Monday, 24 September 2012

♥ This Week's Loves ♥

1. This is just a dinky version of This Week's Loves because (you may have seen) I've spent most of my week on tour seeing North East Open Studios (NEOS). I've done four blogposts about all the fantastic things I've seen and done - Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4.

2. On Saturday I was making cakes with friends, which was awesome fun! I made some gingerbread men (some = a lot!) which we decorated, and my friends made cake pops and cupcakes. We also had tea and sandwiches with the crusts off. How very dignified!

3. I had a double bill trip to the cinema this weekend too. First up was The Sweeney, which was good, but not great. I have a bit of a thing for Ben Drew though, so that added a few points!

4. The second film was Dredd 3D. I reckon you have to see this in 3D as it's a really visual film with fantastic slow motion segments with great comic book styling. I'm not averse to 3D if it's worth it, and this is!

My NEOS Tour - Day 4

 Have you seen Day 1 and Day 2 and Day 3?

One of the best things about NEOS is travelling around the countryside en route to the venues. These last few days have been so nice and it's reminded me how absolutely beautiful the area I live in is!

Today I was catching up with places I hadn't managed to fit in the last few days and Aberdeen Waldorf School is one I hadn't been to last year but had a number of artists.

I was on a mission though, and that was to meet Anita Inverarity, who's work I saw in the guide and immediately loved! She illustrates, mostly in pen, the most wonderfully whimsical things including Alice In Wonderland, Aesop's Fables and lots of other characters of her own making. I had a lovely chat with her but I had to leave empty handed as I couldn't decide what to buy!

A short drive away was the Phoenix Centre at Newton Dee. It was a very serene space and I was too shy to ask to take pictures inside, but I really liked the paintings by Debbie Neill (I already have a print of The Mercat Cross), Sandie Youngson and Alison Davidson.

My final visit of this year's NEOS was to Frameworks Aberdeen. There have been a few demonstrations of raku firing this year but I've never managed to be at the right place at the right time, so I made a point of being here at Lesley McKenzie's studio and gallery to see what it was about.

Very basically, the item is made from clay as normal, left to dry out and fired in a normal kiln. It's then glazed but certain areas are left unglazed and these are the part which get a matt ashy-black look.

These are Lesley's ceramics ready to come out of the kiln. As soon as the door was opened all you saw was little red bums! They're heated to 1000° so no wonder they're glowing!

Then comes the raku bit. The red-hot pieces are very carefully placed in a pile of wood shavings which instantly catch on fire. The lid is closed and the smoke does it's part and gives the smoky look to the unglazed parts, as well as filling tiny cracks to give it that unique raku fired look. This demonstration was totally fascinating and the smell of burning wood was lovely! I've spotted another Christmas present here so I'll be back for that and something for myself, as well as some of her vibrant rabbit prints!

And so ends another fantastic year of NEOS! If you haven't been and would like to find out more, visit their website to keep up-to-date or find out about the artists. Although this event runs for 9 days, a lot of the artists can be visited at any time of year, just check out their listing for details.

My NEOS Tour - Day 3

Another gloriously sunny day for my NEOS Tour! Wanna see Day 1 and Day 2?

First stop today was Mill Farm at Kemnay to see Gabi Reith, Morag McGee, Aubin Stewart, Ane Smith and Magnhild Hauge.

That's Aubin working away! I saw Gabi, Aubin and Morag last year too and they're really friendly and happy to chat, which is great!

I bought these lovely earrings from Magnhild and this wooden Christmas decoration from Gabi:

Next up was Kemnay House, which was really beautiful and peaceful. I love these arches of greenery, makes me feel like Alice In Wonderland!

There were a number of artists here, but I particularly liked Min Fletcher-Jones' jewellery, Alice Harman's botanical watercolours and Alex Burnett. I bought this card of "Out Into The Open" by Alex (apologies for the blurry photo!):

I was running a bit late by the time I got to the Gordon Highlanders Museum so I had to whizz round but the collection was mostly jewellery and silverware with some lovely kilt belt buckles and teapots. I didn't go in to see the museum but from what I saw it looks fantastic. My Mum has wanted to go for a long time as she's researching our family tree so we'll need to have a nice day out there!

