Thursday, 11 January 2018

A new year and a new challenge - 'In the moment' series

The photographer, Ann Davis (@annld60 on Instagram) and I have collaborated and will host a competition to win one of three Artful Blogger magazines (recent Nov/Dec/Jan 2018 issue of the magazine).

This magazine is produced by Stampington & Company that publishers a range  of other magazines that you may be familiar with, including Bella Grace, Artist’s CafĂ© and A Somerset Holiday etc. For more of their beautiful publications, to sign up to newsletters or read their blog, visit Stampington & Company

Ann, who is an accomplished photographer, loves flowers. Her speciality is taking photos of bunches of lush flowers in vintage vases using white backgrounds. Seeing her photos in my feed as I browse Instagram, is an uplifting moment in my day.

I asked Ann a few questions about her photography and what inspires her.

1.  Have you always been interested in creating and how did you become involved with photography?

We had cameras around our house from the time I was eight years old. I became the family photographer. In college, I took my first Photography class. When I met my husband 42 years ago, he liked taking pictures and it has been our hobby ever since.


2.  What photographers inspire you and why?

Claire Brocato (@claireb_photography Claire photography on Instagram)   is inspired by many of the things in life that are important to me -  nature, traveling and flowers. Her use of colour and composition is so inspirational.

Another favourite is Barb Brookbank (@keepingwiththetimes on Instagram). Barb’s photography is so inspirational every single day and her willingness to share information about gardening, styling, learning, food…. there are so many more … but I think I will stop here!

3.  What are you happiest doing creatively and why? 

I love taking pictures, whether it is on a road trip with my husband, walking the neighbourhood, snapping flowers, or still life in the studio. They all make me happy and contribute to my wellbeing.

4.  How do you store your images and what editing tools do you use? 

   I store my photos on both my computer and an external hard drive (always). I use Lightroom and Photoshop to edit my photos and have taken many Kim Klassen @kimklassen classes to help me with both Lightroom and my still life photography. 

5.  What approach do you follow when you find you are creatively stuck?

When I am creatively stuck I will do one of two things. Go for a walk or cruise around Instagram looking for inspiration.

6.  Having a word for the year has become really popular. What is your word to work / live by and that you will follow as your mantra? 

I am still using the same word, or should I say phrase, with a few variations and that I chose a few years ago. Embracing the moment. For me I have found that I seem to do better if I live in the moment. You will see me using Embracing Stillness - to help me slow down, Gratitude and I am going to use Kindness too this year.

Keeping Ann’s beautiful images in mind, this photographic challenge is to capture the little moments in life that are meaningful to you or that bring you stillness.

Inspiration can come from incidental everyday moments that make you smile or give you a feeling of wellbeing, or that represents your chosen word for the year. 

It could be as simple as the way a fabric falls in the light, or a steaming cup of tea on a chilly day or a simple curation of your foraged items. 

To participate and be eligible to win one of the Artful Blogging issues in the competition, you need to:
  1. Follow @annld60 and @adiandbert
  2. Post a new photo with the theme in mind
  3. In your opening caption include tags to @annld60 and @adiandbert and #ab_inthemomentseries

The competition closes on 31 January and is open worldwide.

Ann and I will feature entries in our Stories on Instagram and Ann will select the three winning entries after the competition closes.  

We look forward to seeing your lovely entries.

Enjoy the moment. Claudia x

Monday, 1 January 2018

In my January garden - Sweet peas and ultra violet

It’s such a feast for my tired eyes to walk from my garage through my laundry into my house and view sweet pea blooms through the laundry window. It's an instant lift after a stressful day. The scent of the sweet pea certainly is sweet as its name suggests. It is fresh and unmistakable.

Sweet peas were so popular in the early 1900s in England, that the Victorians started the English National Sweet Pea Society. And why wouldn’t you - the varieties and abundance of flowers at that time would be nothing like today and such elaborate botanical design and fragrance most certainly needed celebrating.

This climbing rambler has tendrils to help it wind its way through neighbouring plants. Providing a climbing frame is a way to help train the vine upwards and to be able to show off the blooms. New varieties now include a shrub-like sweet pea for which you do not need to provide supporting structures and en masse or in a border, look spectacular.

Sweet peas are like clematis in that they like their flowers to be in the sun and their roots cool and shaded, so covering their roots and surrounding soil with pea straw enables them to flourish. If you want information about cultivating sweet peas, The Old Farmer’s Almanac site has some useful tips and advice.

Now that I’m on my summer holiday, I’ve cut some of my little crop of sweet peas and they are sitting on my dresser in a vase for me to enjoy their distinctive fragrance every time I walk by.

These butterfly-like beauties are very similar in colour to the Pantone colour of the year is PANTONE18-3838 Ultra Violet. 

I have noticed over the years that I wear more mauve and pinks as I grow older, but I am not so sure I am ready to wear this heady purplish-violet colour yet. 

What about your wardrobe, do you like these bright striking violet colours? According to Gogol Bordello, it’s time to start wearing purple my friends! This You Tube clip made me smile and I hope it will make you smile too. 

And finally, since it's my first blog post of the year, I felt it called for a little poetry and I was rather taken by this poignant poem by E Clearfoster Sheppard (Nov.2014).


You mesmerize
With eyes like the Sun; But
blind me, just the same.

For now I'm left in darkness, clueless
In Oblivion. The world
is now Invisible. So

You are all I see;
And You are all I can. So
more I stare in

Pain & Wonder

How you hypnotize
My mind. Now I stare and
wonder how I'm happy
Being blind.


I hope to be more regular with my blog posts this year and intend to do a post every month, inspired by a plant in my garden. I hope you will follow along.

Have a wonderful year and I hope that only good things will come out of life's trials and tribulations -  that with every sorrow there will be joy, and with every hardship there will be release. And keep on being creative - Claudia x


Julia Jones and Barbara Deer. 1989. The National Trust calendar of gardening lore. Dorling Kindersley, London.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac. 2010?. Sweet peas - how to plant, grow, and care for sweet pea flowers. Retrieved 2 January 2018: