Thursday, October 8, 2015

Tea on Thursday - Revelations

Since I last posted Tea on Thursday two weeks ago I've had a few revelations.
The first was earth shattering - I downloaded the new Apple OS El Capitan and now cannot use the free photo software I've been using. Notably PicMonkey my favourite but also Fotor, PiZap and BeFunky are not compatible and freeze my computer when trying to save anything. :-(
Any other Mac users that have also downloaded El Capitan have suggestions? The PicMonkey FB page indicates they may not support the new OS and Safari.
I can still make collages on my iPad but that is going to be a task to get the photos from my computer there and back and I don't have as many options for creativity.
Deanna mentioned in her comment that the only way she could save from PicMonkey in the older OS was to right click so I tried this route and was successful in saving a mosaic.
The other thing was realizing I set too high a standard for myself as host for Mosaic Monday and have changed my strategy to becoming a participant with less obligation.
There are many posts from bloggers about this concept and above is a clipart and below suggestions from a website (TARTX) for blogging without obligation:
*Because you shouldn’t have to look at your blog like it is a treadmill.
*Because its okay to just say what you have to say. If that makes for a long post, fine. Short post, fine.  Frequent post, fine. Infrequent post, fine.
*Because its okay to not always be enthralled with the sound of your own typing.
*Because sometimes less is more.
*Because only blogging when you feel truly inspired keeps up the integrity of your blog.
*Because they are probably not going to inscribe your stat, link and comment numbers on your tombstone.
*Because for most of us blogging is just a hobby. A way to express yourself and connect with others. *You should not have to apologize for lapses in posts. Just take a step back and enjoy life, not everything you do has to be “bloggable”.
*Because if you blog without obligation you will naturally keep your blog around longer, because it won’t be a chore.
I hope reading these points will help others that may have a guilt trip about reading and not commenting or feeling they have to blog more than they want. 
I've found if one can get in the right frame of mind it is possible to lose weight and since August 1 I've lost 10 pounds. There are more to come off and I will confess my secret is plain old logging what I eat to watch the calories. My Fitness Pal is free and on all my devices to keep track daily. I also walk at least half an hour a day. 
We all love it when a box arrives in the mail and this week I was surprised to find a Fit Bit in girlie pink sent to me from our oldest daughter. She's been tracking her food intake on My Fitness Pal along with me for support but is also a runner so we know how many calories she can burn. A big thank you to her and we'll be setting it up together over Thanksgiving. 
Next Wednesday is the big reveal from Stephanie's (The Enchanting Rose) teacup exchange and it will be exciting as we all post and link with the treasures we received.
October 12 is our Canadian Thanksgiving and I wish all who are celebrating a wonderful gathering of people close to your heart with good food and stimulating conversation. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Mosaic Monday #62 - A Dwindling Desire

