Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Ups and Downs of Shoes

Do you ever look at what shoes people are wearing? I have found myself staring at people's shoes recently, and have become fascinated at what I have seen. Only the other day I watched a young girl wearing a pair of very narrow tipped high heels, and  the concentration that she needed for staying upright created one of the most amusing walks I have ever seen. (eat your heart out John Cleese). I had the perfect seat in a cafe to observe all of this whilst waiting for a friend to arrive.

It was the click clack click followed by a scraping noise that drew my attention at first, on first look I thought she had been drinking and then realised that the swaying was part of her strategy to remain upright and at the same time trying to advance forward. It was one of the funniest things truly I have seen in awhile, and so because shoes are much more than simply an item of clothing - they can be objects of fantasy and desire, they can make us feel good or they can be instruments of torture and abuse. Let's just have a look at some.  Never even knew that there was such a thing as shoes for crushing walnuts!  Ouch to the nails below. And as for the binding of feet can only say I am glad that that era is over.
Did you know! Edward II originated shoe sizes in 1324. He decreed that 3 barley corns, placed end to end, equaled one inch. 36 barleycorns, end to end, were the actual length of his own foot. Each barleycorn was one third on an inch, which added up to 12 inches or one "foot." The longest normal foot measured 39 barleycorns, or 13 inches, and was called size 13. Smaller sizes were graded down from this number, each by a third of an inch.

Thanks to a stray comment by Confucius, mothers in 10th century China bound their daughters’ feet, hoping to achieve a “golden lotus,” a foot measuring just 3 inches. The "lotus" feet looked like tiny hooves and almost immobilized a woman. A symbol of high status, they were also considered powerfully erotic. In 1911 the practice was banned, and in 1949 Mao made it apenal offense to bind girls' feet, which was out of favor by then anyway. (The two paragraphs above are from

Image credits: Bata Shoe Museum Photos' by David Stevenson and Eva Tkaczuk, South Shields Museum, The Stockholmtown Blog, urbanupdater.wordpress.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Adventures in the Tarn

Well that's the week over and the kids have all gone home for awhile but they will be back in August to take up their new home less than an hour from me and it is like a dream come true to have two of my four grandchildren finally going to live close by.  We all spent a great week together and had lot's of fun, a few things we got up to.
Running free in the garden was a big factor, playing hide and seek, kids tried the pool but was to cold even in June for them and me I might add, finding wild Girolle mushrooms, which were later cooked  with chicken in a white cream sauce which was delicious. We also  saw several huge grasshoppers which scared the pants of the kids (check the eyes out on the picture) which were not taken home nor cooked I might add. What else, oh yes, we cut potatoes and dipped them in paint and Poppy and Stevie covered themselves with every colour they could come up with.  Watched Peppa Pig  which is Poppy's favourite, well she is only 2 and a bit, and Ben10 for Stevie. So I think I deserve a bit of R & R now and a large drink!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Dear Sir, The Art of Writing is not Dead!

If you have not yet come across  the shop of Designer Pens  before then here is a chance to see not only Randy's beautiful handcrafted pens but to hear a little about where he lives and his love of working with wood and  creating his hand crafted pens. Here are a few questions I asked Randy. And  one lucky person will receive a fabulous handcrafted pen from Designer Pens shop value $30 
 "Lemon Lime European Style Pen" pictured above.

  Rules for this give away are at the end of this posting. Good luck.

Why did you choose to make pens out of wood
I went to a woodworking show a few years back in Denver, and there and then I decided that I wanted to work and create with wood. So I set to work on clearing an area at the back of my garage, set up my workbench, arranged my tools and set to my first project which was a, yes you have guessed a pen!

I have always loved wood and here in Colorado springs we are surrounded by Silver Maples, Green ash, Siberian Elms, blue Spruce and white fir.  I could go on to tell you about wood  from around the world  that I also use but I think it would be a very  long story. I try to put as much detail as I can into my descriptions  when listing  pens in my shop of the particular woods I use, so if you would like to learn more just pop in and have read.

What is your favourite wood to work with

I don't think I really have a favourite wood as I love all types. But if I had to choose one it would be the Pink Ivory wood, which is a rare African wood used to make luxury products and grows predominately in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa. Pink Ivory is the royal tree of the Zulus and only the royal family were allowed to possess the wood. It has not only a beautiful colour but the grains creates what to me looks like waves.

How long on average does it take you to make a pen

This varies really depending on whether I am working with wood or acrylic the wooden ones can take approximately 1.5 hours and an acrylic could take 2 hours.  I have never actually timed myself from start to finish as I seem to get totally absorbed in what I am doing and I never like to rush.

Do you think the art of handwriting is dying.

I  believe that younger people write less and would say that the Internet is one off the main reasons for the decline, and email is easy and fast, and and easy option for people nowadays.  But  I believe handwriting  will never  truly die as we all have and need the ability to hand write, can you think of the last time that you cherished an email? To receive a hand written letter is still and always will be a thrill for me and I hopefully for many others, and so by continuing to make  my pens I hope that I can encourage people to enjoy the art of handwriting, especially if they are using one of my pens :)

Randy in action

Rules for giveaway.

