Friday, 16 January 2015

Slow off the blocks

2015 has been slow to fire up my creativity; usually I'm pretty quick off the blocks, but this year there seem to have been a hundred and one other tasks, not least of which is my Tax Return, stealing time away from my new year's bear-making schedule!

14" Lumi

That said, I've been trying hard to make bears between other commitments and have at last finished a lovely wispy bear, created from softly tipped mohair.  As it's Winter here in the UK, I have called him 'Lumi', meaning 'snow'... not that any has fallen here in Kent yet, but I suppose there is still time!

8.5" Tucker

I popped Tucker on my website right before Christmas, but unfortunately didn't have time to photograph him in my studio and had to make do with a quick snap instead.  Hopefully this clearer photograph will help find him a nice new owner soon.

14" Tian Tian is a shop exclusive

One of the reasons I have been slow to add new bears to my website is that I have also been working on the shop order promised to 'One More Bear' before Christmas ... I didn't manage to complete the order in time because the rotten 'flu bowled me over!  This mohair panda bear is part of that order and so is little 'Guthrie' the alpaca bear in the pic below ...

8.5" Guthrie is a shop exclusive

With any luck, I should have three other shop exclusive bears ready to join them in the next week or so and I have also promised to create a special birthday bear for a collector by the end of this month ...

Once my decks are clear of January's catch up, I intend to take full advantage of my 'no Hugglets show' freedom in February and give myself permission to work on the bears waiting patiently in my head!

Onward Paula!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

A Winter Bearfest Break

I should probably mention I will be taking a break from this year's 'Winter Bearfest' show at Kensington Town Hall in London at the end of February.  With too many other prior commitments dominating my time, I thought it highly unlikely I would manage to create sufficient bears for the show this year, so decided reluctantly, to give myself permission to decline my invitation.


My apologies to anyone who may have been hoping to see my bears at the Feb show ... I will miss you!  I will be exhibiting at Hugglets again in September though, so hope to see you there instead.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Dear Dad..

Dear Dad,

Who would have thought four and a quarter years could pass so quickly, proving that pointless old adage ... life does truly go on.

Given less impossible circumstances, we would have shared many a long natter over a cup of tea by now, or put the world to rights on the 'phone ... me curled in my armchair, you, hidden away among your tools, enjoying the privacy of your garden workshop.

Since your departure, you have been much missed at several unmissable family events, but I don't doubt you were with us all in spirit. The birth of your two beautiful Great Grandchildren (a girl and a boy) a Christening, two Engagements, three weddings and a Degree ... one thing's certain, you would have been so proud and thoroughly enjoyed those celebrations!

We're all moving on with our lives now, we miss you of course, but the shock of losing you so unexpectedly did, by some miracle, eventually ease.  As per your usual instruction in times of gloom, we 'girls' did the 'chin up' thing, as best we could and thankfully, are now able to laugh and include you in our conversations with smiles and of course, an occasional raised eyebrow.  Yes, you were right all along, life is for living.

So, I'm taking this quiet moment to wish you, in the only way I know how, what should have been your Happy 79th Birthday.

With all our love on your birthday Dad, from the five of us, your Grand-kids and your Great Grandchildren.
We miss you. 

PJ xxx





Dad, the journey:

Friday, 9 January 2015

A retrospective?

No retrospective this year. 
It's time to look forward, rather than behind!


So in 2015 I pledge to be better organised, meet deadlines (please don't hold me to that one!) make the kind of bears I would like to own, explore fresh creative  avenues, delve more deeply into doll design and tackle a target I set for myself back in December of 2012 but failed to complete ... more about that to follow.

On a personal note, my 2015 pledge is to continue to always be the best mum and Nana I can be, share as much of myself as possible with my closest family and of course, be the kind of dog owner I can be proud of.

Yep, I think that about sums things up!

Knitting for a new generation

Do you remember the knitted jacket I showed you a few days ago?


Well, my little Grandson arrived at my house looking very cosy in it on Wednesday, so naturally, I couldn't resist a quick point 'n shoot!  I know I'm biased, but isn't he gorgeous?!  The newborn phase seemed to pass so quickly and at just fourteen weeks, he's already becoming a proper little boy, footballer legs and all!

My Grandson Toby

I've been clacking away merrily every evening this week too and now have another 'Nana Knit' ready for Toby's next visit this weekend; a cosy blue cabled cardigan with smart striped buttons ... I do hope it fits.


When I first taught myself to knit, in preparation for the arrival my first baby almost thirty two years ago, it didn't occur to me that one day I would be knitting for my own Grandson.  Now I am able to do exactly that, I am so glad I mastered my needles all those years ago!

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

In Black and White

I was toppled by a 'flu bug in December, so unfortunately there was nothing for it but to delay my order for the 'One More Bear' shop until the New Year. 


