Scottish Adventures: Falkland Palace and Garden

view through window at falkland palace

One thing I noticed on my trip to Scotland was that Mary Queen of Scots seems to have visited/lived in/spent some amount of time at many historic sites. (A little like hearing “George Washington slept here” up and down the U.S. east coast.) In the case of Falkland Palace, it was quite true, as Falkland Palace was a favorite spot for hunting for nobility of all types from the 12th until the 17th century, and Mary was no exception.

falkland house scotland

In the early 16th century, the old castle was tranformed into a renaissance palace by James IV and James V (Mary’s father) who added a royal tennis court, which I know is called “court tennis” in the USA and apparently called “real tennis” on the internet. (Looks like a lot of fun to play!)

at falkland palace 2

The palace later fell into ruin, but in the late 19th century, the property was partially restored by John Patrick Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute.  These days, Falkland Palace is maintained by the National Trust for Scotland, and is a delight to visit.

falkland house garden scotland

The Royal tennis court is still there, and still in use, though I did not take any photos. I was too distracted by the sparrows dipping in and out and all around, and by all the beautiful gardens outside.

at falkland palace

I also missed a photo of the giant outdoor chess set, which kept my children busy, enabling me to take all these photos, and making it a great place to visit for all ages.

May wrap up

flowers still life bottle branch blog

Happy June, my internet friends!

May is possibly the busiest month of the year. At least, for me it is, as motherhood demands blossom, and I find myself filling out camp forms, digging out summer clothing and trying to replace what no longer fits, and shuttling around to end-of-school-year presentations, recitals, parties. And all the while, my garden is also calling to me for attention.

ready for the garden bottle branch blog

In my May garden, I dream big, get ambitious, and have been known to go a little crazy at the garden center.

hot pink peonies bottle branch blog

Thankfully, as in motherhood, there are also rewards in the May garden. My tree peonies thrill me every year, and I silently thank whichever previous owner of my house planted them.

arranging flowers bottle branch blog

This year, thing were even busier, as I spruced up my etsy shop, adding a new logo, cover photo, and ‘about’ section. I even asked a talented friend to come over and take photos of me ‘working’ and added some of those. (It still makes me cringe a little to post photos of myself.)

card display bottle branch blog

And now, this week, I’ve been preparing for my first appearance at a local art fair. Taking my work live and in person is something I’ve been dreading, but also, somehow feels inevitable. Why I decided to take that plunge just now, I have no idea. (If you’re local, I would love, love, love to see you there!)

pretty tea time bottle branch blog

Thankfully, there have also been a few moments of calm, and more than a few cups of tea. Happy June!

In the garden and in the shop

garden tulips bottle branch blog

Despite my best intentions, I seem to be blogging once a month these days. What can I say? I’m just like everyone else: spending more time on social media, less time on blogs. Still, it’s been an exciting month since my last post, so here what’s been going on in my garden, and in my shop.

happy tea card set from bottle branch blog

Bottle Branch Shop: 

I’m trying out a new shop site via pattern by etsy. You can see it here, or if you look at the top of this page, you’ll see a direct link under SHOP. Adding that little link/tab felt like an exciting accomplishment in and of itself, and I have to thank my dear friend Kristen for telling me how.

making gift tags bottle branch blog

I’ve also added some new items to my store: notably pretty tea time cards (see previous post) and foral gift tags. The gift tags have been so much fun to create. You know I love a good project and this one was just right for me – photography, a little bit of computer/printer/photoshop wrangling, combined with cutting and stringing the tags up. Not surprisingly, I’ve got more designs in the pipeline.

larkspur seedlings bottle branch blog

In my garden: 

The most exciting garden decision I made this year was to plant my entire vegetable patch as a flower cutting garden. I started seeds indoors (strawflower, cosmos, gomphrena, zinnias) and outdoors (echinops, stock, larkspur, nigella).  Fingers crossed I get lots of flowers to share this summer and fall!

tulips in the garden bottle branch

While I wait for those, I’m happily enjoying the bulbs I planted last October, inluding T. ‘Christmas Sweet’ and T. “Pink Diamond” (above) and T. Montreux, T. rejoyce, Narcissus “sweet love” in the photo at the start of this post.  I’m already planning what to plant for next year.

Honestly, I’m so excited about all my plans for shop and garden, it was hard for me to take the time to finish this post. I hope your world is similarly abuzz with plans, activities and dreams. Onward and upwards! Happy spring!

Pretty Tea Time

happy tea time april 2 bottle branch blog

I’ve written before about my love of intsagram, and year in and year out, this little free app remains a great source of creative inspiration for me. I love seeing the beautiful photos posted by so many talented instagrammers (Just a few of my favorite flower-loving instagram accounts: Janne, Julia, and Jessica.)

But also, the impetus of posting photos regularly keeps me challenged creatively. In particular, making ephemeral arrangements and vignettes has become an favorite creative exercise and I really love to take “pretty tea time” photos in the morning.

happy tea time in March from bottle branch blog

An ideal morning goes something this: walk children to school, go for a long morning walk, accompanied by either my audiobook or a friend. Fill my pockets with interesting tidbits of nature along the way.

When I get home, I make myself a cup of tea, tidy up any remaining breakfast dishes, and  empty out my pockets. As I look through my collected nature treasures, I like to arrange them in pretty patterns, and usually the pattern involves my tea cup, because, as it turns out, its a lot easier to make a pleasing arrangement when it involve a circle in the center, especially a circle filled with that magic and photogenic elixhir, green tea. (Just my unbiased opinion, of course.)

happy tea time january bottle branch blog

Pretty tea photos are a popular theme (or meme) on instagram, and there’s a whole community of tea-drinking nature lovers all over the world. (Look hereOr hereOr here.)

While I think it might be foolish to confuse instagram popularity with artistic merit or relevance, I do puzzle over what makes these sets of images so appealing. Is it that they are variations on a theme? The balance of sameness and variety?

happy tea time in february bottle branch blog

On a whim, I made some cards with a few of these “happy tea time” images, starting with a set of four photos from the winter months. They turned out so much better than I had expected. I was thinking about listing them in my etsy shop, but honestly, I’m just not sure. I might be suffering from lack of confidence or lack of conviction, but I think they are a little bit weird?! Am I crazy? Would simple prints for framing be better? A whimisical addition to kitchen decor? Or a calendar called “Happy Tea for all Seasons?” I have so many ideas!

happy tea card set from bottle branch blog

In the mean time, I’ve decided to give these away. Yes, another giveaway, but here’s the catch, its going to be an instagram giveaway. I feel like that’s only fair since that’s where they were inspired! If you’re interested, please click over to my new bottle branch instagram page (not my regular instagram account) Look for the photo above to enter. Winner will be posted there on April 10.

four happy cups of tea from bottle branch blog

Thanks so much for reading! I would love your thoughts!

Spring flowers and white line prints

spring bulbs cards celebrate bottle branch

I don’t want to jinx it , but its been a mild winter here in Boston and I’m feeling like spring is in the air. So I’m celebrating with new photo cards of spring flowers in my etsy shop. I’m offering a set of five cards depicting tulips, jonquils and hyacinths in whimsical arrangements, with plans to add individual cards sometime soon.

spring bulbs bottle branch blog

I wish I could say the flowers were from my garden, but as of right now, my bulbs are just slowly poking their way up through the ground. Still, its much earlier than last year.

white line prints in process bottle branch blog

Also, as I hinted in my last post, I’ve finally added some of those white line woodcuts I keep chattering about. So far, only two designs are listed, both originals and fancy reproductions. I’m all ears if there are any requests to see others listed. I have many designs, but somehow, my motivation to list them is low.

In truth, I’m much more excited about the upcoming gardening season, so this is where I’ll be: sitting in my kitchen, drinking tea, planning and dreaming about my garden.

seeds and garden dreaming bottle branch blog

 

Everyone’s a winner!

valentine's giveaway

Wow! What an adventure! Thank you to everyone who shared and tagged and thus entered my Valentine’s giveaway over the weekend. I really appreciate your efforts and enthusiasm and it was quite interesting keeping track of entires, and even enticed me to use both twitter and facebook a little more than usual.

The official, randomly selected winner is Monica, of Prince Snow Farm. Congratulations! Message me your address and I’ll ship them out ASAP.

But, I always feel a little sad, having to pick one winner. I have a quiet little blog and I feel like I know you all, so I’ve decided that today, everyone’s a winner! Here’s how:

First of all, if you entered and didn’t win, I’ll happily send you a card from the Valentine’s set. Your choice of which one. Just message me at bottlebranch@gmail.com by February 1st.

Secondly, I’m offering 20% all items in my etsy shop until February 14th. You’ll need to enter this coupon code, BBvalentine, at check out.

Thank you all for all your support and interest. I sincerely appreciate it!

Just in time for Valentine’s day: a card giveaway!

valentine's-ish cards bottle branch blog

I’ll admit that I’m not really big on Valentine’s day. I’ve never liked the sense of forced romance, though I feel lucky to have a husband who remembers to get me flowers. Plus, I do love the colors and visuals of Valentine’s day.  Just when winter hits its bleakest, we are inundated with lots of pink and red – hearts, roses, candy. (Try not to think about the artificial coloring that lends the candy its color.)

photography project on bottle branch blog

So, I couldn’t resist taking photos to make a few valentine’s-ish cards for my etsy store. I’ve used dried and found plant materials – eucalyptus, pink pepperberries, and red crab apples and you can see my not-so-glamourous set up at my dining room table.

The resulting cards might not be likely to ignite a steamy romance, but since when did anyone expect a card to do that? I hope they’re cheerful and perky enough to brighten up your day, and perfect for platonic Valentine’s wishes.

valentine's card set by bottle branch

To keep things interesting around here, I’m going to give a set away. The winner will receive one set of six cards – three have hearts, and three do not, so they don’t all have to be used for Valentine’s day.

You don’t even have to leave a comment to enter. (Though, comments are always appreciated!) All you have to do is share this post and tag me on Facebook (tag:bottlebranch) or twitter (tag: zibpyle). Don’t forget to tag me: If you don’t, I might not know you’ve entered! And, please don’t go to my twitter account and laugh at how bad it is. (Twitter really isn’t my thing, but I’m working on that.)

I’ll pick a winner by random number drawing on Monday, January 25th, so I can get the cards mailed out well before Valentine’s day. International entries welcome! I hope you’ll enter and good luck!

New year, new projects

frost on window bottle branch blog

Hello! Happy New year! I love January, because it feels like a blank slate. With cold, cold, weather here in Boston, I’m forced inside and have a chance to explore the indoor projects that often get put on hold when there are weeds to be pulled, perennials to be moved, or flowers to be cut.

Right now, I’ve got lots of projects cooking happily in my creative kitchen, and I’d like to tell you a little about each of them.

white line wood cuts on bottle branch blog

First of all, I’ve returned to white line woodcuts and started trying out new designs. With a few tips from Lisa Houck and Amy MacGregor Radin, I’m feeling a little more confident in my execution so I’m working on some final, best prints to submit to an upcoming show. The deadline for submissions in February first, so wish me luck!

cosy blue embroidery bottle branch blog

Second, I’ve started a new embroidery piece. Life doesn’t feel complete unless I have something to stitch, especially in winter. But since I’ve been busy with other projects, I haven’t designed anything myself. Instead, I decided to buy this adorable sea captain design from Cozy Blue on etsy. It was one of the first things I ever pinned on pinterest in 2012, so I’ve been waiting a long time to give it a try.

garden planning on bottle branch blog

Third, after mooning over seed catalogues for a few weeks, I’ve just ordered flower seeds for my 2016 garden. I chose a few familiar stand-bys, like snapdragons, cosmos, and nigella. But I’ve also added china asters, sweet peas, and globe thistles. Pretty soon, my sunny windows will be filled with trays of sprouting seeds. So excited!

Finally, I’m working on new photo card designs. I am trying to bump my tiny new business along, even if I don’t have any flowers or foliage from my garden for inspiration. If you’re with me on instagram, you’ve probably seen some of them already, but I’m also planning to reveal my new cards in an upcoming post. So, stay tuned!

 

December news

pink flower cards from bottle branch blog

I’ve haven’t been blogging much, but I have been as busy as an elf over the past few weeks. I’ve made holiday wreaths, been working on new card designs, and added a few new cards in my etsy shop.

wreath december 2015 bottle branch blog

I’ve also done one fun holiday craft project with my younger children. So far. Hoping to do a few more and post on those a little later in the month. In the mean time, I’ll remind you that cards make a lovely holiday present and I’ve recently added an option to buy sets of cards in my shop. December is always a wild ride. Hang in there, my friends, and have fun!

cards as presents  bottle branch blog