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Keep Calm & Then Scream Pillow
Keep Calm & Then Scream Pillow by FirstNightDesign

This is one of my favourite cushions because of the exhortation. I believe it’s very healthy to scream and let go of all those frustrations. Take a leaf out of Sally Bowles’ book and find a railway bridge to stand beneath so that as soon as a train comes along, you can scream your heart out without disturbing anyone — remember the scene in Cabaret with Liza Minnelli and Michael York? Mind you, I’m not sure just how much noise modern overground trains make so be careful. I can’t actually recall if this scene is in Christopher Isherwood’s book, Goodbye To Berlin, on which the musical is based so it’s time to read it again, methinks.

Keep Calm & Then Scream Bicycle Playing Cards
Keep Calm & Then Scream Bicycle Playing Cards by FirstNightDesign

Southwold Pier in the summer sunshine [Wikipedia]

Southwold Pier in the summer sunshine [Wikipedia]

When I worked in weekly rep in the delightful seaside town of Southwold in Suffolk (UK) in the early 1980s, some of us went to the beach in the middle of the night. The wind was immense and the waves frightening. Who would be able to hear us? And boy, did we scream! As we looked around us sheepishly, we saw that several upstairs windows had been wrenched upwards. We skedaddled!

Keep Calm & Then Scream Bag Tag
Keep Calm & Then Scream Bag Tag by FirstNightDesign

Available at the following galleries:
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

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Roses are Golden by FirstNightDesign

FROM THE ARCHIVE 14th May 2013

A quick post to show some of my latest tinkering!  This image was created with vintage flowers from The Graphics Fairy and my own backgrounds and textures. I do…

Source: Yellow Illustrates Happiness


Flowers of Sympathy Postcard
Flowers of Sympathy Postcard by FirstNightDesign

One of my dearest blog friends, Pete Johnson of Beetley in Norfolk, is in the wars so this is a special post to wish him well. Having said that, feeling considerably under the weather did not prevent him from writing a very funny post about his symptoms. Read and enjoy! We’ve all been there.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Well, my dear friends and followers and anyone who’s along for the ride, my cataract operation is done but not quite dusted. I have multifarious drops — or salves, if you like — that have to be administered every two to three hours and every eight hours, and only discovered at my first outpatient appointment on Tuesday that there are stitches to be taken out in a month or two. What? Stitches? Why did no one mention that before? No, they’re not the kind that can dissolve. Of course not. Why would I be that lucky?

And that’s not all. I have double vision which is going to take a while to settle. It’s marginally better but my endurance is wearing thin.

In a bit of synchronicity, I sold this Vintage Eye Salve Advertisement last week while I was in the hospital. When I originally posted about it, some of you were a little freaked out. There is a market for it! Perhaps it’s been bought as a ‘get well’ card for somebody else who’s just had a cataract operation.

Talking of drops…

A little scene from a Scrapbook made for me as a child. © Sarah Vernon

A little scene from a Scrapbook made for me as a child. © Sarah Vernon

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


bighatexhaustion

I wanted to let you know, kind friends and followers, that I am pulling back on my furious pace. There is always a problem with bandwidth and a decent connection in this part of Crete and I’ve now discovered that the worst offender when it comes to eating up gigabytes is not the uploading of my art to the various galleries or downloading free images to work on, as I’d thought, but the visiting of so many blogs to like and comment!

This is very frustrating as it’s important to me to give as much as I can in the support of others. I always knew I would have to cut the amount of time I was spending on myriad blogs at some point because it leaves me no time or energy to commit to my art which rather makes a nonsense of doing it in the first place! I’ve always tried to keep up with followers who post four or more times a day but oh my, it’s tough and I just can’t do it. Ordinary (and often extraordinary) life has to play a part, including sitting on the sofa eating chocolates and watching Casablanca, Day for Night or the Sharpe series with Sean Bean for the umpteenth time. Very heaven.

If you’re on Twitter, then you will probably know that @RoundTeam retweets my followers’ tweets. but there will be far less of me tweeting direct from blog posts. I will give priority to those who actively support me here and to those history or theatre-related posts that I plan to re-blog on First Night History or Rogues & Vagabonds.

As for future blog posts, these may not be every day. And during the next week, I will be spending time updating my Zazzle Design and Zazzle Vintage stores as too many pieces from the last few months are limited to cards, postcards, stamps and posters. I don’t sell every product that Zazzle produces but it takes a lot of time to do even the reduced number.