Junction Arts was a favourite of mine last year so I had to go back this time. 

The owner Elaine is so nice and her stock is very much to my taste so I always find something new and different here. I bought this handmade bowl from Little Blue Twigs and I couldn't resist this cute brooch too.

 Oil & Glass was my final stop for the day.  This was another place that I hadn't managed to squeeze in last year so I made a point of being there this time.

I'm pretty clueless on this, but Hannah Beresford and Aileen Sawkins did a great job of explaining the processes involved in their work, although I'm still a bit intrigued so I may pop along to a class. There was a mix of glass pieces, paintings and jewellery in the gallery.

So that was another day on the NEOS trail! It's the last day tomorrow :( but I've still lots to see!

Friday, 21 September 2012

My NEOS Tour - Day 2

Pssst...want to read all about NEOS and Day 1 too?

I took the day off work to go and visit lots more NEOS venues yesterday, and what a great day it was!  The sun was shining as we drove around the countryside in search of creative goodness!

Firstly I had to collect a parcel from the Post Office. I've been waiting what seems like ages for these to make their trans-atlantic journey and then the Post Office had to charge their fees and customs and finally deliver them when no-one was home!

Look at those little faces! This is Petunia and Blueberry Wolfling from Mint Conspiracy. They've been in my Etsy favourites for a while and I like to dip in every so often and treat myself!  I opened them in the collection office car park, cuddled them, and off we went.

First stop was Country Frames Gallery in Leslie. It is so peaceful out that way and the countryside is amazing.

 I'd never been here before and wish I had because it's full of amazing art, crafts and gifts!

Right at the back, above the fire, you'll see an AMAZING painting by Ian Matthew called 'Beat the Storm' with lots of reflection in the motorbike's chrome and mirrors. I now have a want list including pieces by Paul Tavernor, Kay Reid, Sue Howells, Lesley McKenzie and award winning wildlife artist Katy Rewston.
I bought this card by Alex Clark Art, this ceramic hare by Hank & Kath at Sapart and a secret Christmas present that I can't show you!

Our next stop was Angela Davidson Art just outside Insch. We were greeted at the door by Angela and Jamie, her very cute doggy! We had a great chat about her work and studio and were able to see her working on a commission piece.

You can see from this print of "Rat Catcher" that I bought that she does amazing light and shade portraits. She's self-taught which is inspiring for me as I have no formal art training apart from secondary school and can only dream of being this good!

Stop three was at Durno Gallery which displays wonderful pictures from local photographers.  I didn't buy anything here but I left armed with a pocket full of business cards including David Officer, Lynn Cameron, Mootzie Mac (Mairi Maclean) and James Kelly who also offers photography classes.

Our final stop was at Meldrum Town Hall to see the Meldrum Makers. This is a great one to see because there's such a mix of art‚ crafts‚ jewellery‚ textiles and photography and if you can make it there at the weekend you'll also get to see local band The Lorelei so that's an extra treat!  And it's always great to chat to Kay from Hamespun (got my eye on her awesome Blue and Arla prints!), Ben of Shutterjunkies and Lindsay from Daisy Glaisy.

I bought one of Daisy Glaisy's make your own monster kits and here's the before and after of Princess Myrtle McBlob!

You get lots of different bits and bobs in the kit along with the pre-sewn body, so you just need to cut your monster out, stuff it and decorate it as you like!

So that was day two's adventures, I can't see anything today (boooo!) but I'll be out and about tomorrow for more NEOS adventures!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

My NEOS Tour - Day 1

Every year since 2003, local artists and crafters have opened the doors on their studios and allowed the general public to view their work in an event called North East Open Studios.

NEOS runs from Saturday 15th to Sunday 23rd September this year and with hundreds of participants to visit it's difficult to know where to go and when!

Over the next few days I'll be visiting a load of venues and will let you know what I see!

To kick off my tour I went to Hatton Of Fintray Village Hall to see the Garioch Art Group's exhibition.

