Saturday, December 23, 2017

Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly

Deck the hall with boughs of holly,
'Tis the season to be jolly,
Fill the meadcup, drain the barrel,
 Troul the ancient Christmas carol,
See the flowing bowl before us,
Strike the harp and join the chorus.
Follow me in merry measure,
While I sing of beauty's treasure,
Fast away the old year passes,
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses!
Laughing, quaffing all together,
Heedless of the wind and weather,
~Thomas Oliphant

It's that time to deck our halls with boughs of holly, ivy, mistletoe and this year I've added some old mans beard too because it's so pretty and is worthy of a place at Christmas time. My little dining room counts as the hall and it's again turned into a bit of a woodland winter grotto. A place to take my cup of tea in the morning when the low winter sun casts it's rainbows on the old walls and doors. My place to sit in the quiet and dream up ideas for the coming new year. 
Old tree beard suits the old mans beard I think.
We are almost ready here for the celebrations to begin. 
Gifts are wrapped.
And candles burn as the hours tick away towards the end of another year. 
I still have my Christmas cards to deliver and mince pies to bake, but that will wait until tomorrow now.  
After being in a busy supermarket earlier, it's quiet now. Outside the window, in the space of 10 minutes I have heard a tawny owl screech and a fox bark and it's reminded me of the importance of simplicity and regardless of all the madness us humans create for ourselves buying things that we don't need, the most beautiful gifts are often free.

Thank you to all that have bought from my little Etsy shop this year. You have been truly awesome and at times blown me away with the support that you have given my tiny place on the web. I am so truly grateful and honoured that people all over the world will be waking up on Christmas morning and maybe opening a small something from Moonlight And Hares. :-)

Wishing you a most peaceful Christmas and wonderful magical winter time!


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Two Hours Off. Time Spent Wisely

I gave myself two hours off from packing orders. Time for a walk across the fields. Out into the magic of a frozen morning. I love that sound of frozen leaves under foot. Crispy and brittle, almost good enough to eat. Their appearance taking on the form of edible sugared, wafer thin biscuits? I stop and look down and my imagination begins to paint a picture...
The delicate woodland wafers are being gathered for a woodland feast. The rooks carry the frosted treats high up and over the upper most branches, to a woodland clearing where a fallen tree lays like a long banqueting table. They place the leaves beside heaps of acorns, hazelnuts, beech nuts, chestnuts, toadstools and lichen, for wild boars, red squirrels and the king of the forest the old stag who stands at the end of the tree and roars for the shortest night. His antlers are decorated for the season with frosted icy webs, for you see a small spider has made it's home there...
Was that the animal in me, feeling that these leaves looked good enough to eat, or maybe it was because I hadn't had any breakfast as I was too eager to get out and lose myself in this winter? 
Back home in the garden, I top up the birds food and find beauty in the frosted patterns on the doors of my studio. And here lies the beginnings of another story woven in this intricate frosted lace.
Beginnings that will have to wait until another time though, because after eating some late breakfast, my second hour off was spent making candles.

You probably like myself find that with candles there is often a lot of wax that gets wasted, especially when the candle burns just in the centre (often with thicker candles) or if the wick gives up the ghost and decides it wants to just melt into the wax and not light anymore. I don't like waste, so decided a few years back to recycle the wax into new candles. By the end of a year there is usually enough wax collected to make a good batch. These glass GU pudding jars which I also don't like to throw away, make perfect pots. 
Also any pretty little minature cups that you may have lying around.
First you need old wax. Cut into smallish pieces and try to remove any wick that is caught inside or little burnt black bits.
Have some essential oil at hand if you want to add a few drops to make your candles smell nice, and I have some eco glitter to sprinkle on for decoration.
Melt the wax in a pot or pan over a saucepan of boiling/simmering water. A small old saucepan is best to put inside a bigger one, but I couldn't find my old one in the (extremely messy) shed so used this small metal dish that worked. 
Dip the new wick into a little melted wax to attach to the bottom of the jar easily. Wicks can be bought online, I got mine from Ebay.
Once the wax has all melted carefully pour it into the jars or cups and use a fork to support and keep the wick in place until the wax sets. If you want to add essential oil/scent, then now is the time to add a few drops.
Once your candles have set, cut the wicks shorter and sprinkle some glitter. Easy peasy lots of new candles to use on these dark winter nights. Tie some ribbon around and they are even good enough as little extra gifts. :-)
My two hours off had come to an end and it was back to packing up orders and other bits and pieces. I think I used my time wisely? 
And maybe I will get around to painting that picture in my head?

