Friday, 30 September 2011

Crafty Photo Scavenger Hunt: September

Despite the weather trying to fool us all into thinking it's still mid-summer, my calendar's assuring me it is in fact the end of September and so time for another Crafty Photo Scavenger Hunt post.

I should probably mention that I've got a new app for my phone (Vignette for Android, if anyone's interested) so, in the usual obsessed-with-a-new-toy way, all this months photos have been taken with that...


This is the straw fox currently perched on top of the Hayward Gallery on the South Bank. Inspiring because it's strange and wonderful and I love the idea that someone must have said 'let's put a big straw fox on the Hayward!' and someone else said 'what a fabulous idea! Get to it!' (Rather than 'why?')

Something I Made

The screen for my screen print. Not the wood/screen part, I bought that, but drawing the design on with drawing fluid and then applying the screen filler was a new experience and I'm pretty proud that I managed it and it worked! (At my screen printing workshop we used photo emulsion - better results but needs a lot more equipment!)

Motifs: Florals

Can't get more floral than actual flowers. (Which Nick bought me for No Reason. Yes, sickening, I know.)


These are some of my vintage frocks and hats. Most of which get worn on a regular basis. 

Craft on the Go

A little confession: I have an idea for this, but I won't be able to take it 'til tomorrow. So I will be back to update, but in the interim...

... have some retro underwear to be a place-holder. (Taken at the Steam Fair, oddly enough!)


As promised, back to update the last picture. I like the underwear too much to delete it though, so it's now an added extra...

My patchwork (and the current issue of Oh Comely) on the train home from Cardiff this weekend.

Go see Kirsty for all the other pictures from this month.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Kitchen table screen printing...

...makes a big mess of your kitchen (possibly not ideal if you're supposed to be selling your flat...)

ruins your manicure...

and makes you look at things in a different way. Wine rack now = drying rack!

I feel like I'm making progress though, and have managed this print of my thistles design.

It's not perfect, and I think I need to get a screen with a finer mesh to get rid of the slightly 'pixelated' look. But I'm pretty pleased that I've managed it all by hand, and that I got three colours in the right places on the same print!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Far and few: the land where the jumble lives...

My grandmother is unhealthy obsessed with jumble sales; she always has been. She is incapable of walking past one and, for years, most of our Christmas presents have been 'sourced' from them.

Apparently I'm turning into my grandmother, then, because Sunday saw me excitedly heading down to the Tram in Tooting for the South West Jumble.

Thankfully, rather than weak lemon squash and grandma-chic, being held in a pub meant this jumble sale also offered the chance to make use of the bar, rather more fashion-conscious stall-holders, and a good selection of handmade odds and ends as well. 

I bought a vintage frock. It's a little bit House on the Prairie, but I'm embracing that...

Friday, 23 September 2011

Weekword: Witty

This week's word came from Junebug and she chose 'witty'.

I struggled a bit with this, so all I can offer is the thing that keeps popping into my head when I try to think about it:

Clearly I've read too much Harry Potter...

In other vaguely creative news, following lots of scribbling and a bit of pinterest inspiration, I've finally got my thistles sorted.

Next step: kitchen table screen printing experiments!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Cabbages and Kings

First: Purple carrots. They're orange on the inside, but purple on the outside. 

Apparently orange is a mutation from an original carrot-hue, so these are perfectly natural and normal rather than the result of some sort of terrifying aubergine/carrot hybrid.

They taste just like orange ones. They would also be very good as Hallowe'en snacks.

Second: Cabbage parcels.

I made stuffed vine leaves once, ages ago, for a Greek party. They tasted amazing, but took forever and a faff to make. These are much easier for very similar results.

One nice big cabbage
One onion, chopped
About a cup of couscous
Vegetable stock 
Halloumi, cut into 1cm chunks
Tin of tomatoes

Boil the kettle.

Peel off the outer leaves of your cabbage and cut a v into the bottom to remove the thick white bit. Put them in a pan with some of the boiling water until they soften, about ten minutes. 

Put the couscous into a large bow and stir a heaped teaspoon of stock powder (about half a cube?) through. Add the rest of the hot water and cover for at least five minutes, until it's soft.