Recently I've been considering taking art classes or improving my knowledge and ability in some way, so I was keen to go along and find out more about this local club.
The exhibition contains a wide range of paintings, collages and sculptures created by members, alongside stained glass work by Jennifer-Jane and barrel-framed photographs by Fintray Fine Framing.

The Group meets every Thursday from 7-9:45pm in the Garioch Community Centre in Inverurie. It only costs £1.80 per session and you just turn up with your arts and crafts supplies and work alongside like-minded people. It's described as a self-help group as it isn't a set class, but members share techniques and knowledge and they regularly have workshops and exhibit annually in the local town hall.

Sounds great doesn't it?! I'll definitely be popping along!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

My Mini-Adventure to Dundee

I moved from Aberdeenshire to Dundee when I was 21 after visiting friends there. I had such a great time that within a month of returning I had ditched the job and the man that were holding me back,  got a new job and a room to rent in Dundee and moved there.

After 6 months I knew I wanted to stay so I bought a flat and stayed for 8 fantastic years! The second half of this was spent at college and university getting my degree, and once that was done I got a job back home so I was on the move again.

I rent out my flat now so I get to visit regularly and I invited my friend Leanne to join me on a road trip to the City of Discovery!

I got the tenant viewings out of the way early on Saturday so we could make the most of our trip and our first stop was lunch from the 24-hour baker beside my flat, Clarks. This place it legendary, you can get anything off the menu, and time of day or night, from sandwiches, burgers, pies and hot rolls to cakes, slush puppies and ice cream.

We headed into the city centre and visited McManus Galleries. Dundee's going through a real rejuvenation at the moment and the plans for change over the next couple of years are really exciting, and they seem to have started here!

It's a beautiful building filled with the history of Dundee, as well as Victorian and modern art galleries and entry is free!  You might recognise the stained glass circle from a Clydesdale Bank £10 note showing Scottish missionary Mary Slessor.

I'm not a fan of stuffed animals and these examples don't help! The wildcat and fox look mental and the seal looks really sad!

There was a farmer's market on, so we had a look around at that and I showed her the statues of the Dundee Dragon and Desperate Dan with Minnie The Minx in the city centre.

We went to Tonic on Perth Road for tea and sat and watched the world go by at the window seats while we decided on which of the almost 250 variations of burgers to have! I'm a veggie so that made it much easier to pick!

We went to the cinema to see The Watch. I'd heard that it wasn't that good, but we really enjoyed it! Afterwards we went to meet friends at The Phoenix, a pub in the Nethergate but only stayed for one  cos we were totally shattered so went home to a cup of tea, pyjamas and Disney's Beauty & The Beast!

On Sunday we met a friend and had a lazy brunch at the Tartan Coffeehouse. I'd never been before and it was really nice, just what I needed!

We had to do a bit of a tour in the city centre again because the flat key I had cut the day before didn't fit and we'd found a Blackberry outside the cinema so that had to be taken to the police station. But I did get to show Leanne some cool places like my uni, Abertay, and the home of the Beano & The Dandy (amongst other things), D C Thomson.

We spent the afternoon at RSS Discovery, a Dundee built ship which Captain Scott took on an expedition to the Antarctic.

It's pretty amazing to think I was stood on a boat which over 100 years ago went to the Antarctic!

This top picture is Captain Scott's room on the ship, I love the bed with all the storage underneath.  All the Officer's rooms are like snugs around a lavish Wardroom where they ate and talked, a bit fancier than the crew's quarters!

We had to stay in Dundee a few hours later than expected to get the paperwork signed by my new tenant so the drive home was late. Although we'd had a fantastic weekend it was so busy and tiring that I was glad to be home!

Monday, 17 September 2012

♥ This Week's Loves ♥

Last week flew by so fast, I'm struggling to remember my name let alone my loves!

1. After waiting months for the new iPhone 5, then spending the morning of it's launch hovering over the submit button, I finally pre-ordered it. I'm using an iPhone 3G which I bought 3-4 years ago which is slowly dying a death, so it's time to upgrade.

