Monday, 21 July 2014

on the needles

on the needles

I thought I'd share a glimpse of my current knitting project.

It's a work in progress and I'm not following a pattern, so we'll have to see how it goes, but maybe I will write up my own knitting pattern if it turns out to be a success!

Simple stripes.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

weekend printmaking

printed pillows

Yesterday I spent the afternoon doing some potato printing.

It has been ages since I've done any printmaking so it was really nice to do some printing with such simple and immediate results.

potatoes

I used some gold and navy fabric paints, chopped up a couple of potatoes and tried them out on some paper, tote bags and pillowcases.

printmaking

The navy worked really well on the pillowcases. The gold paint doesn't look that bold from a distance but looks nice up close as it's really sparkly. I think I'll invest in a wider range of colours next time though - it would be good to create something really bright!

patterns

Pleasing potato patterns.

Friday, 18 July 2014

a cardigan for summer

cardigan

Here's the knitting project that I mentioned the other day. I finished it! A nice summer's cardigan.

I used a pattern from this book, as recommended by Emily who has made a few gems from the pattern, including this amazing sparkly number. The pattern recommended some super soft angora wool, which would have been a real treat, but I was aiming for a more summery garment so I substituted it for some recycled cotton yarn.

I'm really pleased with the outcome - its very comfortable and the right level of cosy. And it was really pleasant to make as it was mostly knitted together as one piece, so I managed to avoid too much of the dreaded sewing together.

Perfect for a summer's evening in the garden or by the sea.

And I might well make a winter version at some point too, using some cosy lambswool. Super soft, like this little friend...

garden

Monday, 14 July 2014

let's cook: cheesecakes

let's cook cheesecake

This instalment of our cooking challenge is dedicated to cheesecakes.

You can see our results above. My mum made the strawberry cheesecake on the left, and I made the blueberry one on the right. What a feast for the eyes they both turned out to be!

I enjoyed this challenge a lot. Browsing for recipes was a real pleasure, and when I stumbled across this purple delight shared by Kelly of sass & veracity I was sold.

I found the recipe a tad fiddly, as it was from a Scandinavian book and a lot of the ingredients were measured in volume rather than weight - it's tricky to know how much a litre of blueberries is!  I was also feeding a couple of vegetarians so had to substitute the gelatine for a vegetarian alternative.

That meant I ended up changing some of the measurements so it was all a bit of a gamble, but it paid off I think! The cheesecake had a very light mousse-like consistency (possibly down to the gelatine), and I think it would make a great dessert for any summer dinnertime.

The reviews were pretty positive too, with the only downside being that the biscuit base was a bit on the soft side (I think this could be rectified by chilling the mixture a bit more before constructing the cake).

My mum wasn't entirely satisfied with her one. The base was a bit on the solid side, and ended up extremely hard to slice through. She reckons it looked better than it tasted, and unfortunately my dad (head judge) agreed.

So the scores are in:

I got awarded 9/10 with one point deducted for a soggy base.
My mum got a 6/10 from my dad - not a bad score!

I'd say that was a pretty successful one all round!

blueberries












If you fancy making a purple cheesecake of your own, here's my adaptation of the recipe:

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Blueberry cheesecake
(using a 23cm cake tin)

Ingredients

For the base:
200g digestive biscuits
80g melted butter (unsalted)

For the filling:
470g blueberries
100ml water
1 sachet vegetarian gelatine
500g cream cheese
300ml whipping cream
160g fine golden caster sugar
1½ tablespoons vanilla sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

To decorate:
Icing sugar
Fresh mint

Instructions

Crush the biscuits into crumbs and mix with the melted butter. Press into the bottom of a parchment-lined cake tin. The layer should be about 5mm thick.

Pour the water and most of the blueberries (save some to decorate the top!) into a saucepan. Squish the blueberries with a pestle or rolling pin and boil for a few minutes. The colour should now be a lovely deep purple.

Strain through a sieve to give a clear juice, and then pour the juice back into the pan.

