I felt so happy to have won a place at this inspiring creative summer workshop in idyllic Farnham in Surrey. It was a warm, balmy day and an opportunity to meet Instagram friends Bex from Botanical Tales and Becca from Cherry Rebecca. The location was perfect, wildflowers surrounding a colourful hut just big enough for us to learn our new skills - modern calligraphy and flower crown making. We arrived to a glass of elderflower cordial and I met some other inspiring ladies some of whom I have come across on Instagram and some I met for the first time (I tagged them on yesterdays post if you want to take a look at who they are).
We began after a few obligatory snaps with a workshop with Becca, who taught us the fine art of modern calligraphy. This is my unfinished final piece, I just wrote the summer bit and it isn't so amazing but it looks alright I guess! I found the pen quite scratchy at first and then realized it was because I was holding it wrong....!
After a break for tea and gooseberry cake, make with gooseberries from Bex's allotment, and delicious biscuits decorated with flower petals (naturally...!) we wandered around the grounds, the place was practically magical. Bex and Becca made it feel so relaxed and easy.
Most of the flowers came from Bex's allotment and Kim @pigpenflowers flower patch provided those stunning blue cornflowers. After refreshments we settled on rugs outside to begin our flower crown making, a Swedish midsummer tradition. Bex showed us the technique and we got to work. It was warm and hazy with a light breeze, we chatted and laughed, relaxing in the hidden idyll - such an easy place to be.
We look ready for anything don't you think? I love that each of our crowns came out so differently. Multi-talented Bex then put on a lovely midsummers eve supper for us - she used to be a chef so of course it was delicious.
For me it has become important to make the effort to see the people behind the squares where possible and take opportunities for magical days like this. Thank you ladies for such a wonderful time - Happy midsummer everyone!
I took this recipe directly from Sara Taskers blog here, I trust most things she says so this one was no different. You could use any kind of gin, I chose Hortus as it’s award winning and they sell it in Lidl (yes, Lidl!) nearby, not to mention the lovely label. I halved the recipe so I could save the rest for other experiments! If you’d like to see my other post with an elderflower cordial recipe click here.
By Me & Orla
Sara suggests serving with mint, I’m going to try it with classic tonic. While you’re enjoying your drink visit this page to learn more about the folklore associated with the elder.
Let me know how you get on!
Watching the plants and trees burst into life in May and June is one of the great pleasures of the whole year. I saw the first elderflowers starting to bloom only a week ago and some are already turning brown so I thought I had better get these simple recipes up straight away. I walk past around fifty elderflower trees on my daily dog walk, which sounds like a lot but they are everywhere in this part of the UK as they are native here. You can find out more about elder folklore here.
Last year was my first time making elderflower cordial and I made too much and had to throw some away as we got sick of it and it started to look a bit dodgy! Sarah Becvar recommended freezing elderflower cordial in ice cube trays which is a genius idea, then add to water, still or sparkling, or to a glass of prosecco for those balmy summer evenings. I took this recipe (different to last years recipe) from the Country Living Magazine and used lemon juice instead of citric acid, and I used a Kilner jar which I sterilised with boiling water. Look out for the separate elderflower gin recipe for added punch!
I had to remove three bugs and a snail, I didn’t think they would add much flavour. I hope you’ll give it a try, or if you know another way of making this let us know in the comments, thanks for reading! See the separate blog post about elderflower gin.
And come and say hello at Instagram!
P.S. that’s the new rose gold dragonfly wing ring, perfect for summer!
Of the many thousands of acorns produced by the mother tree, very few if any will survive to become a sapling, let alone a tree. It takes seventy years for an oak tree to reach full maturity too - these are slow and steady beasts. I am going to draw on the obvious analogy which I don't think can be iterated enough. To acknowledge how well we are all doing: merely existing seems to be a highly improbable outcome for an oak tree but also for a human, and all the eggs that get away, our ones made it! Not to mention that such a small and satisfyingly smooth nut contains within it the blueprint and capacity to grow into something so large and majestic and live for a thousand years. We have the blueprint for our best self too, right there inside! All the acorn needs are the right conditions and perhaps a touch of luck and faith. Don't worry if you've been nibbled a bit, trodden on a little, and if you're on stony ground, roll off it, or let the wind take you. We must give ourselves the best chance against all odds so we can live for a thousand years! Well not actually that but you know what I mean ;) . So let's please give ourselves everything needed to support our inner oak trees, and get rid of all that we don't need.