2. I bought some new cool t-shirts from Threadless. I'd never used them before but I liked these two and they were in a $10 tee sale, so I snapped them up. I bought medium sized ones, which are not too baggy or tight. The one on the right glows in the dark and the cats body appears in UV light and reminds me of Totoro! It hasn't had great reviews but I'll try it and see, I like the design anyway!

3. My friend and I went on a mini-adventure to Dundee. I lived there for 8 years and my flat was due a new tenant so we made a little holiday of it! I'll do a full post shortly to tell you all about it!

4. Whilst there we went for Tonic burgers. They have almost 250 combinations of burgers starting at £5.65 and that's including fries! We grabbed a seat at the window and watched the world go by as we stuffed our faces!

5. Our cinema trip this week was to see The Watch. I'd heard it wasn't that funny but we thought it was good!

6. I love my new gloves from Primark! Look at that irresistible panda face and his little pompom ears! They were only £2 so that was a done deal straight away!

7. Living the rock n roll lifestyle that we do, after going out for one drink, we headed home, made some tea, put on our pyjamas and watched Beauty & The Beast!

8. Here's a random happy face that we found, of all places, on the inside of a 110+ year old ship! Obviously it hadn't been there that long, but he was smiling all the same!

9. And to top off our lovely (but slightly stressful) weekend, I've got a lovely new tenant and a signed tenancy agreement. Yay!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

So What's This SheInside All About?

Recently I've seen a lot of bloggers, especially in the USA and Canada talking about SheInside, an online shop for women's fashion.

And when Dana at Wonder Forest did a Self Portrait blogpost where she wore a really lovely blue top, I had to have it! This is the top, so pretty and covered in flowers and the collar and the bow and everything for under £20!

SheInside is based in China but does free worldwide shipping. They add lots of new items every day and have a really big range, but this does make it a bit hard to look through it all.

I registered for the site and promptly got an email with a code for 15% off my first order, which was even better! I did have a look around and saw a few things but thought I'd wait and see how this order went first. When I hit the button my order came to only £16.45.

They also have a Bonus Points Program where you get points for purchases, reviewing products, sharing links and photos of you wearing their products. Each point equals one cent off future purchases and it's a nice added extra.

My order took about 3 weeks to get to the UK from the date of ordering until it arrived. It was packaged in clear plastic within one of those tough grey mailing bags.

The top looks exactly as shown. The fabric is not quite what I was expecting but it's lightweight and is the kind of stuff that won't crease easily. The bow is removable and it a long piece of cloth so you could bow it or belt it or wear it in your hair or on your bag or whatever you fancy!

I tried it on with a full navy skirt but I looked like a cartoon schoolgirl, so I think I'll just wear it with jeans.

The only thing I have a problem with is the sizing.  This top comes in small, medium and large but you have to pay attention to the sizing.  I'm usually a UK size 10 and going by the measurements I just fit into a large! When I tried on the top there is a bit of a stretch across the bust but luckily the bow covers it.

Although I didn't have a bad shopping experience I'm not really sure if I'd order again unless there was something I knew I'd really like. The prices and range are good, but the time it takes to get here and the sizing puts me off.

Have you ordered from SheInside? What did you think?

Monday, 10 September 2012

♥ This Week's Loves ♥

1. I got this ace Lego Ideas Book from the book people that visit my work. I usually buy all my books online but this cost a good bit less than Amazon etc so I had to have it!

2. Yip, this is me! I'm getting this new Cineworld Unlimited Premium membership thing so I had to take a photo of myself. 99% of the time photos of me are awful, I normally pull a face to pre-empt the awfulness but I had to be sensible with this one! This is a good photo of me and that makes me happy!

3. I went to see NTL's Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time. I'd read the book years ago and forgotten exactly what happens but it all came flooding back to me.  It was fantastic, the stage layout, the movement, the dialogue, the humour, everything.

4. Peapod has just opened a new vintage shop in Aberdeen on Rosemount Place, so my sister and I went for a look. It has lots of lovely things but I didn't have enough money with me. I'll definitely need to go back!

5. We also visited Cloudy Blue which is just across the road. It's a gift shop full of fabulous things and I bought a 3D drawing kit and some cool robot key covers. I'll try the kit out and let you know if it's as amazing as it sounds!