And so, I bid you adieux until we meet again. Have a splendid Halloween!

#BLOGSHARELEARN LINKY PARTY OCTOBER 30/15

#MidLifeLuv Linky

My work can be bought at the following galleries and on various products:
Redbubble
Crated
First Night Design Zazzle US
First Night Design Zazzle UK
First Night Vintage US
First Night Vintage UK
Fine Art America
Fine Art England
Saatchi Art

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Garlic is for Heroes Postcard
Garlic is for Heroes Postcard

There’s a taverna down the road from us in Chorafakia called Sunset. Not a name to conjure with, I grant you, but you can glory in a burnt orange sky while eating delicious home-made food.

The owner-chef, Maria, was born in 1950 in the mountain village of Semprona and arrived in Chorafakia at the oh-so-young age of 16 to marry Jacob Pantzelioudakis. She likes nothing more than providing traditional Cretan recipes using fresh food. She grows her own fruit and vegetables and rears  her own chickens, lambs, goats, rabbits and more. When so many tavernas this side of Crete (north-west), cheat their customers with mass-produced moussakas heated in a microwave, it’s a relief knowing you will be served freshly cooked food every time.

In our early years here, we were naïve enough to eat in a taverna at one end of the Venetian Harbour in Chania. I had moussaka and Mr FND had a steak—what was he thinking of! The first had been microwaved to within an inch of its life and had evidently first seen the light of day a week before. The second had seen service at Chernobyl. We sent both meals back. We already knew that the Greeks like their meat well done but this well done? They tried again with exactly the same result. Even Mr FND’s Retsina was grotesque. We gave up and went to complain, and saying we refused to pay. There was a huge furore with the restaurant owner, the chef and us. We were accused of scamming them. I won’t continue but you get the picture. Needless to say, we have never returned.

MussakasMeMelitsanesKePatates01The best moussaka I have eaten here in seven years was cooked by our friend Stela when she invited us to supper. I no longer order moussaka anywhere. I lie. There is another taverna in one of the nearby villages that does a mean moussaka. But it’s still not as tasty as Stela’s.

The following recipe is adapted from Maria’s self-published cookery book, Maria’s Recipes. Sadly, we had an accident a few months ago which meant that part of the book has been blighted by water damage. What is even sadder is that Maria has not been able to afford to do print run for the last couple of years or I’d buy a further copy.

There’s Taramasalata and Tzatziki but have you heard of Skordalia? It’s a garlic dip and fans of garlic will want to double up the following quantities. In fact, to serve four, I’d suggest you quadruple the ingredients!

skordalia-maria

Photo of Skordalia Dip from Maria’s Recipes with evidence of the water damage and torn pages!!

Skordalia (Σκορδαλιά) Garlic Dip

Ingredients

3 medium potatoes
3 slices of brown bread
1 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
4-5 cloves garlic, crushed
salt & pepper to taste

Method

Peel, boil and mash the potatoes. Soak the bread in water then squeeze hard to remove excess water and place together with the rest of the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Drizzle with olive oil.

Yes, it’s that simple! It can be served as a dip but is most often served as a side dish with salted cod. However, it goes well as an accompaniment to most fish, meat or vegetable dishes.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


I’m delighted to tell you that while I was hamstrung by lack of bandwidth over Thursday and Friday, I sold 10 copies of this greeting card, Flying Turkeys, on Greeting Card Universe. Ostensibly for Thanksgiving, there is nothing to say it can’t be used for any occasion under the sun.

I see that my note beneath the card says:

‘The shadows of flying turkeys trying, perhaps, not to be caught and end up on the Thanksgiving table!’

I don’t often mention GCU as I stopped uploading onto the site very early on because it was such a bore; every card has to be approved and that can take days and days, and then they want the sort of changes that makes any creation pointless. What I see as charm, they see as mistakes. Since the same creations sell on Zazzle, Redbubble and Fine Art America, they can go hang because I’m not compromising when it comes to my art (do you see the high horse?).  Am I cutting off my nose to spite my face? Probably. Am I missing out on sales? Probably. Do I care? Not really — life’s too short.

