Category Archives: flowers

Outdoor learning just in the garden

Tommy and LJ love our garden, they love Mamma’s greenhouse (Tommy has been calling me that since he began talking and couldn’t say grandma). We are learning so much by playing outdoors just in this small space.

I wanted to share some free and inexpensive  ideas for developing your garden and using it for fun learning

  1. I’ve left a patch of grass ‘wild’ to encourage butterflies and bees. It looks very wild now and the grasses are almost waist height for Tommy and LJ. They love walking through this and feeling the different textures as well as looking for butterflies.
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  2. Seeds – I saved seeds from poppies, sweet peas and foxgloves last year and we planted these earlier this year. They understand the sequence of plant pot, soil, seeds, more soil, water and writing a label and can now plant seeds with very little help.
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  3. We won a book on Toppsta called ‘Bee and me’ this is a stunning book all about the friendship between a little girl and a bee. It arrived with a packet of beautifully illustrated seeds. Obviously we planted theses and nurtured them ( toppsta is a site where you can look at book reviews and recommendations but can also win ‘ giveaways- well worth a look)
  4. As a result of the above we now spend a lot of time looking for ‘buzzy bees’ and talking about pollen and flowers.
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  5. I caught Tommy outside with his camera taking ‘photos of flowers like mamma’
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  6. We allow the kids to fill up the bird feeders and that’s one of the things they ask to do now.
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  7. Tommy has a digger with a bucket on the front and we collect small items to fit in, leaves, feathers, stones all the while talking about big and little
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  8. We listen for sounds – I could have cried when Tommy said ‘listen to the birds singing’ -Tommy particularly likes aeroplane spotting.
  9. We have picked tomatoes from the green house and eaten them outside ( I have stressed he must always ask me first before eating anything!! Paranoid grandma.)
  10. Tommy uses the hosepipe to water the tubs and we are gradually learning what is the correct amount of water – we’ve had weeks of too much water to get to this stage!


None of this is rocket science I know but I’ve really started to learn about the joys of outdoor learning as I have been privileged to work with Juliet Robertson ( take a look at her blog there are so many ideas on there!)  on two of her books Dirty Teaching and Messy Maths ( both by Crown House ). I now think about the language I use and can see joy in the kids faces when we lay on the floor to look at a green caterpillar or Tommy asks what the berries are on the tree. I love it when they are excited to see starlings feeding their young or when LJ makes piles of pebbles. Yes they get dirty and my hosepipe is Tommy’s favourite toy but they are outside playing and learning to love nature which has got to be a good thing 

We did buy some items, a magnifying glass which meant we could look closely for caterpillars and bugs, children’s gardening gloves – they were £1 a pair at a local hardware store, smaller watering cans and the children’s first book of birds from The RSPB.

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#photochallenge 19th July

It’s finally the Summer for most people and even the weather is being obliging! Our #photochallenge today is a little harder. However, you still can’t get this wrong and anyone can join in.Today’s theme is ‘ I want to live in a world where …’ With this statement written over a photo – the only stipulation is that it should be a photograph taken by you or a photo of you! If you have children at home get them to take your photo and add your quote at the bottom or write your quote onto something and hold it. Be as creative as you want. Or ask someone around you for their ideas and take a portrait of them.


This was edited with stackables app and quote added via word swag.

This is my image taken on my phone last night at a friend’s house. Lots of things I could ‘unpick’ – we have been friends for over 40 yrs they are always there, kindness is a given – the flowers were my gift to them, simple home grown, not expensive but given with love.

Lie in the sun and relax, your photo will follow naturally from your quote. Enjoy my little Guinea pigs!! Do you fancy a photo morning next week?? I have decent coffee and biscuits

Printing photographs onto fabric

I had a real eureka moment today when I realised how easy it is to print onto fabric! I’ve used transfer paper but never been happy with the results. Today I used inkjet fabric sheets – £8.95 for 10 A4 sheets and the result is amazing! (The only downside is that they did take quite a while to be delivered)  You can type quotes basically anything you can do on your computer you can print! I used photoshop and tried lots of images on A4 and am so impressed. You just peel of the backing paper and are left with a gorgeous fabric version of your image. I’m dabbling with sewing at the minute and making cards etc. I’m going to have a go at embellishing some of these images later – the flower fields look like they might work.

