Birthdays and Things.

It was our youngest granddaughter’s third birthday last week. I made her a cake, of course, just plain sponge with pink butter icing, nothing too ambitious. In the past I have made all sorts of fancy cakes for my children: cowboy forts and crinoline ladies; Hungry Caterpillars and a pond complete with frogs on lily pads; a campsite with tents with licorice guy ropes, Sleeping Beauty in bed and a bath with someone in it. I can’t remember all of them. Three children make for a lot of birthdays. I did the wedding cakes for two of them as well, and the third one tells me she has me booked for one if she ever marries.

But we took Isla out on her birthday for a picnic in Clumber Park and it was a lovely day, just the three of us. We went on an “adventure” into the woods and had our lunch under the greenwood tree – totally Robin Hood in the very forest where he roamed. (If he existed at all, of course.) I don’t normally show photos of my family on here but this just sums the day up for me. A very happy day.

Just getting started. Crown image stamped and embossed in gold. Background daubed using ink pads.

And I’m doing a couple of ZIA’s for friends at the moment. First, another rainbow one for Milly Johnson, this time for the lady herself, not for the giveaway. I’m enjoying this one more for some reason. Probably because I am using all old favourite patterns and only a limited range. I think one of my weaknesses is the desire to use lots and lots of patterns and lots and lots of new to me patterns too. The second one is a secret so I’m not telling you until after it has been given – you never know, she may read my blog.

Quite a bit of patterning done, plus some colour depth added. Not there yet.

And then today we took Isla out for the day again. We picked her up at 10.15 and returned her home over six hours later. I don’t know who was most exhausted by then but we had another great day. We took her to Whisby Nature Reserve, entirely by accident, as we were aiming for Whisby Animal Park but I mis-typed it into  Google maps , not knowing there were two places nearby with similar names. It turned out to be the happiest of accidents and we had a great day, with an indoor play area, a huuuuuuge outdoor sandpit, a wet play area and lovely walks around the lakes, full of wild birds and local fauna. We will go there again.

So I’m typing this with one eye closed because it’s now 8.31 at night and I’m just about ready for bed. Sad isn’t it? And I need to do the Diva Challenge too.

 Weekly Challenge #318: “Diptych”
So, this week’s challenge is to create a Diptych.

A diptych is two panels joined with a hinge – and the panels are mirrored – and i use the term ‘mirrored’ loosely.

So for you piece i took a tile and i folded it corner to corner.  I drew two triangle borders, one on each side, and then i tangled them.  I found it easier to draw something on one side and then repeat it on the other side. 

Ready for the diptych. Folded diagonally but coloured using the “mirror” vertical but the patterns across the fold.

I decided to use craft card as a substitute for a tan tile, since I can’t bring myself to pay for the real thing from the mother ship, there being so many opportunities to get it wrong.  I drew hearts as my string, as they are fairly easy to mirror. Then I went off to find some pattern inspiration while the ink dried. (I used Promarker alcohol markers for the colour. so far, so good.)

This is the finished product, two pictures because I can’t quite get the light right. I had fun with this.

Patterns used, Joki, Balldox, a bit of Abundies, Flux, Paradox and Drift.
I may have gone a little OTT with the chalk.

And now it’s time for bed. Have a good week, world and be good- ish.

Into the Blue

A thank you card I left with the tip for the maid who did our room each day.

So we’re off again, to a Mediterranean island where the sun always shines. Well, almost always. We have in fact, on a past visit,  walked barefoot on the beach the day after snow, with the mountains behind us still white capped. Surreal but glorious.  However, that was four years ago and much earlier in the year; we are expecting temperatures in the mid 20s this week.  For those of you for whom this is the norm, lucky you. It’s mid May and we are leaving behind us temperatures in single figures.

Got a new cozzie (swimsuit) and I’ve packed the Factor 50. Going to pop down to town this afternoon and pick up a couple of inflatable toys to play in the pool. No, not THAT sort of inflatable toy and no, the loved one and I have not yet descended into second childhood, not quite – we are on holiday with our son, his wife AND our youngest granddaughter!!!! She’s almost three and a delight. We have taken her out for picnics a couple of times in the last few weeks and it has been wonderful fun. Exhausting, but fun nonetheless.

I’m taking crochet, drawing equipment, my Kindle and tablet with me, working on the assumption that kiddy play will not take up my entire week. And if it does? Well, it will be because I wanted it to, so that’ll be fine. I therefore suspect that I will not be participating in the Diva Challenge No 316, or, at least, not punctually. I will almost certainly do the Challenge but not post it on time.

There’s a Facebook group called “Zentangle, Tangled and Journaled too”, which I read and occasionally join in. Since it involves journals and I have the self discipline of a newt, I don’t keep up with it very often but they have come up with a Summer project which I plan to take part in.

