Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Wishes

Peace & Joy to you & your families!
A homemade, ephemeral Ice Votive filled with evergreen and rosehips

Monday, December 21, 2015

Yuletide Tidings

The wheel goes round. And here we are again, always unbelievably quickly, at the door step of Winter, the solstice, the longest night. It is strange here today - it feels like March. The sidewalks and stones sweat in the mild morning. It will be around 60 today. In my bones I feel tulips pushing up but it must be a mirage. Winter is surely just masquerading, making merry with the rest of us.

May your cold (or mild) winter be full of warm hearts, warm hearths, and hot drinks full of spice and stars.

Mushroom Monday:
Lovely Lavender Blewit

I was so pleased to wander upon a Blewit Mushroom with gills of such a soft lovely purple in mid December. I guess it has been a wet and mild month. What a prize - an edible prize! I only found one but cleaned it and sauteed it in butter. It was delicious. Hope to find more.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

12 Days of Christmas (Journals)

An order of 11 journals just completed for Inviktus Salon's lucky employees. And one below for boss lady :)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Whimsical Winter Windows

 Some festive shop windows that have been keeping me busy. At least I have had many fair weather days to paint.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Ramble Around Ireland #5:
Stone Circles

Ballynoe Stone Circle

These ancient stone circles are strewn all about the Ireland and the British Isles along with other formations such as standing stones, dolmens, & cairns. The purpose of these relics are still mostly a mystery. Theories range from scared burials and religious/social gathering places to celestial observatories (many are aligned with celestial bodies or events). Today, they serve to keep the people connected to the earth and to history, their ancestors. And many folk still feel a connection, often leaving an offering of cloth or trinket on a revered tree as one might light a candle in a place of worship.

We've visited several stone circles in Ireland, England, and Scotland over the years. While some stone monuments have remained as towns and roads built up around them, the ones we have visited have been rural and secluded. It is in this setting that one feels utterly removed from time. The trappings of the modern world fade easily away. If you drive there, you'll leave your car behind and must journey further on foot to arrive on a hill or a plain where the stones still lie after all these centuries. And usually there is a wind, a wind that erases and sound of modernity, a wind that howls from another era. 

At Ballynoe Stone Circle, below, you enter via a dense tunnel of thicket and briar, hedges hung with plump, ripe blackberries and a few wind chimes. You walk from modern road to ancient stones within this transporting tunnel.

Ballynoe has over 50 stones and is believed to date back to around 3000 BCE. The circle is over 33 meters wide and cremated remains have been found here. Beaghmore site has seven circles, ten alignments, and 12 cairns. It was discovered as farmers cut peat in the 1940s and dates to the Bronze Age, 2500-500 BCE.  
Hedge Tunnel to Ballynoe Stone Circle, County Down

Tree hung with offerings at Ballynoe

Ballynoe Stone Circle

Ballynoe Stone Circle
Offering Tree at Beaghmore
Beaghmore Stone Circles
Rows at Beaghmore Circles
Beaghmore Stones

Beaghmore Stone Cirlces

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


December is upon us and so softly and silently did it creep near. The longest and darkest nights will soon be here. I decorate my home so that it is more magical to spend to time in than usual but still I remind myself that I am not quarantined within these walls because it cold or dark. The winter wood holds new marvels. So I watch the sun set and the moon rise and keep warm by a winter fire. May your December be filled with some natural wonder, too.  

Monday, November 30, 2015

Ramble Around Ireland #4:
Dundrum Castle

Heading north from Newcastle, but following the coast, we stopped at Dundrum Castle, an Anglo-Norman castle which was built beginning in the 12th century. Dundrum was a modest ruin you can climb a small tower for spectacular views. The view illustrates how strategically located the castle is. It is worth noting that most of the ruined castles like Dundrum are usually looked after and well kept by a Heritage council and are free to the public. I love how generous the Irish are with their artifacts, their history, their culture. We also stopped at Tyrella Beach which had grand views of the Mourne Mountains. What a beautifully sunny view of the Irish Sea.

View from base of Dundrum Castle of Dundrum Bay

Mourne Mountains from Tyrella Beach

Where the Mountains of Mourne Sweep down to the Sea

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Monday, November 23, 2015

Mushroom Monday

As the days shorten and the air cools, I'm still spying forest fungi...

I think these are Turkey Tails

I'm unsure about these and the few below...They look like puffballs but never appeared white to me. So if they are puffballs they were already past their prime for edibility.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Ramble Around Ireland #3: Tollymore Forest Park

I have an affinity for ancient trees, branches hung at impossible angles, carpets of moss, and green forest light. Tollymore Forest Park just outside Newcastle, County Down, Ireland is a place of my dreams. We arrived early in the crisp morning, entering through a neo-Gothic arched gate. The forest is full of follies. In architecture, a folly is an extravagant structure or building that is built primarily for ornamentation with no real purpose or look different than their real purpose.  Most of Tollymore's follies were built in the late 1700s by James Hamilton.

Just on of the many follies.

We took the trail that skirted the River Shimna and passed through The Hermitage. This seemingly ancient abode was built around 1770 by Hamilton as a stone shelter to be used while fishing.

The Hermitage

The Hermitage

The Hermitage
The forest, the follies, and more that fifteen bridges: an epic kids (and grown up kids) to explore. There is an air of myth and legend all about this forest - Robin Hood hiding in the Hermitage, trolls collecting tolls at bridges, fairy and elfin abodes hidden about. (And for fantasy fanatics, some Game of Thrones scenes were filmed here). We visited near the end of October so the trees had an autumnal glow to them and the paths were strewn with gold leaves. We spent the first half of the day here and could have easily lingered until the half light of dusk when we may have spied the mythical folk of the forest. 

Near the car park is an arboretum with amazing and exotic trees. I recall an ancient Yew, a Cork Tree, and some stunning, towering evergreens. There are public toilets at the car park (much appreciated). There are a few more follies upon exiting including a barn dressed up like a Gothic style church. I believe it cost 5 euros to use the car park, otherwise the forest is free. Possibly the best 5 euro spent on our trip. Tollymore was an immediate favorite of ours. An absolute must if you are anywhere near county Down, which is packed with a lot of other great sites.  

Ethereal morning light
Presumably a Gothic-arched door to Faerie

Stepping stones across the river. There were several sets of these.

The Mourne Mountains in the distance.