01 February 2016

Vegetable sketches.

Saturday morning after shopping, I was having my mid morning coffee,
and reading the blogs I follow.
 I saw that Ronelle from africantapestry
who writes and paints was
also having a mental block with her painting.
So I wasn't feeling so bad after reading that.
She describes this as losing her 'mojo'
Her post that day was vegetables.
ah - ha  I thought !

I'd just emptied the shopping bag,
full of colourful fruit & vegetables onto the kitchen worktop, 
and although I don't particularly like painting still life
the colours certainly looked tempting to paint. 
As I'd been lacking ideas to re-start watercolour sketch painting,
 and Ronelle who's style of painting I love
I thought this was an omen, I decided to get painting.

I'd recently been to a craft shop and bought a basic sketch pad, 
thinking this will get me started again.

Then when I feel I've really got my interest back,
I can go back to using my Moleskine journal again.

Paints and palette all ready.

A nice fresh bunch of Radish, almost like a posy of flowers
just waiting to be painted,
and delicious as well.

Painting palette, not touched for so long, all the blobs of paint dried up.
but amazingly just a few drops of water brought most of them back.

After a wobbly beginning, I used my Micron pens
and then mixed a few different shades of green.

 I roasted the Fennel with the potatoes, it was very tasty.

So thank you  Ronelle for the vegetable sketch you shared.
and my followers who have been encouraging me 
to do some painting. at least I've made a start.

When the weather improves 
I'll get out and try some scenic views and buildings for a change.
 I've joined an on-line painting course given by
who paints wonderful street sketches and snow scenes.
I'm hoping I'll learn something.
This is one of her paintings.

Winter snow scene by Shari Blaukopf

I'll be doing some (I mean a lot of ) practise lessons first,
before I show any of my efforts.

I'll say good bye
I hope you liked my sketches
and will come back again soon.

à bientôt
Barbara Lilian

26 January 2016

Pretty Pansy Faces

Pansies are one of my favourite winter flowers, 
I plant some every autumn.
I love their flowers heads they remind me of smiley faces
 This year I put two troughs on the south side of the house 
and they were safely sheltered from our storm last week. 
Troughs of pansies in full bloom.
Early morning photo taken from the window.
these are dwarf pansies

 and we've been enjoying seeing them in flower for some time.

Then after a view days of warm sunshine 
  the tête à tête daffodils quickly came into bloom.

These tête à tête  daffodils are from a few years ago,

 I planted them a little later, than the others.

Last year I planted them in hanging baskets.

after they've finished flowering, I store them in a plant pot in the shed.  
I found a few more that had been forgotten,they'd already started to shoot .
so while the sun was shining I quickly shoved them into a trough.
Can't really call that gardening.can I ? at the moment.
I'm sorry to say it, but I'm not very enthusiastic .
Do you ever get like that ?
 please tell me it's not just me.

Thought I'd show you a few my pansy paintings
that I've made into cards.

they were painted a few years ago. 

I thought if I looked at some of my paintings
it might give me some encouragement, to start again.
I've set up a trestle table, found my sketch books and paper !
So ... until my next post, when ever that will be, I might surprise you.
Might be paintings or progress in the garden.

à bientôt

Barbara Lilian

23 January 2016

How lucky we were.

Our weather forecast was hail and some high winds !
It all happened so quickly, we heard the hailstones on the windows,
the noise of the wind in the trees, and then saw things flying past the window.
It was recorded as a mini tornado, and we must have been in the eye of it.
We were so lucky......

If these very large high trees  had fallen in the other direction,
 the cottage would now just be rubble.
That's the corner of our cottage on the edge of this photo.

We are just thankful that it was just the road that was blocked
and the trees hadn't fallen on the cottage.

The electricity and telephone cables were brought down 
and we don't get a signal to use our mobile phones........
Fortunately the road which passes our house joins another road. 
so we were able to get out and alert the local commune.
Who quickly alerted the necessary services 
The next day a team of 4 men came to cut the fallen trees
 and clear the road so that the electric & telephone 
cables could be fixed back on the poles.
As we are so rural our cables have still to be put under-ground.
Now the huge tree trunks on the side of the road.
Not sure how long they will remain there,
as the owner of this land is now in a retirement home,
and in France everyone is responsible for looking after their own land !

Do you remember seeing pictures of our lovely pergola ?
during the summer it's covered in a grape vine 
with a Bignone/Campsis - orange trumpet climber.

This is what it looks like now.

Most of the boundary fencing was in bits
 and the rest was blown away.

I know it's sad when trees that have have been there for years, 
are damaged by storms, but these had never been managed 
and were far to high and too close to our property,
so in a way we are happy.

Can you believe that this window decoration remained in place,
it was on a sheltered wall.

I've just seen the news on our television
and seen how many states in the USA
are being given warnings of severe snow storms .
To all of you that maybe affected, I hope you stay warm and safe.

