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First of all, I’d just like to announce that the winner of the 100th blog post giveaway has been chosen, and it is Nancy Robinson Mullins 🙂 Congratulations, Nancy!

For this 101st post, I thought I’d share some non-painting bits of creativity that I’ve been up to, which I am quite chuffed with. The most recent was inspired by some posts I’d seen floating around Pinterest, of making lanterns out of empty food jars with some gold “leading” and glass paints. We have a new garden (more on that later in this post), which we have been decorating slowly with solar lights so that we can sit outside on nice summer evenings. But I wanted to do some candle holders or lanterns that we could string up outside as well, you know, like a little garden party for two. So I saw the idea for these faux Moroccan-style lanterns and gave it a go. I’m quite pleased with the results, although somehow I thought the patterns would be more visible when they were lit. Still nice though.

Lanterns (Unlit)

Lanterns (Unlit)

Lanterns (Lit)

Lanterns (Lit)

I’ve also been trying out some crochet crafts. One was a sweet little flower wreath that I put together, inspired by this one from the brilliant Attic 24, to decorate a particularly blank bit of wall in our bedroom.

Flower Wreath

Flower Wreath

The other was this pony, using this gorgeous Fatty Lumpkin the Brave African Flower Pony pattern, that I gave to a friend of mine as a Christmas present. Time-consuming, but I think the result is quite nice. My friend named him Roman and apparently the ladies at a craft group she goes to tried to nick him!

Roman the Pony

Roman the Pony

Lastly, that garden I mentioned… We live in a block of flats with a communal space out in the back. It’s a concrete space that had been neglected for over a decade and had become a communal dumping ground. There was even a derelict TV set out there for ages! Starting last summer, hubby and I started work on transforming it into something akin to a garden. It was difficult work as there was no soil, it was all totally concreted over. So hubby built a bunch of raised bed boxes, and we started putting together a container garden. It’s still looking a bit rough, especially with all that hideous concrete, but it is sooo much better, and we are really enjoying watching things grow. For the longest time I was convinced I had the blackest thumb on earth, but even I have managed to grow things! There is hope for us all! 😉

I should have taken pictures before we even started clearing up and building the first boxes, but unfortunately it was so embarrassingly hideous that I didn’t bother until after hubby had already done most of the hard work of clearing up most of the garbage and built the first raised beds. So trust me when I say it was much worse than this even when we started:

Garden (Before)

Garden (Before)

And now, things are going strong! We have a climbing clematis in an obelisk, a rose bush, raspberry canes, a cherry tree (attacked by aphids sadly, but getting better – but we ordered some ladybirds so those should be a happy addition soon, and will hopefully help control that problem!), strawberries, spinach, daffodils, tulips, heather, pine trees, cabbage, radishes, wild garlic, and so many more plants growing out there! We are very proud 🙂

daffies

Daffies!

Garden (After 1)

Garden (After 1)

Garden (After 2)

Garden (After 2)

Solar Fairy Lights in Garden

Solar Fairy Lights

tulips

Tulips

Working garden

Working garden

I’m finding gardening takes a lot of creativity and planning and patience, and I think it’s teaching me new skills and new lessons about creating, so it makes a nice change to painting, as does the crafting. I like the practical nature of it too, that I produce something that doesn’t just hang on a wall somewhere, but results in food, or a lantern that is both pretty and produces light. I can recommend it 🙂

I know we’re well into the new year now, but happy new year anyway!  I have been so swamped since Christmas with PhD work.  I’m still completely overwhelmed with all the stuff I have to do, but I am about to go completely crazy bonkers mental doing tedious transformational complexity ratings (don’t ask…), so I’ve decided I need a break.  I thought I should prove that although I have been remiss in my duties as a blogger, I have nonetheless been quite creative, at least in the run-up to Christmas. 

You see, I’m a broke PhD student now, so my gifts had to be relatively cheap, so I decided to make most of them this year.  Yeah, just like that…as if it didn’t cost a lot in time, if not money.  What a numpty I am.  But I think it was a success all round.  My thumb got so chafed from all the crocheting that it hasn’t really been the same since, but I was quite pleased with how far I’ve come with the crochet-work.  I’ve expanded into the amigurumi stuffed animal arena, which I’ve been thoroughly enjoying, and did my first lacework shawl, which was quite a task, but came out better than I’d anticipated.  

However, my loving husband gave me a t-shirt for Christmas that reads: ‘Just because you can crochet something doesn’t mean you should‘.  I’m still not entirely sure how to take that – he swears he wasn’t saying my crochet was the problem and was instead referring to hideous projects like this, but I think it’s a sign that maybe I ought to cool it a bit with all the octopi etc… especially when my sister-in-law said, voice full of horror, that she’d seen someone mention crocheted jellyfish and how pointless that seemed to her, and I remembered I had a crochet jellyfish pattern or two saved on my Pinterest crafts board… oops!  I’ll just leave it at octopi, whales and little Cthulhus then… that’s normal, right?  Right…?! 

Anyway, in addition to the crocheting of hats, shawls, blankets, slippers, mittens, wall decorations, and stuffed animals, I also decorated an oil lamp, painted a portrait of my sister’s dog for her birthday, and baked up a storm.  Whew!  Just as well there’s another year before the next Christmas…

(Click to enlarge)

(Christmas 2012 in a nutshell)

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One of these days, I really should paint something again that isn’t for a challenge. I’m finding it hard to get motivated unless there’s a clear deadline in place lately, partly because I’ve got so many other things on my plate at the moment, which leaves little time for being inspired without my hand being held. This month’s Virtual Paintout challenge was to choose a Google streetview in Romania. I’ve always wanted to go to Romania, and I have to say, some of the strangest and some of the most gorgeous sights I have come across while browsing for Virtual Paintout came from this challenge.

Edited: Funeral removed as perhaps not the nicest thing to broadcast. But other not-quite-seen-everyday scenes include: this and this.

There were also some amazingly stunning views to be had in this lovely country, such as this one or this.

But I chose this one to paint: Vlad the Impaler’s (Dracula’s) Castle, Bran Castle. Looking decidedly UNspooky on a gorgeous blue-skied, sunny day.

Bran Castle, Romania

Bran Castle, Romania

In other news, I became the proud owner of a Kindle thanks to it being my birthday last week. It doesn’t come with any sort of case unfortunately, and a quick look at the official Kindle cases had me gasping at the price, which is nearly half the price of the Kindle itself! Highway robbery! So, I decided to try my hand at making myself a cover. Just took some foamcore board, yarn, mad crochet skillz ;), and a button. Took me a while (my mad crochet skillz != fast crochet skillz), but I’m pleased with the end result. Plus, I didn’t have to pay my firstborn child, an arm, a leg and the moon. Take that, Amazon!

Kindle Holder (Closed)

Kindle Holder (Closed)

Kindle Holder (Open)

Kindle Holder (Open)

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