Each person who chooses to participate will select what little size they want to work on (bijou, atc, standard tile, 3Z tile, teeny tiny journal page, etc.) Whatever is chosen, the idea is to remain consistent with that choice every day from June 1 to August 31 and to make a cohesive collection. Working small is the suggestion, since the idea that started this was to build a habit, and if there is a lot to do, it makes it harder to keep up.

The pages inside are the same colour as the cover and I will stick the bijou tiles in, one or two to a page.

So I’ve done the cover of my brand new journal, cut out a couple of dozen bijou tiles ready to start and now I’m waiting in excited anticipation for the thing to begin. I’ll keep you posted.

The other Facebook group of which I am a member is Zentangle Artist Trading Card Swap, which I take part in once a month. This month, well, June actually, the Challenge is to produce;

… a Bijou tile and  a 3 ½” tile. Then you will attach the Bijou tile onto the larger tile by making two ½ inch slits for opposite corners to hold the Bijou tile on the tile. The Bijou tile may be placed anywhere on the tile.


I will probably be producing about half a dozen of these and, as you can see above,  I have already started the first one. I’ve used Margaret Bremner’s Rope – not sure if it’s intended to be a pattern or a string but I’m trying to make it spread from the Bijou to the bigger tile.

the patterns are Jasmin and Slonkel, both new to me and i like them. Slonkel was a bit of a mindbender but it’s part of the fun.

And this is the second one, which I am also using for the diva Challenge 316, as it is stripes. I also think it might be better with the stripes vertical rather than horizontal but it’s too late now. I like the patterns, both new to me – Jasmin and Slonkel. I’ve not properly “got” slonkel yet but i like it a lot. Jasmin is easier and I can see both patterns being very useful when I get to grips with them.

I’ve also tried a few Dingbatz, which is a fun way to use just a little patterning to great effect. I suspect people will be getting birthday cards that have been dingbatted this year. Here are my first attempts, along with the thank you card at the top of the post.

Different stamp and colour for a change.
Stamp for the lettering and the rest is freehand.


Well we’re back and it was great. Deepened the tan – I now look like an overfilled satchel. Had a load of fun on the beach and in the sea with Isla and wore my new cozzie, somewhat to the distress of any onlookers, I fear, but that’s just tough.

And, having done all the washing and actually had nice enough weather to hang it all out to dry, it’s Diva Day and a new Challenge.

So my idea is to use an image as your string – and here i’ve used a model from a fashion magazine.  I sometimes find that shiny magazine paper doesn’t really play well with Microns.  So i thought i’d just photo copy the image (my home printer has a copy function) and then cut it out and glue it onto a zentangle tile.  And that’s what i’ve done here.

You could also cut out the image and glue it onto a tile, as Vonnie suggested last night… or you can go through your stash of fashion mags, or craft mags, or use an interesting photo in a grocery flier..

I wasn’t very keen on this and put it on the back burner in the hope that a stroke of genius would occur. Hmmm. But then real life broke into my safe little world with the bomb attack at the Manchester Arena, less than 50 miles away. Like so many others, I felt angry and vengeful and bitter and vicious and I had to remind myself that there are people suffering out there and my feelings and small mindedness really don’t count for anything in the scheme of things. So I gave myself a little talking to about forgiveness and love v hate and remembered that, as a child of the sixties, for me love is supposed to be the answer.

The original photo, saved for my daughter in law, who is crazy about VW camper vans.

And I then stomped off upstairs to hide myself in some Zentangle, needing the Zen rather than the tangling, which is not my norm. Looking for images to use as a string, I started clearing out stuff that I had saved to the hard drive for who knows what reason. And there I found a picture of a VW camper van and it all came together. Peace, love and understanding, at least for half an hour or so. So my Diva Challenge this week was a brief escape from the nastiness that sometimes turns to horror and for a little while, I felt better.

If you close your eyes and listen very carefully, you can hear Sgt Pepper playing. You can, honest…

And that’s it for this week, world. Forget my usual injunction to be good-ish, be safe, just be safe.

Turning Problem Solving into an Art Form

Well to start with, I’ve solved the problem of how many steps in a day I do – I’ve turned off the step counter and, you know what,  I feel better already.

And then there’s the satchel/bag. Made as a raffle prize but, since I made it up as I went along, there were times when I couldn’t work out the next bit.  It’s like doing a puzzle, working out how to get the shape you want, quite satisfying. So that was problem solving too, in a way. Anyway, it’s done now and, by the time you read this, it’ll have been given away.

And then there’s the other prize, which has given me nightmares for weeks. Why did I say I’d do a drawing for her? The book is called “The Queen of Wishful Thinking”, a rom-com with a slightly darker side and there is a theme of rainbows throughout, which I have tried to encompass here. (And the crown for the Queen bit…)

Before framing.


But this must be at least the fourth attempt and, even now, I wonder if whoever wins it will immediately take the picture out and re-use the frame. (Not that I will ever know, of course.)