Soak the vegetarian gelatine flakes in a little cold water to dissolve them a bit, then add to the blueberry juice and heat at a low temperature. Once it's all mixed in with the juice allow it to cool. Add the caster sugar to this mixture while it's still a little warm so that the sugar also dissolves.

Whip the cream, then mix with the cream cheese, vanilla sugar, lemon juice and finally the blueberry mixture.

Stir until the mixture becomes a nice even purple colour.  I would then pop it in the fridge for a little bit (approx. half an hour) to cool the mixture down before adding to the biscuit base - hopefully this will avoid a soggy bottom.

Cover the base with the mixture and smooth over the surface with a spatula.

Keep refrigerated overnight (or for a minimum of 4 hours).

When you are ready, remove from the tin, decorate with the remaining blueberries, fresh mint and icing sugar. Then serve.

blueberry cheesecake

Yummy!

Next time the challenge is to make two different dips and some dipping sticks. Summer snacks.

Monday, 7 July 2014

plenty of purple

purple

I've noticed a bit of a purple theme around me in the last week or so.

Clockwise from top left: Brodiaea, a treat to myself // Blueberries on a homemade cheesecake // Flowers that remind me of rainbow drops // A near-finished knitting project.

I wouldn't usually put purple near the top of my favourite colours list, but these things are doing it for me!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

pretty post

a treat in the post

Last week I arrived home from work to a nice bit of post from Laura. She sent me this Gocco print in return for one of my watercolour dots postcards.

I love it - the patterns and colours are such a grand combo.

Thank you Laura!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

petting zoo

jerry
snoozing

Time spent with pets is always a pleasure.
Even if some of them do make my eyes incredibly itchy.

As well as seeing these guys at the weekend I also went to Birdworld where I got to stroke baby goats and rabbits, and hold a tiny mouse. So soft!

Monday, 23 June 2014

A bear for a baby

rattle

Here's a crochet rattle I finished off last week for a little fella named Rory.

I went on a shopping trip and bought lots of different noisemakers for putting inside toys. I couldn't decided between a squeak, a rattle, a bell or a sort of shaky bouncy noise, but I settled on the rattle as I thought it would be least annoying on repeat. I'm well equipped for future toy making now though!

Here's the pattern from Ravelry if you want to make one too. There are also more animals to choose from (although I think the bear is best).

Look at him go!



Monday, 16 June 2014

blog hop

bloghop

My good pal Lucy tagged me in a little blog hop scheme last Monday. The aim is to share some of your favourite blogs and create a little hopping journey from site to site.

Do hop back to Lucy's blog and check out her stuff! She has an ace mix of photography, illustration and craft projects and tutorials and her blog is a treat for the eyes.

Now, to the questions....

card

What have been the doings/makings/scribblings at your desk/making table in the last week?

I've got a few different projects on the go at the moment - although most of them are 'in progress' and yet to be completed.

I've been playing around with watercolour a lot lately and have made a couple of cards for friends and family in the past week. And I've also got a couple of knitting projects on the go - one is a present, so I can't share it yet, and the other is a cardigan for me. I'm knitting it as one piece on circular needles which is a first. I hope it turns out ok...

brighton

Where are you currently finding you inspiration? 

I get a lot of inspiration when I'm out and about - I always try to take my camera, and sometimes a sketchbook, on day trips and outings to capture the things I see.

There's also a lot of inspiration right on my doorstep. The photos above were taken yesterday on a lazy Sunday stroll around Brighton.

And like a lot of people, I tend to have a have a look at Pinterest most days. It's a great place to collate inspiring images and ideas.

day 13-18

How important is being creative to you and how do you blend this with your work/life/family balance?

My 'day job' is in digital design so creative projects are a big part of my life. Having said that, the type of projects I work on in my spare time and showcase on my blog allow for a different kind of creativity to my professional work. The projects I work on in my free time are more hand-crafted and tactile, such as knitting projects, drawing, painting, or collage.

