Friday, 29 July 2011

Started so I'll finish?

I love living in London; it's a beautiful city. I wish I could draw it, but I'm never happy with my attempts. The buildings I see everyday, out of my office windows, are inspiring and frustrating in equal measure as I constantly play with ideas but then decide I'm not happy with them.

Pen sketch

Pen with watercolour

Pencil, distorted perspective

Pen onto a street map fragment

I'm not going to give up though. I guess being at all creative is a process; you don't just decide to make something lovely and - tada! - it's done. So I'm trying to learn to enjoy the getting there, rather than trying to guess where I'll end up.

I've also been playing with fabric flowers, after my workshop at the weekend. These are a lot better for immediate gratification! My weekend-project is a headpiece for my sister, who's going to a wedding next week. Fingers crossed I'll get it finished!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Lettuce Love

Lettuce is kind of boring, isn't it? I mean... I do like salads, but the lettuce is always very much cast in a supporting role. I never eat one and find myself thinking 'what this really needs is more lettuce.'

At the moment I'm alternating my Abel and Cole vegetable boxes so I get mixed fruit and veg one week, and then a salad box the next. But, due to it being in season I guess, this means I keep ending up with lots of lettuce. A lettuce glut, if you will.

So, here are the results of my ponderings on (edible) things you can do with lettuce.

1. Leave it in the fridge 'til it goes brown and soggy. Throw it away and feel guilty.
2. Put it in a green smoothie! It's perfect for this as it doesn't have much flavour but adds lots of water. And you can use the boring middle bit.
3. Make it into a chilled soup. (I've not tried this... cold soup never appeals that much to me.)
4. Barbecue it, apparently!
5. Use the whole leaves as wraps. 

Number five is my current favourite. I've realised I can make a super-quick weekday supper that's actually quite healthy, uses up the lettuce and doesn't taste boring. And you can eat the wraps with your fingers, which saves on that pesky washing up of cutlery.

Obviously, the inside of a wrap can contain whatever takes your fancy. This is just my current default recipe:

Halloumi and Bulgar Wheat Lettuce Wraps

60g bulgar wheat
1 tbsp vegetable stock powder (I use Marigold Boullion
50g halloumi cheese (or use flavoured tofu, to make the recipe vegan?)
1 small onion
1 red pepper
6 large lettuce leaves, rinsed

Serves 1 hungry person

Prepare the bulgar wheat by putting it into a large bowl, stirring the stock powder through the dry wheat, then covering with water. Cover the bowl and leave to stand for about fifteen minutes.

Chop up your onions, pepper and halloumi (I prefer tiny cubes of halloumi and bigger bits of pepper, but obviously up to you!) and stir-fry in a pan until the onion and pepper are softened, and the halloumi is browned.

When the bulgar's ready, stir through the chopped veg and cheese.

Load a few spoonfuls into each lettuce leaf and enjoy!

An interesting lettuce fact... it used to be a fairly popular girls name, although it was usually written Lettice. From Laetitia, I think. It's pretty, isn't it?

In non-lettuce news, I've recently started using pinterest. It's quite addictive... You can see my boards, and follow me, here.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Cupcakes and Craft... in Tooting

I've mentioned before that Tooting is not exactly overwhelmed with exciting things to do and see. However, this weekend was a bit of an exception as the Tooting Tram and Social was hosting a SW Craft Club Summer Pop-Up Event on Sunday and I interrupted my hectic schedule of cutting the grass to go along.

Its delights included workshops in making fabric brooches, mosaics, cupcake icing, and advice on knitting and crochet, interior design and up-cycling old clothes. There was also a swish (a sort of organised clothes swap), courtesy of Swish and Pout, which I'd never done before and was pretty excited about.

Entry was free, with small contributions requested for some of the activities. And the bar was open, which Nick was very pleased about. (He decided he wanted to come, I feel the need to point out, there was no coercion! But he did spend most of the event behind the Sunday papers with a pint...)

I had a go at making a fabric brooch with Tooting-based A Crafty Pint, and was very pleased with the results. It was so easy!

My brooch, and some of the free sweeties!

I also managed to tempt Nick out from behind his paper to come and ice a cupcake with me. There were beautiful, professionally iced, versions on sale, for inspiration:

But Brixton-based Ms Cupcake was so enthusiastic in her tutorials that we had to have a try ourselves:

Ms Cupcake and her amazing hat!