And then there is the latest round of swap tiles to complete…

The theme here is floral and Spring and I know I tend to be a bit literal minded sometimes. That certainly appears to be the case with these,

Before and after colouring. As you can see, the colour ran in a couple of places but I think I can solve that with a little work. (Another problem almost solved.)

I don’t actually like the colours on this one and the deeper blue and pink are Gelly Roll glitter but you can’t tell from this photo. Both are drawn using String 032 as a base, although it has almost disappeared in the first one. We could also use Strings 034 or 138 but I didn’t like 034 much. The ones I posted last week used 138 and I stuck more closely to the string with them. Just a couple more to do before I post them off to the USA. I would recommend the various swap groups that are out there, it really is fun to get pieces through the mail from all over the world. Although, sometimes the commitment to draw at least five ZIA with specific limitations each month can be something of a Challenge.

I need a holiday!


As a follow up to the raffle prize angst, the book launch was last night and a jolly good time was had by all. When I went up to talk to Milly and get my books signed, she said how much she liked the picture and I offered to do one for her. She leaped at it, so maybe it wasn’t so bad after all. I shall do similar but different, as, even if I really wanted to, I couldn’t reproduce exactly the same thing. But I made the mistakes on the first one, so, with luck, the next one will be better. Won’t it? For instance, I think I shall place the Mak Rah May more centrally and let the strands make the rainbow shape. And I might put the red in the middle and the violet on the outer edge for the rainbow background. We’ll see.

I also watched a tutorial or two on Youtube. I lose hours of my life doing that but it can be soooo satisfying. The one I’ve taken to was called Yula, demonstrated by Melinda Barlow. It took a bit of thought  but I think I may well use it again. 

And now it’s Diva Day and the Challenge is to use Molygon. This is not a pattern I am at ease with, mainly because I don’t ever seem to make imaginative use of it. I’ve mixed it with a couple of others that I like to see but not to do.  (Joki and Danza) The problem here is whether or not they actually go together  harmoniously and, in the end, I think they are OK. I coloured them with Brusho inks – I’d highly recommend them – and water colour pencils.

So that’s all for now. Off to Majorca quite soon on holiday with son, daughter in law and granddaughter. Prepare for granny tales on my return.


But, until then, world, be good-ish.


A Touch of the Simon and Garfunkels

I may add a little shade to this to tone it down a bit. Can anyone remember the name of the pattern in purple? I love it but can’t remember what it’s called. Doh!

Gee but it’s great to be back home…

is what started the S&G link because, although we go away a lot and enjoy our visits to foreign fields, it is good to be home, sleeping in my own bed and snuggling back into normal life.

However, both the loved one and I got weighed this morning and it wasn’t good for either of us. Forget “He ain’t heavy…”,  he is and so am I. Bugger, time to start being sensible again. So, when you add this to the fact that my new phone has a step counter on it, which threatens to hold a celebration if I go over 2000 steps, you can see that there is something of a fitness issue at Castle Maggibee. (Some days it never gets above two, since it lives on my bedside table and, if I’m not going out, there it stays.)

Still, I’ve done 6000 steps today and it asked for time off to recover from the shock…

It looks less like a bowler – derby across the pond – when it’s on but I was no way going to model it.

I’m up to the eyes in yarn at present, making hats is the latest craze, cloche hats, very 1920s. And a bag to go with one of them. I’ve used extremely bright rainbow yarn, as they are to be given as prizes in the Milly Johnson launch on Friday and one of the themes of the new book is the rainbow.




Clearly unfinished. It’ll be a small satchel when complete.

I’m also doing a ZIA but, although I’ve started several, I’m not happy with any of them, so, unless I get a flurry of inspiration in the next day or two, the hats will have to do. I made the bag up as I went along, so it’s less than perfect but will look better with a handle and a button fastener.

The first hat I did is much more subtle in its use of colour but the style of the bright one works better.



It looks better than this really, honest it does.

And then it was suddenly Diva Day and it’s UMT time, with the pattern being Scallamps.

Weekly Challenge #314: “UMT: Scallamps – by Sarah Uram CZT”

For those of you who are new, the first Monday of every month is a Use My Tangle Challenge, where the challenge of the week is to use a tangle created by one of you!  If you have a tangle you’d like to submit you can add it here and be sure that it follows the guidelines for submission.
This month’s UMT is Scallamps by Sarah Uram and you can see the step outs here 

Not too difficult and quite a nice finish. As it happens, the swap I am doing at the moment uses String 034, (You can see one of them at the top of the page.) so I adapted it for both the Challenge and the swap. It’s a Spring/floral theme but I wasn’t too keen on this one, added a bit of background colour and liked it better but it still needs something.

Not happy with this yet but…
Better with a coloured background?


(Probably starting over!)





Waiting for shading and colour.

And this is another swap tile in progress, awaiting shading and colour and using String 032. I’m enjoying this one, so it’s going better. So, to waste no more time, I’m off the finish this, do a couple more and maybe a rainbow one for Milly – all before teatime!

Until we meet again, my dearios, be good-ish.