Finding time to make and create is something I sometimes struggle to fit in these days, but setting myself mini-projects to fit around the rest of my life like this drawing challenge are a good way to encourage myself.

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That's enough about me. Here are some blogs I would recommend you hop over to next, all from lovely people I have the pleasure of knowing in person:

What you sow - This is a delightful blog is run by Lyndsey and is full of gardening and craft-related inspiration and tips. Lyndsey takes beautiful photos and shares a whole host of ideas and projects that will make you want to get creative both indoors and out.

Peggy Jobbins Thrift Mistress - This is a fairly new blog from Hannah, and I've been really enjoying having a read. It's a lovely mixture of thrifted finds, craft projects and stories from nice outings around Sussex, and beyond.

Stitch & Crumb - Alison's blog is a feast for the eyes, and is full of great photography, stories from her travels and time living abroad, cookery and craft projects. I've been really enjoying delving into it recently.

Emiliabird - Another treat of a blog from a pal of mine. Emily is an extremely talented knitter and dressmaker and shares lots of her lovely projects on her blog. She even set herself the challenge one year of not buying, but making all her clothes. Lovely stuff.

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Happy hopping!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

walking and windmills

windmill

On Friday we walked in the sunshine along the coast path to Rottingdean, and then back over the hilltops, via the windmill.

It was a lovely time.

mill

Oh, apart from the hayfever attack on the way home.

Monday, 9 June 2014

lambing

adventurer noisy sleeping sheep small

I've been taking a film camera on some of my trips for the last year or so, which I enjoy a lot as it encourages me to be very pretty selective about the photos I take - the 'every photo is important' mentality. I also like the fact that when I get a film developed it tends to include a collection of outings, sometime spanning seasons, with photos cropping up that I've almost forgotten I took.

The only downside is that my photojournalism ends up being several months out of date by the time I have the photos back, which sometimes puts me off sharing them with the world.

I couldn't resist sharing these photos though - look at the little lambs! I took them back in April when Ben and I went to Coombe's farm to see the lambing.

I can't say I 100% enjoyed the whole experience (there was the odd moment when I felt like the sheep might be having a better time if they didn't have 50 adults and children crowded round them) but we got to see two tiny lambs take their very first steps, which was definitely a treat.

They're probably huge by now!

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Watercolour dots. A mini series.

dots

I painted some watercolour postcards this week. I wanted to put some bright colours down on paper and didn't really have an idea of what I wanted it to look like.

I love the way watercolours change as they dry. The bold edges and the colour blending within the shapes leave me with a feeling of great satisfaction.

conjoined

Does anyone want me to send them a postcard?

Monday, 2 June 2014

making on a small scale

mini making

I'm not sure what's changed but I've been having trouble finding time to make and draw recently.

Luckily, at the weekend I had a few hours to spare so I made some beaded necklaces, and had a play with the watercolours.

I must do this more often.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

ceramic cat

found ceramic cat

This ceramic cat was found buried in our garden last week.
I like him a lot - he has a very nice face.

I've been thinking about doing a bit more ceramics or pottery recently, since it's now well over a year since I did my mini pottery course.

I've just started a board on pinterest full of nice handmade ceramics that make me feel like getting my hands messy with clay.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

double sketchbooks


We did it.
A drawing a day until the sketchbooks were full.

day 1-6 day 7-12 day 13-18 day 19-24 day 25-30 day 31-36 day 37-42 day 43-48

It's very satisfying to see all the images laid out together like that.

There were a few wobbly/slapdash/drawing under the influence pictures (a couple were drawn on an aeroplane in near darkness), but I think we did pretty well to manage one every day. It has definitely made me want to keep drawing more often, and Ben has already started a second book.

Maybe he'll let me share some more pictures?

Here's a flickr set of slightly larger images if you'd like a closer look.

Monday, 31 March 2014

let's cook: shortcrust pastry pies

let's cook: pies

This round of our cooks challenge is dedicated to shortcrust pastry pies.

Sweet or savoury, the only requirements were that the pastry had to be made from scratch and that we had to make an effort to decorate the pies.