Flying Turkeys iPhone 5 Cover
Flying Turkeys iPhone 5 Covers from Zazzle

Available at the following galleries:
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Greeting Card Universe

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Re-jigged post from 2013.

English: Image of American author Louisa May A...

Louisa May Alcott, from a photo taken just previous to her going to Washington in 1862 as a hospital nurse. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


“She is too fond of books and it has turned her brain.”


What? Louisa May Alcott said that!  Surely not.  In case you’re thinking that the author of Little Women was not the woman you had always thought, fear not.  She put this absurd thought into the mouths of one of her characters in Work: A Story of Experience, a semi-autobiographical novel published in 1873 about a determined young lady intent on finding satisfying and worthwhile work.

As if one could ever read too many books; as if a fondness for the written word could ever addle the brain.

littlewomen

The Complete Little Women Series: Little Women, Good Wives, Little Men, Jo’s Boys

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


La Toilette de Vénus by François Boucher [Wikimedia]

I had forgotten about Wet Magic until I sold a postcard of it yesterday. It was one of my first adaptations of a classic piece, in this instance La Toilette de Vénus by François Boucher [1703-1770] which can be seen at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. It took me days — my Photoshop skills were almost non-existent at the time — and days and days. The idea of switching her from right to left and turning her into a mermaid came from my love of E Nesbit’s children’s books and specifically Wet Magic in which her protagonists save a mermaid from the circus, and much else besides.

Extract from Wet Magic in which Nesbit quotes John Milton:

‘Now, Francis,” [Mavis] called. And Francis came slowly with his thumb in The Water Babies. It was nearly dark by now, but Mavis had lighted the four dolls’ house candles in the gilt candlesticks and set them on the table round the aquarium.”Look through the side,” she said; “isn’t it ripping?””Why,” said Francis slowly, “you’ve got water in it–and real anemones! Where on earth…?””Not real,” said Mavis. “I wish they were; they’re only dahlias. But it does look pretty, doesn’t it?””It’s like Fairyland,” said Kathleen, and Bernard added, “I am glad you bought it.””It just shows what it will be like when we do get the sea creatures,” said Mavis. “Oh, Francis, you do like it, don’t you?””Oh, I like it all right,” he answered, pressing his nose against the thick glass, “but I wanted it to be waving weeds and mysterious wetness like the Sabrina picture.”The other three glanced at the picture which hung over the mantel piece–Sabrina and the water-nymphs, drifting along among the waterweeds and water-lilies. There were words under the picture, and Francis dreamily began to say them:–“Sabrina fair,
Listen where thou art sitting.
Under the glassy green, translucent wave…
In twisted braids of lilies knitting
The loose train of thine amber-dropping hair…”‘
1024px-François_Boucher_-_La_Marquise_de_Pompadour

La marquise de Pompadour by François Boucher [Wikimedia]

And why Madame de Pompadour? Louis XV’s famous mistress commissioned La Toilette de Vénus for the boudoir at her château near Paris. She was a devotee of the artist and his patroness from 1747 until she died in 1764. According to the metmuseum, ‘…she had acted the title role in a play, staged at Versailles, called “The Toilet of Venus,” and while this is not a portrait, a flattering allusion may have been intended.’ Visit Last Post to read several fascinating articles about Madame de Pompadour by Pippa Rathborne.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Originally posted on First Night Design.

It’s a very strange feeling when you discover that an artist you admire had the same disabling illness as you have, especially when it’s relatively rare, not to mention impossible to describe succinctly. Paul Klee — though it wasn’t diagnosed until ten years after his death in 1940 — had Scleroderma, an autoimmune condition that can be utterly debilitating. I have wanted to write about Scleroderma and its affect on my life and work for some time but I never thought I would be doing so with reference to Paul Klee!

In essence, Scleroderma in all its forms is a chronic circulatory and connective tissue disorder in which the body’s defences attack its own organs and tissues. The Raynaud’s & Scleroderma Association website describes it thus:

‘Scleroderma is an uncommon disease of the immune system, blood vessels and connective tissue. In this condition the skin, usually…

via First Night Design | Me, Paul Klee, and Scleroderma | First Night Design.


440px-MortimerMarshallRylands

Writer Raymond Mortimer, Frances Partridge (then Marshall) and Dadie Rylands.