Now I have four of the five shop exclusive bears in varying stages of un-made-ness in my workroom, waiting patiently to be brought to life over the coming days.  While I set to work on them, here's a quick snap of the 14" panda bear I managed to complete before Christmas, waiting hopefully for his teddy bear pals to join him on the journey to Stoke-on-Trent later this month.

I still need to give this bear a name and find four more names for his pals, so will have to put my thinking cap on ... unless of course, you have any suggestions?!

Hibernation

Being a new Nana gives me a great excuse to fire up my knitting needles ...


I'm hoping my little Grandson will be cosy and warm in his Nana knits this Winter!


Knitting for Toby, with Polly warming my feet as I'm snuggled in my armchair on these dark Winter's evenings, seems to me to be the perfect way to hibernate until Spring!

Friday, 2 January 2015

For the sake of auld lang syne ..

I have never been enthused by New Year's Eve as for me, the party spirit always seems tinged with an inexplicable sense of melancholy. That said, there is absolutely no good reason to turn down an invitation for dinner with my sister and her fiance whatever the day, or time of year!

Eton Mess mixture: meringue, cream, fromage frais, castor sugar, strawberries, blackberries and kiwi fruit.

So we began the final evening of 2014 with a healthy dinner of butternut squash and chilli, lovingly prepared by my keep fit crazy sis, followed by my contribution of a belly busting 'Eton Mess' dessert (so bad it must be good!) which I balanced carefully on my knees as we drove along dark, windy country roads, out to Fo's house.


To keep us awake after dinner, Simon organised a game of kitchen table tennis and dominoes ...

Kitchen table tennis

Dominoes

And after several more glasses of wine for the non-drivers and some fizzy grape juice for me, we chatted and watched a spot of Jools Holland's Hootenanny on the telly, before wrapping up warmly and going outside to see in the New Year Wormshill style, watching fireworks on the horizon beyond the fields and warming ourselves beside Simon's log burner.

Our hosts, Fo 'n Simon

Despite my traditional lack of enthusiasm for New Year's Eve, I will admit to enjoying a relaxed, fun evening as we welcomed in 2015 with Fo 'n Simon, who are not only family, but also our closest friends.

Seeing in the New Year!

I would like to take this opportunity to wish my sister Fiona and her fiance Simon, a happy, healthy, successful New Year ahead ... and of course, a wonderful Wormshill wedding day at St Gile's Church in July 2015!


Cheers you two!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Christmas Keepsakes

My Christmas began in Wormshill with a lovely family 'do' at my sister Fiona's house on Christmas Eve.  The house was bedecked in fairy lights and filled with warm hospitality.  Three of we five sisters gathered with our families, to raise a glass (or several!) to welcome in our 2014 festivities.

Sisters, sisters, never were there such delightful sisters!

We had a fun Christmas Day with my daughter and the lovely new man in her life ... (gotta love a Christmas romance eh?!)

A new romance for Christmas!

And after pressie openings, followed by a very tasty turkey dinner prepared by my husband (thanks Stuart - nice work!) the four of us wrapped up warmly to tromp off the pud in our local fields and pear orchard, with Polly dashing between trees and leaping into muddy puddles, with all the festive excitement only a young goldie can muster!

Muddy Christmas Polly!

For me, Christmas is all about sharing time with family, so this year was especially important because it was my gorgeous Grandson's very first Christmas.

Walking with Toby and his mummy

Little Toby snuggled into a sling with his mummy to come walking in Wormshill with us for the first time on Christmas Eve ...

Our Boxing Day walk

... then again on Boxing Day, when we took Polly and my kids for a very muddy tromp along the River Medway at Teston Country Park after a tasty cold turkey and pickles lunch.

Playing airplanes with Daddy

At just three months old, Toby is  a proper little character, full of sunny smiles, wide eyes and delightful talky sounds ... and he gives the very best cuddles.  As you can imagine, I loved us being able to spend Boxing Day together!

Toby's first Christmas gifts

I was delighted with the generous gifts received from my family this year, but to receive my very first 'Nana' gifts, was extra special.  I was so touched by the care, creativity and thoughtfulness Toby's mummy and daddy put into the design of these beautiful keepsakes, together with the beautiful reindeer footprint cards Hannah made to accompany them ... these mementos of my Grandson's first Christmas will always be very precious to me.

Christmas snooze time

It won't be long until I disrobe the Christmas tree, vacuum up all the fallen needles and tidy away our baubles and tinsel until another year.  Christmas seems to become more and more commercial each year, but above and beyond all that tinsel and sparkle madness, I still believe the heart of Christmas is intact.

 I have loved sharing these precious few days with my closest family!