My mum made an apple pie decorated with cute cat shapes, and I went for a Stargazy pie, decorated with fish heads and tails (and some stars!). Not very pretty, but traditional.

If you're not familiar with a Stargazy pie, here's a nice illustrated story and simple recipe I found a while ago.

My mum and dad were both in charge of judging this time round as they got to sample both pies.

The results: My mum scored 7/10, with points deducted for a soggy bottom, and I got 9/10. Not at all bad!

stargazy pie

I couldn't find one complete recipe for the pie that I wanted to work with, so I ended up combining a few different suggestions. Here are the details if you want to try it out:

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Stargazy pie
(enough to feed 3 hungry mouths)

Ingredients

For the shortcrust pastry:
250g plain flour
A pinch of salt
110g butter (cubed)
60-90ml cold water
+ 1 egg for glazing

For the filling:
4 pilchards, sardines or small herrings (I used herrings!) - Ask the fishmonger to gut and bone the fish, but make sure you keep the heads and tails!
2 rashers streaky bacon
½ an onion
2 hardboiled eggs
1½ tbsp fresh parsley
½ tbsp flour
175ml fish stock
150ml double cream
1 ½ tbsp white wine

stargazy ingredients

Instructions

Make the pastry
Preheat the oven to 190ºC.
Put the flour and salt in a bowl.
Add the butter and rub with your fingertips until it has a breadcrumb texture.
Add the water slowly, until the mixture binds together.
Wrap and chill for 15 minutes.

Once the pasty has cooled, roll out half of it to line the bottom and sides of your pie dish.
Add baking beads and blind bake for 20 minutes.


Make the sauce
Heat the butter in medium saucepan.
Cook the onions and bacon on a medium heat until soft.
While stirring add ½ tbsp flour, the wine and fish stock.
Bring to the boil, and then simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the cream, bring back to the boil, and simmer until the mixture is reduced by half.
Remove from the heat, add in the parsley and chopped egg, season and leave to cool.


Assembly
I layered some of the fish fillets on the bottom of my blind-baked pastry case.
Then I added half the sauce, some more fish, and a final layer of sauce.

Roll out the rest of your pastry to cover the top of the pie.
Position some of the fish heads on top of the pie pointing upwards.
Carefully lay the pastry over the top, the make small slits to allow the herring heads to show their faces.
I made extra slits and slotted the tails in after the pastry was in place.

Use a pastry brush to apply egg around the rim in order to join the lid of the pastry to the base, pressing down lightly as you go.
Glaze the top of the pie with egg, along with any pastry decorations you have chosen to add (I suggest some stars, and the moon!)


Baking
Put the finished pie in the oven for half an hour at 200ºC, or until the top is a nice golden brown colour.
Serve with nice fresh vegetables.

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Yum!

Next time we will be making cheesecakes. I'm looking forward to this one.
heads and tails

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Amsterdam

amsterdam

I'm off to Amsterdam for a few days tomorrow - an incredibly wonderful birthday present from Ben.

I'm looking forward to it very much!

The desk calendar above was a nice gift from Simon, made by the Rifle Paper Co. It is my goal to visit all of the cities illustrated in it. I'm almost halfway - after this week, my tally will be five.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

buttons

new buttons

It's nice to have some time to get some long overdue tasks completed.

Today I had a wander around some charity shops in the sunshine, and then sewed some new buttons onto my old green coat.

Good as new.

Friday, 14 March 2014

new year trip


reykjavik

In January we packed all our thermals and headed off to Iceland for a few days - a perfect way to start the year!

Everywhere you go in Iceland is a treat for the eyes. I wanted to take pictures of absolutely everything. The colours and the landscape are so different from anywhere I've ever been before.

And I'd love to live in one of their sweet houses with a colourful roof. Cosy and calm.

When can I go again?

iceland outside the blue lagoon icelandic mountains geyser iceland9 iceland - geyser hunting reykjavik houses by the frozen lake