Pop the halloumi and onion in to a frying pan and sizzle until the onion's soft and the halloumi starts to brown.

Add the tomatoes to a saucepan and add half the onion. Leave to simmer 'til you want it (with any other tomato sauce ingredients you like: sugar, carrots, Worcestershire sauce, cinnamon?)

Stir the rest of the halloumi and onion into the couscous.

Lay a cabbage leaf down on the worktop and put tablespoonful (depending on the size of your cabbage, of course) just above where you cut the bottom. Roll up into a parcel, tucking the sides in as you go.

Place the cabbage parcels join-down into a casserole dish and keep going 'til you run out of leaves and couscous.

Pour the tomato sauce over the top and pop in the oven for ten minutes or so, just to make sure it's all hot through.

Obviously, this recipe is endlessly adaptable - change the couscous for another grain, add more veg to the filling, use meat instead of halloumi, add raisins for a more Moroccan flavour?

(There are no kings in this post. Apologies to anyone who feels cheated.)

Monday, 19 September 2011

Go West...

Just back from a weekend in Aberystwyth with some friends. Lots of fun, not much sleep. Pictures instead of words today.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Wonder, a weekword.

Courtesy of Sally at Sow and Sew, I've decide to join in with the Weekword-ers. The premise is simple... each week someone chooses a word and everyone then writes a post inspired by it.

This week's word is 'Wonder'.

I spent a while thinking about things that fill me with wonder, but couldn't think of anything interesting or unusual to say about them. Clearly having a bit of a dreary week...

So instead, I'm afraid, you're just going to get a brief insight into my mind. These are some of the things I wonder...

I wonder why, when all the rest look like this:

... this chap is a squid?

I wonder what's happened to my pirate outfit, as it's definitely not in the (now pleasantly scented) dressing up box?

And I wonder if the fact that we take so many pictures these days means they won't be as special and treasured when we are old?

My parents, before they were married.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Bailey's Chocolate Not-Quite Cheesecake. And a fox.

Tofu is a strange beast. It's taking me a while to get it figured out, and I can quite understand why some people don't like it. It's wibbly and doesn't taste of much.

However, due to the marvel that is pinterest I recently discovered this recipe for dairy-free chocolate pie that uses tofu in the filling. I duly made it and fed it to Nick without telling him what was in it (but obviously letting him know there was a mysterious ingredient and staring at him like I was an insane person whilst he ate it). Now, bearing in mind he's a man who would sooner chop off one of my legs than give up cream, we can be safely assured that the fact that he liked it is a resounding vote of confidence for its deliciousness.

It was, in fact, so delicious that I failed to take a photo of it before it all got eaten.

The idea of tofu to make a moussey-creamy filling stuck with me. Firm silken tofu really doesn't have much flavour of its own, so happily ends up tasting like whatever you add to it.

Like Bailey's.

Obviously, I have now completely defeated the dairy-free point of this sort of dessert. But never mind. Bailey's Chocolate Not-Quite Cheesecakes (a catchy name, I'm sure you'll agree) are also delicious.

It was also super-easy to make and only needs a couple of ingredients. What's not to like? I'm not going to write up a proper recipe because I think it'll depend entirely on what size pot you're making it in, and the consistency you prefer, but here's vaguely what I did...

(Incidentally, I used the ramekins you get with Gu puddings and then don't want to throw away 'cause it seems like a waste. These quantities will fill two.)

- Three chocolate digestive biscuits smashed into crumbs and put into a pan until the chocolate melts. Divide between ramekins and squish down so it goes nice and firm. Pop into the fridge to chill.

- About 150g firm silken tofu into a food processor and whizzed until it's smooth. Add just enough honey (less than a tbsp) so it's sweet and then start adding your Bailey's. You don't need much, and you don't want it to go too runny, so just add a little bit at a time 'til it's a double-cream sort of consistency.

- Pour into ramekins and put back into the fridge to chill through.

- Sprinkle with a bit more smashed biscuit if that takes your fancy. Consume.

I reckon this comes in at about 250 calories per pot which, compared to the Gu chocolate and vanilla cheesecakes at about 430, seems a pretty good exchange. And you made these yourself. And they cost less. 

(And if you make too much you have a spare one in the fridge to eat the next day 'to give you energy to go dancing'.)