I’ve also been trying out some more machine embroidery and negative space embroidery – just experimenting! No pattern just making it up x

 

Renewed optimism

I’ve not taken any still life shots for a while so a rainy dull day seemed ideal to stay indoors and play. I do have a beautiful bouquet of flowers from our anniversary last week but I’m much more at home with decaying plants and flowers as I love the texture. A quick dash into the garden produced some sorry looking specimens but they make for amazing macro shots.

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Slow down

Wabi-sabi (?) represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection (Wikipedia)

I love the idea that there is beauty in imperfection and in things that are transient. I have long been a lover of decaying flowers or nature as the textures and lines are often stunning. My garden at the minute looks, on first glance, to be past its best- not much life and just a few struggling flowers. On closer inspection however, there are some wonderful subjects! The poppy seed heads have so many shades of green and brown.

Poppy seed head Wabi Sabi Poppy seed heads Wabi Sabi

The flowers that are decaying are covered in fine cobwebs and have so much texture.

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decaying flower

Don’t be in too much of a hurry to see what is in front of you.We all rush around so much. Take time for yourself and appreciate nature – it really is amazing. x

Going through phases

I often find myself going through phases with my photography. Sometimes I never take my macro lens off, other times I convert everything to black and white. I’m always highly critical of my work and feel that nothing is good enough. How many of us live with ‘imposter syndrome’ and fear that we will be ‘found out’ as simply not being good enough.  I’m learning to relax and think if people don’t like my stuff that’s fine, I do, and that’s all that matters. I’ve been looking at some images of wild flowers from the summer and love the abstract feel of these. I used a zoom lens for these which meant I got that lovely dreamy background. Today’s thought for me to hold onto is that if i’m trying and if i’m slowly improving that’s ‘good enough!’

Wild flower Harlow Carr RHS Wildflower Harlow Carr RHS Poppy

Wild flower RHS Poppy

A day for me

Following on from yesterday’s post about recharging batteries, I’ve had a day for me today. Tony is off  working as a  Ranger and walking the hills so I decided it was time to do lots of jobs that I have been thinking about. My printer has been playing up big style and had reached the point where it was wasting so much paper I knew I had to get a new one. I’ve always had HP printers and the last one was an A3 printer. I’ve decided it’s not cost effective to print A3 at home so now order these on line. I spent some time with the rep at PC world – he was an Epson rep and obviously had a job to do but what he explained made sense. I spend a fortune on printer ink – I think a huge chunk of my tax return last year said printer ink! My new printer was pricey but has an eco tank and the ink comes in bottles. The ink is cheaper and claims to last for more pages – I will let you know! The quality is impressive – I was concerned as I frame a lot of prints but so far it’s looking good. I can even print wireless from my phone – so that’s hundreds more photos of Tommy for the fridge then.

Epson printer

I’ve also been playing with ‘Hapa Zome’ and printing flowers! This is addictive so be warned! I wanted to use these images with textiles and mixed media so bought a sewing machine yesterday – it’s ages since I had one and I’ve only had a quick play . I’m hoping to make cards and gift tags to begin with.

JMH_9993      Playing with different flowers and materials produces different effects

Processed with Moldiv
Processed with Moldiv

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I’ve set up pinterest boards for textiles art and Hapa zome – Inspiration from nature.

Pinterest textiles art

Pinterest – hapa zome – painting with flowers

I’m now off for a coffee and a look through my button and bead box to see what I can add to these (admittedly amateur) first attempts x

Weeds can be beautiful too

I’m a lover of dead flowers and the texture and lines they contain but I also love weeds! If you find the right light some weeds will give you really abstract images which look amazing when they are printed in a large format. Its about what you see – there is beauty everywhere. These were all taken at RSPB Fairburn Ings today where the light was wonderful.

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These three were back lit and spot metered to get the black background and make the most of the light.

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This was shot with a macro lens at f2.8 to make the most of the background.

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The bokeh in the background adds to the abstract feel of this shot

Stepping out of your Comfort zone

It has taken a long time but I now feel confident to say that I can take a decent photograph of flowers. I have practised, I have edited, deleted, re shot but I now have my own style and feel comfortable with what I do.

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I bought myself a new lens earlier this year – a 100 – 400 mm zoom with the aim of developing my skills and trying new things. Over the last few weeks I have been taking photos of dragonflies and butterflies. What a change, what a challenge! You can’t retake several times as your subject has flown off! It won’t wait for you to ‘faff about’ with settings and lighting, you get one shot. It won’t allow you to move around it and find the best angle … you get where I am coming from. I now have hundreds of photos of empty twigs and branches as well as several blurred attempts.

However, I remain undaunted. I’m reading around my subject. I’ve learnt that dragonflies often return to the same spot. Patience isn’t one of my virtues but I am learning!

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JMH_6581a dragonfly 1

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I would like to say  a special thank you to the gentleman who held the blade of grass still whilst I took a photograph of a dragonfly  this morning!

Finding your place

The last few weeks have seen a lot of reflective thought. Mum’s dementia and death have made us all stop and re evaluate what is important.
What is important? What is It that defines us and makes us what we are? The values we hold now are rooted in our childhood and the values our children and grandchildren will have are rooted within us.
My grandson Tommy has been my inspiration this year. His constant smile and perseverance have spurred me on. I talk to him and promise that I will support him and make sure he is the best he can be. He makes me smile. I’m in awe of the fact that if he can’t reach something with his little arm he will use his feet. At only a year old he has learnt to cope with only one hand, he crawls, pulls himself up, balances objects and literally makes my heart melt when he strokes my arm with his little arm. He is fascinated by people and when out with him it takes me twice as long to do anything as he beams at complete strangers who then come to talk to us.

PicMonkey Collage
If you ask anyone about what makes a person special they will talk about personality and character  – why then do we still judge by appearances, why are so many of us on diets bemoaning our shape and our cellulite?
My own grandmother always said ‘ a little bit of help is worth a lot of pity’ that from a women bringing up 7 children in a 3 bed roomed terraced house with no bathroom and an outdoor toilet – oh and her bitter, jilted great uncle living with them too ( he taught us all to swear, took up residence by the open fire, smoked a pipe and never ever removed his flat cap). No wonder she judged people by their response to and care for others. I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard since her funeral when all 7 of her ‘children’ (then in their 60’s and 70’s) recounted tales of bath night and teasing dad who as the eldest got first go in the tin bath in front of the fire. When the lads talked of arguing who’s turn it was to empty uncle Ernest’s chamber pot (apparently one of his skills was to fill it to within a millimetre of the rim) tears were running down their faces as they laughed and remembered their childhood.
Values are talked about frequently in education. What values do we need to encourage and develop.
The Dalai Lama said ‘I have no religion, my religion is kindness’. We encountered such kindness during mum’s last week. It didn’t take much, a cup of coffee, a hug, a listening ear, an e mail, a regular text – all served as reminders that we weren’t on our own.
Today feels significant as it’s the first home match of the season. For the last couple of years that meant that either I or my brother had to go and sit with mum. If I’m painfully honest I dreaded it. It was like being stuck in mum’s frightening and frustrating world for several hours. The last time I did this was the week before I went to Kakuma which now feels a lifetime away. Dad is still struggling, life is very surreal at times – a phone call from my uncle with a message from mum via a medium, a first birthday party, the planning of holidays, taking flowers to a whole range of graves as mum’s ashes are in the same village cemetery as my son, her sister and her mum…and life goes on. Sunday is the anniversary of my eldest son’s death 28 years ago. At the time I couldn’t see a way forward and felt that I would never be happy again. I have friends who are suffering the loss of people close to them, I have friends who are celebrating- all I know is that kindness helps and we should never underestimate the power of friendship.

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