Friday, 19 December 2014

TBAAF WINNERS!

I entered this year's 'Teddy Bear Artists and Friends' awards several months ago and had all but forgotten the competition, so to learn my bears won 1st place and 3rd place in their respective categories, came as rather a lovely surprise this morning!


'Kingsley' was voted a 1st place winner in the 'Rustic Bears' category and this delighted me as he was one of the few bears I really wish I had kept.


You may remember 'Chester' from the front cover of Hugglets' 2013 UK Teddy Bear Guide; as you can imagine, I am thrilled he has also been awarded 3rd place in the 'Touching Tradition' category of the TBAAF Awards this year!  

And as a firm supporter of our traditional teddy bears, I am even more delighted this particular category has been so well subscribed with gorgeous traditional bears from all around the world.  It is good to know the traditional teddy bear never grows old!

A big thank you to Lanie and Darren for organising this lovely competition to help promote teddy bear artists. :-)

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Winter Tucker

Been promising the arrival of this little Winter Tiddler bear on my website for what feels like ages! I finally gave up trying to find time to set up my studio and yesterday, snapped him 'au naturel' by our Christmas tree instead ... 


Cute eh?


The cosy Christmas lighting has made Tucker's mohair appear a little lighter than it actually is, but never mind, this little fellow is every bit as cute with or without fairy lighting!


If you are interested in adopting Tucker, please pop over to  my website where full details can now be found: www.allbearbypaula.com

Monday, 15 December 2014

Festive Spirit Tiptoe

I took my eye off the ball and didn't see December coming this year ... talk about unprepared!  So, despite a raging sore throaty-cold-bug of the kind only the threat of Christmas can bring on, I cast a steely eye over the situation this weekend and came to the conclusion there was nothing for it but to grab hold of the impending festive season by its coat tails and get on with it.


By handy coincidence my sister Fiona is the real Christmas Tree Fairy (!) and as it happens, she and her fiance own a truck.  They were kind enough to help me hunt down a lovely bushy tree last week, without a single pine needle dropped in my car, which was such a big help!  Fo and Simon, whatever would I do without the two of you?!


I missed 'Stir up Sunday' by a country mile this year, yet didn't want to give up on making a home made Christmas pudding, so instead had a late 'Stir Up Saturday' afternoon at the weekend, shutting myself in the kitchen with a large mixing bowl, glorious array of sugary, fruity ingredients and the remnants of last year's Sherry bottle ... which I duly guzzled as I mixed, in the search for  my festive spirit.


Between scribbling Christmas cards on Sunday (still haven't bought any stamps) and frantically ordering gifts online (not to mention praying they will arrive in time!) I also squeezed a little time to smear melted apricot jam over the cake I baked a few weeks ago, then rolled out marzipan in the hope I may actually manage to ice my calorific creation next weekend - that really will be a Christmas miracle!  I confess I've given in and bought mince pies this year as fiddling with pastry when our local supermarket sells such yummy buttery ones, seems a trial too far.


By the time Sunday evening turned up, my husband and I were both tired with colds in full snotty swing, so the last thing either of we grumps felt like doing was decorating our Christmas tree but with glasses of brandy to hand (purely medicinal you understand) and fairy lights twinkling merrily, a sneaky hint of Christmas spirit tiptoed into our living room without invitation.  

So whether we're ready, willing and able or not, begrudgingly I have to concede, it really is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Keeping pace with Christmas, or not!

Finding it a bit of a challenge to fit in my Christmas bears this year ... eeks!


I've been busy behind scenes proof reading a forthcoming teddy book for a publishing company, so Christmas bear making time has been limited this year. With a little luck, this work will soon be finished and I will be able to squeeze in one or two bears for my website before Christmas Eve ... not to mention a promised shop order for 'One More Bear' in Stoke-on-Trent. 

I completed the little fellow above, as a special commission this week, but of course, he's already spoken for.


There's no doubt in my mind, Christmas is looming way too fast for this teddy bear maker to keep pace this year!

Please keep an eye on my website for new introductions.  
As soon as I am able, I promise to add new bears!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Special Birthday Wishes

Today is a very special day, because it is my sister Fiona's birthday. 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY FO!!!!

 

Fo is an amazing Granny to her gorgeous Granddaughter Ella ...


A very proud Great Auntie to my Grandson, little Toby ...


A much loved mum to her lovely daughters Leah and Lauren ...


A friend, love and dancing partner to fiance Simon ...


A trusted, loyal, fun and supportive auntie to my kids ...


A generous, thoughtful, caring sister and daughter ...


And above all, I think she's the glue that cements our family together.


So Happy Birthday to you Sis! 
Thank you for always caring, never doubting 
... and never being afraid to tell it like it is.
Much love to you, always xxx

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