I've hit a slump that many other blogging sisters have posted about and that is a dwindling desire to blog. It sneaks up on a person and and blatantly stares you in the face. Why blog, who's really interested in what you have to say?
Knowing I was losing interest, I signed up for a mini series of blog motivation hosted by a fellow Canadian blogger and if you're interested in Barb's first post about it, you can read it here.
Our first prompt is to write about when we first started blogging and why we chose the name we have for our blog.
If you look at my date for starting on Blogger it will say June 2008. That is the year I began trialling flowering shrubs for Proven Winners and our Canadian supplier started a members blog for our reviews. This was my introduction to blogging and I began to think about how one of my own could serve a purpose.
At that time I was writing a weekly newspaper gardening column, quarterly magazine article for the same publisher and for a couple of other enterprises. How neat I thought it would be to have a blog as  an extension of my column, to show colour photos of what I wrote about since the paper only published black and white.
For instance, trying to describe the brilliant sunlit petals of this autumn mum when the paper would only print this:
And to note here: since upgrading to the new Mac OS El Capitan, every time I use software to try and save a mosaic, my computer is freezing. Even PicMonkey. :-(
In July 2009 I started Lavender Cottage with this header that I made myself.  Where did the name come from? Drawing from a quaint English custom before the Postage Act of 1765 which assigned numbers to houses, it was customary to name your home for visitors to find it. I had already planted the lavender hedge across the front, love the colour lavender for inside and out so naming our home Lavender Cottage and subsequently my blog came to me quite easily.
To summarize, as an active Master Gardener and member of the Garden Writer's Association of course my blog would focus on gardening. To further a professional look for my blog I hired a designer who later suggested purchasing my own domain name.
Since 2009 I've had emeritus Master Gardener status and when the newspaper was purchased and shut down by a larger publication last summer, I decided to pack in writing a column after thirteen years.
I still like to write about gardening yet as winter approaches I ponder what my posts will be about and 
have to figure out how I want to move forward....
To shake things up I first had to have a serious look at Mosaic Monday. Not wanting to cancel it, I've decided to redefine my role as host. I feel I had imposed too much on myself time wise as a host, so will continue to provide the link and pay the fee for the option of adding photo icons to submissions. However, I will now become a participant along with everyone else as of next week.  This will give me greater freedom for posting, linking and less obligation for commenting. I hope everyone understands and will not feel slighted if I don't visit your submission. Please try to visit a few other posts to leave a comment as I will do. 
I am interested in how others may have dealt with blogging stagnation rather than taking a prolonged break and encourage a comment for everyone to benefit.  It's sad when a blog you follow doesn't have any new posts for months or ever again. Hopefully nothing happened to the person and they just got tired of blogging and walked away. I appreciate how my friend Beth who blogged at Beyond The Garden Gate handled it when she said on her last post that it would be more than likely be the end as it wasn't bringing her joy any more.
Now let's get on to sharing the mosaics you've created and thank you for linking to Mosaic Monday.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Mosaic Monday #61- A Golden Autumn

The days may not be so bright and balmy—yet the quiet and melancholy that linger around them is fraught with glory. Over everything connected with autumn there lingers some golden spell—some unseen influence that penetrates the soul with its mysterious power.
~Northern Advocate~
Autumn is my favourite season as it begins with golden hues and later changes to fiery reds and oranges. The above photo was taken by my granddaughter Cassandra when she found a dead, but still beautiful golden-winged dragonfly. I added texture and a floral frame to soften the effect.
 Golden arching sprays of 'Fireworks' goldenrod and a sassy 'Goldsturm' rudbeckia from my garden.
 Roadside wild goldenrod and a wasp on one of the flowers.
Maple leaves turning gold and the fall colours of a dawn redwood at our local arboretum.
I am thankful to live in Ontario where fall is a season ablaze in colour and Thanksgiving in mid October is the peak when we travel north to be with family.
I don't write if often enough but wish to express my thanks for all who participate in Mosaic Monday. Without you, there would be no meme and we all live busy lives so it is greatly appreciated when time is taken to create a mosaic or two and link to the party.
Special thanks to the regulars who are here every week and welcome to new comers. 
Please try to visit a few other participants, everyone is so talented and would love a few comments on their effort.

Welcome to Mosaic Monday
Link the Url from a post containing a mosaic or collage about any subject. 
Please link back to this Mosaic Monday post so that your readers can find other wonderful mosaics. 
Linked posts not including a mosaic nor linking back to Mosaic Monday will be removed in fairness to other participants.
The meme is capped at 50 participants so please only one entry per blog.

Thank you for participating and sharing your creativity!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Tea on Thursday - The Crafted Garden

I was sent 'The Crafted Garden' written by Louse Curley to review and right off I liked the appealing cover. The book contains some great crafts inspired by nature as promised and if you're like me and collect things from the garden for decor or crafts, you'll enjoy this book.

There are project lists with instructions and suggestions on where to find some of the items. From a simple autumn leaf bunting to a stylish twig floral frame and a hessian plant pouch, there are crafts for every level of experience.
The plant pouch (bottom left) is created by a form of bonsai known as kokedama that utilizes a moss ball. An intriguing form of Japanese culture and easy to put together.
The projects are divided by the categories of the four seasons so that one can always be creating something out of doors or inside.
The end of the book shows how to frost leaves and berries for winter arrangements! Photography is by Jason Ingram and often above the hands of Curley illustrating a craft.
'The Crafted Garden' would make an excellent Christmas gift for the gardener on your list.
A couple of weeks ago we came home to this. The glass in our deck table shattered in the heat and there are still small shards in the garden below.
The colchicums (autumn crocus or bare naked ladies) are popping up in all the gardens. In the spring the bulbs send up green strappy leaves that die down along with the tulips and then the bare flowers push through the soil in late September. On the right is Cimicifuga simplex (bugbane) that is flowering in the back and scenting the whole yard with a smell of grape crush. The bees and other insects love these bottlebrush flowers.
Yesterday a group of us from my garden club gathered for a pot luck luncheon to celebrate friend Johanna's 90th birthday. A party crasher tried to take over the couch beside me on the screened porch where sunbeams danced on his head.
Time to pull out the autumn teacups I bought last year and nibble a pumpkin tart while I browse through The Crafted Garden again and mark a few pages with special projects.
I'm linking with Amy's Five on Friday.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Mosaic Monday #60 - Fall Flowers and Vegetables

My garden club had their fall flower show and tea on Saturday and although I had no entries myself, the tea, sandwiches and categories made for a lovely afternoon.
Below are a few of the entries as I fooled around with templates from piZap, another free editing software. I don't use it too often as photos have to be loaded one at a time and the options don't always work.

Welcome to Mosaic Monday
Link the Url from a post containing a mosaic or collage about any subject. 
Please link back to this Mosaic Monday post so that your readers can find other wonderful mosaics. 
Linked posts not including a mosaic nor linking back to Mosaic Monday will be removed in fairness to other participants.
The meme is capped at 50 participants so please only one entry per blog.

Thank you for participating and sharing your creativity!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Tea on Thursday - My Week of Baking and Tea

I know many blogging sisters are familiar with, and likely make recipes from the Mennonite Girls Can Cook Blog. Recently I made their pumpkin toffee tarts and they are so good I'm going to make them again for a pot luck luncheon next week.
As you can see in the photo, toffee or Skor bits go in the bottom of each tart - so yummy!
My youngest daughter wants to make a special cake covered with fondant so we spent a day together playing with it for practice. Her cake above...
a few of the cupcakes I made. We used a homemade recipe shared by Jacqueline at Purple Chocolate Home and it was so tasty we kept eating bits of it. 
This is the card I made and tucked in the package sent for the teacup exchange hosted by Stephanie at The Enchanting Rose. Her button is on my sidebar.
Yesterday hubby and I took a drive to The Blue Willow Tea Room for lunch that is in Gravenhurst, an hour or so north of us. We had been there previously and all the decor and china is Blue Willow. This is my lunch plate with potato leek soup, beet and cheddar salad and a cheese and chives scone. My tea of choice was Earl Grey cream. 
Unfortunately the service was slow, I was never offered more hot water for my teapot and both hubby and I found the noise level beyond tolerable. What has happened to women that they think a tea room is a place for loud talking and boisterous laughter?  The room was packed and every table was talking loud to be heard above each other. We gave up trying to have a conversation ourselves and left as soon as possible.
Has anyone else encountered this poor behaviour in a tea room? 
I'm linking with Amy's Five on Friday.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Mosaic Monday #59 - Playing with Texture

I decided to play with texture this week.
My best example, a tree with craggy bark that can hide insects for hungry birds and critters. 
Then I put my macro lens on the camera to pick up the feather of a bluejay and the interesting bark from a couple of other trees.
Why not add a photography texture over the photos.....
There is still lots of texture in the garden from a clematis seed head holding little rain droplets to the puckered leaf of a hosta with bigger water drops. 
If anyone wants to play with texture too, PicMonkey has some fun ones choose from. Above is one of the textures from their 'space' option. My mosaic templates are also from PicMonkey.

Welcome to Mosaic Monday
Link the Url from a post containing a mosaic or collage about any subject. 
Please link back to this Mosaic Monday post so that your readers can find other wonderful mosaics. 
Linked posts not including a mosaic nor linking back to Mosaic Monday will be removed in fairness to other participants.
The meme is capped at 50 participants so please only one entry per blog.

Thank you for participating and sharing your creativity!

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