outside before stuffing and adding eyes and nose. Bumblebee sat on my knee and helped guide the fabric through the sewing machine. Bumblebee loves looking through all my craft bits.
Interestingly she chose a black button for the nose which was a spare for a little black dress I used to have about twenty years ago and wore to my hubby's graduation party! The buttons for eyes were from an old pair of my pj's.
Its funny how I can remember where nearly all my buttons come from. I remember things in colour order. This is one of the reasons I like to keep my books in colour order, much easier to find, I find, even though hubby finds this bonkers!