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Glimpse of my November

November here seems to have been filled with a continuous stream of parcel packing and constant trips to the post office. I could really do with some elf helpers! The only down side to being a one man show, is of course if you are doing one thing ,then there is not much time to do another. So at the moment there is no new art work finished to share. But it's been a fantastic month for my little shop and I'm extremely grateful to anyone that has supported it. You are awesome ! ;-)
Since I last posted here I have some new notebooks in the shop. The same Autumn designs that I had made into cards. Red Squirrel and the sleepy Hedgehog. They are A6 size  and sold individually.
Both notebooks are available to buy here. I've also added some more originals after having a bit of a sort out, so if anyone is after a special present for someone, then you can find them here
It's been quite cold so far this month, colder than this time last year and we've had more frosts.
The mornings have been beautiful.
The skies liquid gold.
And then in the evenings they transform into glorious dark and strange masterpieces which make me want to paint them (something to add to the long list) They remind me of the sky in Stranger Things that Will Byers sees in the upside down. Has anyone else enjoyed this Netflix series?
The 5th came and went in a whizz of pops and bangs and that firework, woodsmoke scent on a cold foggy evening. My children are grown up and both away at University now, but I had my own pack of sparklers and lit them beneath the moon. As I stood watching the dazzling sparkles It brought back memories of my own childhood bonfire nights... 
'Duffle coats buttoned up with toggles, gloves to hold safely sparklers at arms length. A huge bonfire on the Green, and the feeling that Christmas was not too far away. The magical packaging of fireworks, a cylindrical dark blue with white stars and snowflakes, a twist of paper at the top~Snow Storm . Pyramid shaped cone~ inside a silver fountain waiting to erupt, a strange twirly one with a nail to attach it to the washing line post~the Catherine wheel. And the rocket with its stick attached all set for its journey... That bonfire night smell, cold night, first frosts, November fog, woodsmoke and that wonderful firework smell. The next day finding the charred remains of them and their beautiful labels and where a rocket had landed, was almost as magical ' 

"November comes
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.

With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.

The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring."-  Elizabeth Coatsworth

I shall leave you with a little light to brighten up your dark nights. Some magic from a lantern parade that I came across last week in the nearby town of Devizes...
Enjoy the last moments of November. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

A Trip to Caerleon

A couple of weeks ago we travelled over the Severn bridge into Wales for a day. It's not far for us being only about 50 miles or so. Our destination, the town of Caerleon. Ancient Roman military fortress of Isca and later believed by some, to be the legendary court of King Arthur. Of course having a love of all things Arthurian, it was time to tick this place off my list.
The day was mild, the sun shone and the place had a quiet sense of peace about it. Just a few other people were walking around on a Saturday. Our footsteps fell where Roman Gladiators fought and in the October stillness, the gulls and rooks hid any whispers of ghosts on the grassy mounds.  
Like many places in the uk, the amphitheatre is believed to be a possible site of the legendary round table. Since the middle ages it has been known locally as 'King Arthurs Round Table'  In Geoffrey of Monmouth's writing from 1133 he tells of King Arthur holding court at the 'City of the Legions' (Caerleon)
Just fiction, or home of Camelot? I think the mystery is what makes the story more enticing and I just love visiting all the places that are connected with the legend. To read more about Roman times and King Arthur and Caerleon have a look at   
We had our lunch in the Hanbury Arms where Alfred Lord Tennyson lodged in 1856 whilst working on his long Arthurian poem Idylls of the King
It being so mild we sat outside beside the river Usk. It's swirling murky depths, sunlight on brown kept it's secrets hidden within it's currents of all that it has witnessed over time. Roman, Arthurian, Poet and another million stories of the Welsh riverbanks.
"The Usk murmurs at the window and I sit like King Arthur in Caerleon" 

'King Arthur made new knights to fill the gap
Left by the Holy Quest; and as he sat

In hall at old Caerleon, the high doors
Were softly sundered, and through these a youth,

Pelleas, and the sweet smell of the fields
 Past, and the sunshine came along with him' 
~extract from Pelleas and Ettare

After lunch we browsed around the beautiful space of Ffwrrwm. A magical place filled with the most magnificent carvings. Characters depicted from the Welsh Mabinogion
And shops with Celtic inspired gifts, like a tiny slice of Glastonbury.
'Arthur and Mordred in battle'
'Ceridwen and Taliesin'
And the biggest welsh love spoon I've ever seen!
After a tea and a welsh cake in the lovely cafe here, I returned home with a couple of souvenirs and three fallen acorns picked up from beneath the oak overlooking the ancient remains.
Tomorrow is the last day of October, the veil is thin and I shall plant these to remember and help give life to new, from old. 
Happy Halloween x

* King Arthur painting, by Charles Ernest Butler