Unfortunately, our attempts left a certain something to be desired... I shall leave you to guess which was mine and which was Nick's...

They still tasted amazing though. And entirely vegan, which I would challenge anyone to have guessed.

The swish was also great fun, and I came away very happy with my little haul.

The Tram is probably one of my favourite Tooting venues (it's where I had my last birthday party) and they're doing crafty workshops throughout the year.

There's also another SW Craft Club event on the 7th of August in Clapham, so I think I'll be sorting out some more wardrobe mistakes to take along and swish.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Infinite Jest and Me: A Love Story

You know when you meet a friend of a friend at a party? And you've heard loads about this person, about how wonderful he is? 

And then you meet him and, actually, he's a bit of an idiot? 

Maybe pretentious? Perhaps a bit arrogant? Hard to relate to and, worst of all, perhaps a smidge disinterested in you? You have a bit of a chat but then wander off to find some whiskey, baffled as to what everyone else sees in him.

But, you know, your paths cross a few more times. And you have to chat to him because he's friends with your friends and you're a nice person. And every now and then you manage to have an interesting conversation, and maybe you start to feel you don't dislike him quite as much?

And then you don't see him for a while and for some reason he keeps popping into your head? So you manage to find out, completely by accident, where he hangs out and you happen to be there one night and you get chatting and, you know, one things leads to another?

So then you're totally in love and it's the best thing that's ever happened and he might still be a bit pretentious and arrogant and whatever, but it totally doesn't matter because he's also witty and smart and sensitive and everything.

And you get married and have lots of only-mildly pretentious children and are mostly and realistically happy for ever more, and end up in the same retirement home eating aniseed balls together. *

You know? Well, that's how I feel about Infinite Jest. As I've said before, it's a beast and it's taken me longer to read than anything else, ever. But I finally finished it and I love it. With a deep, abiding, aniseed ball sort of love. 

The sort of book-love that, when you get to the end (and despite the fact that it's taken months to read) you just want to go and start at the beginning again.

I'm not going to write a review. I don't think I could do it justice in a few words and there are plenty out there on the interwebs already. I'm not even going to recommend it, because I can completely see there are a lot of people out there who wouldn't love it.

But if you think you might want to read it... please do. That's all.

Here it is, finally snugged in with the other books. (I only allow books on to the book cases once they've been read. IJ had to live on the kitchen table, where it glowered at me if I hadn't picked it up recently.)

* This is not based on a true story. Well, not mine anyway. I met my love at a dance class and he thinks aniseed is the flavour of the devil. But still... you know?

Friday, 15 July 2011


Second beautiful wedding of the year was in Toulouse. I don't think I'd ever been to the south of France before, and it really is lovely. The best thing, though, was all the fields of sunflowers. I may have got a bit carried away in taking pictures of them...

I must admit, though, that walking alongside a field of sunflowers all alone without a single human as far as the eye could see, they did start to feel a bit... sinister. 

Like they were watching me. 

Definitely something of a Triffid-y aura about them...

My own sunflowers are still just leaves. I'm going to show them these pictures in an attempt to inspire them to do flowers. Although then I might wake up with their watchful faces peering in my bedroom window... Worrying.

And a few more France shots. Because it wasn't just sunflowers.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Alice and Embroidery

I'm afraid I've been off and about for the last week or so (photographic highlights to follow soon...) hence the lack of updates. 

Just before I set off, I was thrilled to hear that I'd won a giveaway on The Make Lounge's blog and I arrived back in the office this morning to find a copy of Everything Alice waiting for me. It looks like a gorgeous book, and I'm looking forward to a long soak in the bath this evening with it balanced on the edge! (Camping in Devon for a week = proper, hot bath very much required! (I did wash whilst we were way, just not much...))

However, before I start on any Alice-based projects, I wanted to show you my last crafty endeavour. It was for a craft swap on a forum I belong to, and my 'brief' was that the lady liked gerberas and purple. I also knew she'd recently moved house and liked vintage-y styles, so I created a fabric design which I thought she could frame in case the new-house walls were a little bare!

I embroidered the basic design in black cotton onto a piece of plain canvas, then added colour and detail to some of the flowers before backing it onto two squares of purple cotton to act as a soft frame. I intentionally left the edges raw to add to the rough vintage style.