Where are we now?

Brief Summary, scroll down for most recent post

Some years ago, I packed up my life and moved from grey, rainy Cork to a small village in the middle of Provence, along with my Long Suffering Husband and a small herd of beasts.  Time has moved on. This new and exciting life abroad has become our normal existence.

I’ve stopped riding, due to chronic back pain. Aero is officially retired and enjoying life as the undisputed King of his herd of five. Flurry gazes at me with mournful eyes and wonders why we no longer go tromping through the woods.  We lost a Small Brown Dog and gained a high-octane brown and white goofball.

The LSH packed in his high-paying day job last year and is slowly building a portrait photography business.

I work at the farm where the horses live, feeding and caring for 30-odd horses.  It doesn’t quite pay my livery bill, and I know I won’t be able to do it for ever.  I need another source of income…

and now I’ve rediscovered my long-lost love of art.  Frankly, I am amazed at what I am producing.  Maturity, patience, better attention to detail and a good teacher are all making me into a better artist.  My aim is to earn enough money from my art to keep paying my horses’ livery bill, and (hopefully) contribute to the monthly household income.

Surely that’ll be possible?

The blog as you know it will continue in its sporadic, random way below this pinned post.  For new visitors, you can find out a bit more about my past on my About Me page.

You can view my Art through the top link in the right sidebar (chestnut horse picture), and you can find information about commissions in the next link down (Dr Whooves picture).

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Taking Art out of the Frame

I am so ridiculously delighted with these.

It’s my Chouette 1, printed on cushion covers by the clever people at Redbubble.com.

Redbubble is a site where artists can sell their images in many different formats. It’s set up very much like a community or social media site.

I’ve been uploading some of my images to my page there, and working out which ones will look good on what.

I’ve duplicated and reversed some images, in some cases so that someone can have two horse cushions which look at each other…

…but also so that it will look correct on certain items. For example, the leftward looking Iberian will look wrong on a phone cover :

His head would end up at the back of the phone, but his mirror image will look fine, after being shrunk down a wee bit :

Who knows whether anyone would want such a thing on their phone cover… but he’s there in case a Lusitano-lover sees him and falls in love with his little face. I also thought he’d look good on a mug, but cropped in close…

There’s a wide variety of things to print on, and it helps that I can modify the background colour to suit each image.

Take a look at my page by clicking on the image below…

Once you’re there, you can see what options are available for each picture by clicking on it. Have fun!

Sales, likes, shares and suggestions for what you might like to see one of my pictures on  are all welcome.

The title of this post, Taking Art out of the Frame, is the title of a short piece I wrote in my artist’s journal on Redbubble. You can read it if you drop by. 

 

 

Horse Chestnut Washing Liquid?

You know those things that scroll by on Facebook (those of you who book your faces, anyway)? You know, orange peel will clean your windows? Drink used car oil for a digestive cleanse! That sort of thing. And you just KNOW it’s a lie.

One of my friends shared this :

I was intrigued. Especially since we really do have a lot of horse chestnut trees in the village. From the end of August to mid October, it becomes risky to sit on certain parts of the terrace of both bars. One of those prickly cases landing on your head could do a lot of damage.

I clicked through to read the post.

As everyone is talking about conkers already I thought I would share my post about conkers and washing from last year.
I have used nothing but conkers for over a year now. As a family we love it.
No smells, no chemicals, no palm oil, no plastic. And best of all free other than my energy.
I have used the four smaller tubs in the picture and have the largest tub left.
I am now collecting conkers to prepare for this year and I hope to be able have enough to help others use conkers.

Can you help me? I need as many conkers as I can get.

How to use.

Chop up small and dry the conkers till they are rock hard. I use a dehydrator for this but you can use an oven on a low heat. Once totally dry they will keep until you need them.
Put 40grms of dried conkers in a 500ml jar.
Fill jar to top with boiling water and sock for at least 10 mins – 30 minutes is better.
You will get a lovely creamy feeling thick liquid.
Seive into another jar.
Resoak the conkers with more hot water. This time for at least an hour.
Sieve the liquid from the conkers again and resoak for a 3rd time. This time for at least 2 hours or over night if you can.
Each soak the liquid gets “thinner”. You can see when your conkers are “spent” they change from a yellow colour to white.
The liquid will have a lovely tree/soapy/woodland smell. This disappears by the 3rd soak.

Use the liquid from the first wash for your dirtiest washing. For very dirty clothes I would use the whole lot, for normal washing half the liquid per wash.
The liquid from the second wash I dont divide and use the whole lot for one wash.
The 3rd lot of liquid I use for towels and things that need a light wash.

I make the liquid as I need it. If you need to keep the liquid pop it in the fridge (label the jar so it doesnt get drunk) and it will keep for around 7 days. Always stir the liquid before use to evenly distribute the “soap”.
The used conkers can then be added to your compost.
Please always say thank you to the trees for the gift of conkers and please plant some of the conkers fo our biospheres future.

The Watercress Queen, Facebook  If you’re a Facebooker, check out her page – they make Ecobricks out of used plastic bottles. A woman after my own heart…

Anyway, I thought it seemed a little too good to be true, so I googled it horse chestnut washing liquid. I found a couple of other low-impact bloggers discussing their recipes and I thought, well why not give it a try? There are literally hundreds of thousands of horse chestnuts falling into the streets of Reillanne every year, to be swept up and put into the community compost heap. Why not collect a few and experiment?

I collected a smallish amount, about 400g. One of the articles mentioned that unpeeled chestnuts will stain the washing, so I peeled them, chopped them and ground them up small in a food processor, and left them to dry in the sun for a day or two.

I tried a fairly nondescript wash first, dark colours, not particularly dirty, followed by some towels. They certainly seemed to be clean and they smelt… yes, ‘Fresh’ is the word. But would they have been just the same if I’d washed them in water only? A real test was necessary.

As it happened, I was working for all of last week. Normally I change jodhpurs halfway through the week, but this time, I used the same pair for the whole week. Five days in a row of ‘horsing’ my clothes.

This is how they looked on Friday evening.

(I wear half-chaps to stop hay and straw going inside my boots, that’s why all the dirt is concentrated on the thighs.)

Could this yellow liquid clean up my manky jodhs?

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answer…

 

 

 

Tada!!!

Here are the photos side by side for a true comparison :

Convinced? I certainly am.

I’ve been collecting conkers like a loon for the last week.

I’ve got a few tips on the peeling process :

Bash each one hard with a mallet or meat hammer. That cracks the skin and makes it easy to get the knife tip inside to lift it off.

In some cases, if they’ve dried a little, you can just winkle out the flesh.

Use a sharp knife with a strong blade. Some of those suckers are tough.

I gave up on the food processor notion and I’ve just roughly chopped the flesh, to dry in the sun on my balcony. If you don’t have a balcony or sun (Hi Cork!!) you can put them in the hot press. Or Airing cupboard if you’re not Irish.

I’ve got about 4kg collected, with maybe a third of them past the peeling stage.

This is going to keep me entertained for some time, but more importantly, it’ll give me natural, packaging-free, environmentally friendly laundry for the next year.

Goodbye little Hector

This pants-wearing little gentleman left us yesterday.

He had been slowly declining for the last ten days, and his owner had to make the heartbreaking decision to help him on his way.

He’s been with her for 36 years. Yes, you read that right. THIRTY. SIX. YEARS.

He’s been with us for two years and was a huge character even when not wearing his sailor suit.

I’ll miss his squeaky bray every morning.

Run free little Hector ❤ ❤ ❤