Weather permitting, I'm hoping that soon
I'll be able to get on with preparing some raised flower-beds
for the new David Austin roses I've chosen.
( with  help from Mr France of course. )

I'll be back when the storm damage is cleared up,
and the flower-beds prepared,

So until then .

à bientôt
Barbara Lilian

16 December 2015

Some decorating and easy mince-pies.

Some outside decorating.
Using fresh greenery and berries I've collected
and things I've dried over the year.

The first wreath I made,
 now hangs on the door at my daughters house.

Some outdoor decorating with lanterns.

Peeping in the window.

Every year at Christmas time I make mince-pies.
 For those of you who are not familiar with these spicy little tart-lets
 this is what they look like.

I don't make my own mince-meat I cheat a little and use a bought jar of good quality mince meat and add a slug of brandy, along with a few other extras
like grated orange peel a few cranberries & some chopped nuts. 
 .... but if you do want to make your own, take a look here
 Daphne always makes her own.

But this way is quick & easy.

This year I'm going to try something totally different.
It's a Jamie Oliver recipe, he used bought mince meat in a jar
along with ready made puff pastry and filo pastry sheets, 
so even chefs cheat,

Perfect mince pies

Jamie's Mince-pies  they look so different.

Just to finish off
 I wanted to show you this lovely vintage enamel plaque
 I found it at a Christmas market.
It's been made into a coat hook-hanger.

I think I'm all organised now, 
what needs to be ordered has been ordered.
Cards and gifts to be sent have been posted.
Always some last minute presents to wrap.

So now I can do all the extra little touches to make
my home extra special for family and friends.
I plan to make Winter Spiced Pot-Pourri

It's an easy gift, smells wonderful
When all the spices and dried fruit are mixed together
 put the pourri in a pretty jar or a see through bag & tie with ribbon.  
Last year it was a great success, so I'll definitely make some more this week

I followed Stone Gable blog recipe, if you want to know how
to make it why don't you pop over to her  blog.

How is all your preparation coming along ?
Hope you are enjoying the build up to the festive season.
I'll try and get another post done, 
so that I can show you all the house decorating I've done

à bientôt
Barbara Lilian

06 December 2015

Inspriration for Christmas decorating.

I'm thinking of a new header for my blog.
 more in keeping with the festive season, how about this one ?
Maybe with some snow falling, that's if I can ever figure out
how to get the widget or what ever it's called to work on my blog.

I still haven't got myself into the spirit of Christmas décor yet.
Perhaps if I take a look at photos from previous years.
and show them to you, I might get some inspiration.

Although I've lived in France for 26 yrs.
 I still keep a lot of my English family traditions.
It's a must to bring into the house lots of greenery.
Living in la campagne/countryside that's easy.

 Usually I start with a wreath made with pine branches, not unlike this one,
which was shown in  ESPRIT d'ici December 2014.

but I would hang it on the front door.
Like this one I made in 2012

Or this one on the front door of La Petite Maison

This was also Christmas 2012.

I can't show you my wreath as I haven't made it yet.
 I might even do something totally different this year.
Maybe like this one, shown in an English magazine
called Country Living.
I keep my magazines for years, especially the Christmas issues .

Here's a nice idea from the recipe pages,
 dried apples dipped in chocolate.

I'll also fill some empty flowerpots.
and put them on the window ledges, inside and out.

Now for the tree.
I might surprise you with this info,
I use an artificial tree, that I've had for years.

This was my country cottage style,

Then in 2012
 I used silver/gold and white, to decorate the tree.

This tree was at our daughters house a few years ago,
I love the chic way she used a vintage terracotta urn.
Our grandsons always decorate their tree,
 but I'm not so sure now they are young men.
however they do still love the magic of Christmas,
so perhaps they might surprise me. I hope so.

Lighting the candles in Denmark
Christmas 2005.

Always a real tree for my son and his family .
They even go to the growers, choose and cut their chosen tree.

When we are there, the job of decorating the tree is given to me.
 The boys  like to help, but usually give up before it's finished.

Maybe you might like a rustic tree.

with a rustic angel.

In our daughters home maybe their snowmen family, 
will be brought out for their table decoration again.
I hope Winnie-the-Pooh will be brought out and
 dressed again for Christmas, to give Eeyore the donkey
a hug, at our Danish grandsons home.

I hope you've enjoyed joining me on my search
looking for Christmas decorating inspiration.

Now all I need is to ask Mr France to reach up onto the top shelf
in our store cupboard, and bring down the box of decorations.
Then I can begin.

and for you to keep following my posts
to see how I decide to decorate.

I'm sure  a lot of you will have been busy this weekend
and will have already decorated your homes
I'm looking forward to see what you have done.

à bientôt

Barbara Lilian