6. This is me and my sister! We're much taller in our shadows!

7. It was such a sunny day on Saturday so we also went for a walk round Victoria Park. It was so peaceful despite being next to a main road and lots of people were out enjoying the weather.

8. Sunday was also a lovely sunny day but I sacrificed half the afternoon to see Lawless. It's based on a true story about a family who make and sell moonshine during the Depression. Like a lot of families all the characters are so different but they get the job done together. And Tom Hardy. Nuff said!

9. I also went to see Anna Karenina which was so beautiful. I loved that a lot of the scenes were filmed inside an old theatre and it has a very theatrical feel.

What are your This Week's Loves?

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

What Are Your Rules Of Twitter?

Today I had to unfollow someone because they broke one of my Twitter Rules: Don't fill up my timeline with the same or very similar tweets in a short space of time.

Now I hate unfollowing people. I always feel so guilty it because I'm a big sap and I feel sad when I get unfollowed, especially by someone who's tweets I really enjoy.  But I know that's me being silly because it doesn't mean they don't like me, it's just that everyone has their own reasons and rules when it comes to Twitter.

The person had sent out 54 tweets, one after the other, with links to different individual products. The message was the same in each tweet, she was recommending another person's work (which was really nice of her), and I had a look at one or two of the products she was recommending.

But if I had seen one or two messages with a link to the entire shop I would have had the chance to browse myself and see if I was interested in finding out more. In fact, instead of seeing just one or two products, it's likely that I would have seen more.

I also follow 290 other people and like to know what's going on with them too!

My other main rules are:

Don't keep retweeting the same person all the time. If I wanted to know what they were saying I'd follow them.

Don't just follow people to get a follow back. We've all seen it, you get a new follower, you don't follow back immediately, they unfollow again after 2-3 days. It's just a waste of everyone's time.

I don't really have many rules apart from this, if I follow you I generally like what you're saying. I can let the odd thing go because we can't all agree all the time and as long as you're not hugely offensive or overly depressing I'll still like you!

I know that these are my bugbears and that everyone has their own, so what are your Rules Of Twitter?

Karen x

*PS Just because I don't follow you on Twitter, doesn't mean I don't follow you elsewhere! :)*

Monday, 3 September 2012

♥ This Week's Loves ♥

Well, This Fortnight's Loves to be right! I missed out on last week's This Week's Loves because I was at a craft fair then launching my new blog (which I hope you're all loving!).

1. Making lunch bags for the craft fair was mostly fun, until I broke 3 needles within half an hour!  I have the last three available in my shop.

2. I really love doing Aberdeen Craft Bazaar. Unfortunately the horrendous weather and flooding kept some people at home, but they run every few months and are definitely worth a visit.

3. I've added a few new items to my Whimsy shop this week and I especially love this kitten jigsaw puzzle! Isn't it really cute?! There's another rabbit jigsaw and a few Rupert bits been added too.

4. I decided to dye my hair and do my nails at 10pm the night before I went to Dundee, which isn't that clever of me! Luckily I had these nail wraps so didn't have to worry about drying time!

5. I totally love my friends!  I haven't been back down for months and had a fantastic night out in Dundee on Friday night, it's just like I'd never been away!

6. The day after the night before we had a lazy day. We got pizza delivered, lounged about, then watched DVDs whilst stuffing our faces with sweets! Our first film was Unstoppable which I'd never seen before and it was really good, every few minutes there's a panic about what happens next!

7. I'd wanted to see Bronson for a long time so that was our second film. Tom Hardy is amazing, but you probably know that already!

8. I know it's really early, but I've bought my 2013 diary already! I saw this Star Wars Moleskine diary and had to have it! It has "May The Force Be With You" embossed on the front, a removable address book and other cool custom bits.

9. On my way back from Dundee I stopped at Castleton Farm Shop for cake. My Twitter friend Lisa makes their amazing cakes and always tweets tempting pictures of them!  I now feel slightly ill after eating some banoffee cheesecake, forest fruits cheesecake, strawberry tart and neapolitan ice cream. And I still have a coffee and walnut cake to try!

How has your week/fortnight been?

Karen x
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