1. I would love you to follow my blog, this is not compulsory to do so, but would make me smile:)

2. I would love  you to visit Randy's shop and heart your favourite item from his shop.

3. Leave  your name and contact details on your post.

4. Tell me when was the last time you received a hand written letter. (No Fibbing)

5. Tell me when you last wrote a hand written letter. (Even if it was to the milkman)

6. Finally, good luck and hope the winner will use it often and cherish their hand made pen. Thank you so much Randy for your generosity and helping with keeping the art of writing alive.

7. Giveaway will close on the 14th July

I found this beautiful little embroidery piece in a shop  here on Etsy http://www.etsy.graceymay/ and it fits so well with this giveaway. that I just had to add it.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Misumena Vatica

Well I certainly Misssed-U-Mena   last year when the Lily beetles attacked and stripped most of my lilies almost overnight. So there I was strolling around my garden looking at my labours of love last night, and the madonna lillies are out and looking fabulous, and then I looked at a few others and saw a small white thing on the end of one of the flower heads. I thought it was a deformed flower head on the plant, on looking closer to my horror I saw this white crab looking spider with a red dash on it.
I ran into the house and grabbed my camera and took a shot, light was against me but gave me enough to search the web and find out that she is a very useful little spider to have around. Here she is happily protecting my lilies, bless her little socks, so if you see this little lady just say hi and leave her in peace, as for me I hope she stays around for awhile. I have no idea if this is a male or female really!

I found this information on wikipedia along with  the fabulous photo below, and which tells you more about this spider and how it can even change from white to yellow, found it quite fascinating as I have never seen one here before. Also discovered that it's hunting and not really protecting my plants at all. So everything I just said above is not entirely true.Oh well

Friday, June 4, 2010

Rabbit Whiskers Great Giveaway and Interview

I came across this wonderful shop last year whilst I was putting together a treasury and used one of Judy's dresses for my theme. I decided to contact Judy to see if she would tell us a little more about the art of smocking. Judy not only does all the smocking but then hand embroiders little ducks, rabbits, and many more delightful little animals on her dresses, and the art she creates on her children's clothing is simply beautiful. Therefore, I was delighted when she agreed, and so asked her a few questions and here's what she had to say.

I have been smocking for 34 years, since my daughter was a baby. As a child I always loved  to look at baby clothes in the dept. stores and in my baby cousin's closet, where I found  her little smocked dresses  that I believe came from the Philippines.

I have always loved the arts and creating new things and always had a particular interest in little girl's clothing.I love the infinite amount of designs and special touches that can be added to girl's clothes to make them cute, pretty, fun, and special. I especially love hand smocked baby dresses and always hoped to have a little girl that so that  I could dress her in them. The first smocked dress I made was yes, you guessed  for my daughter and looked nothing like the dresses that I make today, however it was smocked, and it looked smocked! From there, there was no stopping me and my daughter had almost more smocked dresses than she could wear. She is now 32 and I have smocked continually since then and, as the years passed my smocking improved. I got bored with stitching just the basic designs, so I started adding bits of embroidery here and there, mostly little flowers

I have music on continuously while I work~ always classical music.We have an excellent classical radio station here, and I find it helps and  inspires me to continue with my creations.
I get my ideas largely from nature, and I also love looking at pictures for inspiration. I love going for walks & looking at all of the beautiful & interesting plants & animals, and I think that is probably my biggest influence. I also like to think of ways to depict animals in human-type roles in scenes embroidered on my dresses hence the name Rabbit Whiskers. There is a longer story attached to this but I fear it is a bit to long to explain right now, perhaps I will blog about it soon:)

I have lots of hobbies- unfortunately more than I have time for. I love to garden &  could spend all day every day in the garden~ if I could. I also love to read, write- especially poetry, knit, and then there are a zillion art projects that I'd love to be able to do, but just don't have time, I also like to paint & draw, I would also love to do stained glass & quilt, to name a few, and it's on my list.

Smocking is a very old art form created in England, I believe, and  it has quite an extensive history, but I've never really taken the time to research it- I've managed to pick up a few snippets here & there, for example, I think it was first begun as a way to shape clothing; to reduce the bulk & make it more shapely & decorative

Hmmm, I think I would say to be very patient and not in a hurry to be finished. It is a very slow process and improvement comes from lots of trial & error. Expect to make mistakes at first-

  Unfortunately, I am the only one in my family who likes to make handmade items, so while I love them, I have very few handmade things that have been given to me~ I guess I would say my favorite is the beautiful crib quilt that my aunt made for my son when he was born. I really treasure that. He & his wife are expecting their first baby in January, so I'm planning to pass it down to them~

I  also discovered that Judy is an excellent photographer and makes beautiful cards collected from her  travels in the countryside in Walnut Creek CA, and she has kindly offered to giveaway a set 4 cards
from her "The Language of Flowers" edition, shown below,  giveaway prize value is $13 and some lucky person will receive the set.

"The Language of Flowers"

HowYou Can Enter Upto 3 Times

Here's your chance to win a set of beautiful cards from Judy's shop, and all you have to do is go to Judy's shop, choose your favourtie item, add the link to your entry and tell me why you choose that particular item.

1. Please follow my blog to enter, and please leave a comment and a contact email address.

2. Tweet this giveaway and you will get another entry.

3. Facebook and you will gain another entry.

4. Winner will be announced  and notified on the last day June. Will use the random generator to select the winner.

Thanks and good luck

To see Judy's work here is her shop:

If you would like to read a little more on smocking:

Examples of smocking stitches:
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