Feel free to share your oaky / acorn / growth stories and facts below.
For daily reminders or to share the symbolism you can find several acorn and oak pieces in my shop (a shameless plug? Hell yes - I'm growing too!)
A friend introduced me to this healthy natural truffle recipe, which I subsequently lost. A quick explore of google and here is my adapted version. I'm sure you could edit according to what's in your cupboard though this combination works well. These make a good alternative to chocolates if like me, you've over done it before Christmas has even arrived and want a treat! They also happen to be extremely delicious, and make a sweet little gift too.
I am so happy to have been interviewed by Anne at My Giant Strawberry - a Chicago based artist with a fabulous blog. The intro is here though pop over to read the full interview -link at the bottom.
Interview with Kate Harvey
Kate Harvey is the designer behind the jewelry shop Grace and Flora. Her pieces are nature-inspired and feature natural objects cast in metal. As someone who is always attracted to and inspired by nature, her work speaks to me and I'm delighted to have Kate here sharing her story with us today.
ab: Hi, Kate, thanks for being here. I was first attracted to your beautiful, nature-inspired jewelry and your lovely photography on Instagram, but when I read a bit about you, I became even more inspired. Although you made jewelry as a teenager, you studied zoology at University and then later went back to train as a counselor and psychotherapist. What drew you to zoology? And then how did you come to counseling as a profession? Being a therapist is just one aspect of your life today. Having different aspects to your life -- jewelry design, counseling, motherhood -- makes you feel whole. Can you expand on this?
kh: It's interesting looking back to that time - I loved biology at school, I was fascinated by the complexity of the life forms we looked at, evolution and the whole phenomenon of life itself, which still amazes me every day. I was eventually drawn more to animal biology because they had consciousness, interesting behaviour and I found it all so beautiful....
...READ FULL INTERVIEW
I spent a wonderful weekend at Hill View Farm at a creativity festival organised by Natasha Seidel @takingamomentintime this weekend. 30+ likeminded creatives gathered to learn new crafts, knitting techniques and to get together and share Natasha's delicious home grown and home cooked food, and talk about Instagram! I often feel like the odd one out with an unusual lifestyle, not to mention my big love of Instagram and I felt so at home with so many other creatives and photography lovers who are similar to me.
My first workshop was making ceramic feathers and leaves with Ceramicist Katie Robbins aka @ceramicmagpie. Katie is an inspiring lady with a beautiful Instagram account and very involved in the creative community, particularly on Instagram. Of course we experimented with other ideas like little pots and dishes, and painted them to finish.
After an evening of delicious food grown at Hill View Farm and cooked on site, chats around tables in the tent and the campfire, and a cosy night in our spacious yurts, we joined together again for our next workshops. I had chosen the popular indigo dying with Kristina at @writtenincloth. As you can see we were prolific and under her guidance made bags and scarves and experimented with some beautiful designs. That's the dye pot and our sample pieces drying in the wind.
There were many workshops taking place simultaneously with various crafts, though that afternoon I was very happy to meet Olga @olgaprinku who taught some of us to make her beautiful floral wreaths. Katie and Sarah are shown here chatting away while making their wreaths. Olga happens to have one of the most beautiful Instagram accounts there are so take a look! Scroll down to see the website for the full list of workshops. If you're a knitter or a crochet queen you would have found the weekend particularly heavenly.
I found the easygoing atmosphere and company refreshing and therapeutic, working with other crafts really enhances my creativity. The Yurts were cosy and the campfire still crackles in my soul. Thanks to Natasha and all the workshop leaders, I had a wonderful, nourishing time and hope to return again. If you're interested you can find out more at the hillviewmoments website and Instagram.
You can follow me here and as always the newsletter sign up is on my homepage.