‘What I most dread is that life should slip by unnoticed, like a scene half glimpsed from a railway carriage window. What I want most is to be always reacting to something in my surroundings, whether a complex of visual sensations, a physical activity like skating or making love, or a concentrated process of thought; but nothing must be passively accepted, everything modified by passing it through my consciousness as worm does earth.

From a 1940 diary entry by Frances Partridge [1900 – 2004], a part of the Bloomsbury Group who outlasted them all.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Valley Rose Countdown Calendar
Valley Rose Countdown Calendar

Once upon a time, as older followers will know, I used to pop over to the blogs of new followers to say thank you. Since the end of November, it has been impossible to keep up, partly because I had no computer or internet connection from then until mid-to-late January and partly because you’ve followed me in your droves! I am immensely grateful for your support and this post is a long-overdue thank you.  I hope you will accept these virtual chocolates and Jelly Belly beans as small tokens of my esteem.

Eat Me! Jelly Belly Candy Tins
Eat Me! Jelly Belly Candy Tins

I adore Jelly Belly beans and as soon as I knew my niece was flying out to stay with me last month, I asked her to find and bring me some as I have not been able to find them in our Cretan neck of the woods. She couldn’t find them in her part of London either…until, that is,  she walked into duty-free at Gatwick! Needless to say, I’ve now eaten them all and am having withdrawal symptoms!

Get Out, Greedy Guts! Jelly Belly Candy Tins
Get Out, Greedy Guts! Jelly Belly Candy Tins

TAKE THE FLOOR

I’m also taking a leaf out of Jason Cushman’s book by offering the floor to all of you. Post a comment with a link to one of your posts that you’re particularly proud of and let’s get to know each other.

Keep Calm and Then Scream Chocolate Countdown Calendars
Keep Calm and Then Scream Chocolate Countdown Calendars

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah



‘The confluence of perhaps the most exotic cultures in the world exist right here in this pink city. Arabian, African, and European influences are found in the streets, its inhabitants, and its monuments.’ Sensational Colour


Marrakesh Arches Greeting Cards

I went to Morocco in 1986. A week in Agadir was not the delight my then boyfriend and I had hoped. The sky was grey, the beach was grey, and the sights were grey. We hadn’t realised that the earthquake of 1960 had destroyed so much. According to BBC News, it was the deadliest in Moroccan history.

The rebuilding was typical 1960s fare and depressing beyond belief.  Marrakesh, however, proved to be a highlight and we spent two days and nights taking in the lemons, pinks and ochres of the buildings and the souks, and bought endless supplies of saffron. We also tried to sell my chap’s wilful, spoilt and selfish daughter for a couple of camels. The Arabs didn’t want to endure her temper tantrums any more than I did. Shame!

Marrakesh Arches
Marrakesh Arches Throw Pillows

Available at the following galleries:
Redbubble
Crated
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America
Fine Art England
Saatchi Art tba

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


When I was a little girl I longed for an old-fashioned rocking horse. I got a doll’s house, a blackboard easel and books but never a rocking horse. I feel the lack to this day!

Rocking Horse
Rocking Horse iPad Mini covers

The above collage was one of my earliest efforts and contains several artefacts relating to mine and my parents’ childhoods including a doll called Suza that belonged to my mother and my father’s baptism certificate! The rocking horse is a miniature bought eight or so years ago from a local charity shop when we were still living in London.

Ride on a Rocking Horse
Ride on a Rocking Horse Mousepads

Ride on a Rocking Horse was created with the illustration of a boy and his horse from Wikimedia to which I added this little ditty:

A ride on a rocking horse now
Forward and backward we go
With a hand on the mane, a grip
On the rein,
A frightening speed,
To and fro again.
Gee up, gee up, gee whoaooh
Gee up, gee up, gee whoah.

I’m in the mood to do another rocking horse and am considering what I can do with this image, also via Wikimedia, taken at the Beamish Museum, County Durham, England.  Textures are in order. Watch this space!

rockinghorseblog

I may not be around much in the next week as my eldest niece is coming to stay. Have a good one.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


What could be better than a party to herald the Spring and nurture the hope in our hearts? Freedom is a precious commodity these days. Rousseau’s famous words – “Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains” have never been more apt than they are today. The élite is forcing upon us a world in which we have no say and little means of survival. But we have to keep hope in our hearts or we are lost.

Available at the following galleries:
Redbubble
Crated
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America
Fine Art England
Saatchi Art tba

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

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