Next I'm going to invent a lemon version. Oh yes.

Other news: I have a fancy dress box. For a while it lived in my mother's garage/outhouse/shed/thing and, whilst there, a fox did a wee on it. 

Very distressing.

For some reason, I decided this weekend was the time to put all the fancy dress through the wash. Despite the fact that my flat's for sale and this endeavour means that the house a) smells of fusty clothes and fox wee and b) is festooned with drying fancy dress outfits. 

And it looks like my washing line is attempting an am-dram production of Wicked...

I'm going to fashion Vince some wings so he can be a flying monkey. He's very excited.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

My favourite poem...

is this one.

To His Coy Mistress
Andrew Marvell

Had we but world enough, and time
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our our long love's day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love would grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow;
An hundred years would go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.

But at my back I always hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near:
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found;
Nor, in thy marble vaults, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long preserved virginity.
And your quaint honour turned to dust,
And into ashes all my lust.
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.

Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires, 
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapped power.
Let us roll all our strength, and all
Our sweetness, up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Through the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.


- if I'm feeling overwhelmed (or cynical...) I like that people have always always tried to sweet talk others into bed. The details of the world might change, but the important bits tend to stay the same;
- if I'm feeling romantic, the descriptions of how he wants to love and adore her for the rest of time are delicious;
- however I feel, being reminded to seize the day is always welcome. The last two lines are my favourite... we can't stop time, but we can make sure we get the very best out of it.

Relevant pages from my sketchbook:

Carpe diem, boys and girls.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Sadness and Sofas

My feelings about this week are best communicated by my three (?) year old self:


I had a lurgy. I've still got a bit of it, but it's mostly gone

(I also love this picture. I'm not sure which of my parents took it, but strong work in managing to chop off both the top of my head and all of the cats'. I have a feeling I wore that expression quite a lot as a child, so no great achievement in capturing that, but really... they seem to have dressed me in a cushion cover. I can't be blamed for looking glum.)

I have therefore done nothing creative and seen nothing interesting. Apart from lots of House. (Which, incidentally, is probably not the best thing to watch when you're feeling ill.) And lots of sitting on the sofa.

It looks like this. FYI.

But obviously messier.

Thankfully, I recovered enough to come into work today. This is a good thing, because otherwise I could get so bored I'd start building forts out of all the cat paraphernalia I seem to have to purchase every month.

Except I already did that.

Ungrateful cat didn't appreciate it.

Monday, 5 September 2011

A Rural Interlude

Busy weekend! I managed my 60 miles through the countryside in a respectable four hours and fifteen and the horribly early start didn't kill me.

For some reason, though, we decided to get up the same time on Sunday to drive, through the torrential rain, down to Dorset for the death throes of the Great Dorset Steam Fair. I spent a lot of my childhood standing in muddy fields, huddled near hulking steam engines for warmth, wiping coal smuts off my cheeks and longing to go home... As with so many things though, it all seemed a lot more appealing having not been for a few years. It also offered a rare opportunity to see my father in his natural habitat, so off we went.

Thankfully, the rain stopped just as we got there and a comparatively lovely time was had by all. 

Not quite raining...

I love the coffee-and-cream look of freshly ploughed mud...

Paper music being fed through a showman's organ.
(There's no way to write that without it sounding a bit obscene...)

My sunflowers have also managed flowers! Finally! There's one that's taller than me, but he's proved rather tricky to photograph.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Cycling and Scribbling

Just a quick whizz of a post today because I'm off on a 100km cycle ride tomorrow (for the Alzheimers Society, donations welcome...) and should really be writing a list of what I need to remember. I have to leave really early in the morning and am quite capable of forgetting my actual bike if I have to get up when it's dark...

This week I have been thinking about lettering. It started when I packed up one of my prints to send to mother (I don't think you ever grow out of sending things to your mother, probably to stick on the fridge...) and, having a bit of spare time on my hands and the memory that she complained she only gets boring bills, I prettied up the envelope.

I quite liked it, so having been playing with similar ideas in my notebook. I'm thinking they could eventually turn into quite pleasing screen prints. (When I get better at drawing thistles...)

Special prize to anyone who can spot the lyric...

Happy Weekend everyone!