Friday, 25 June 2010

Home grown lettuce for tea!

Ok its not exactly a full bowl of salad, but I have just harvested my first mixed lettuce leaves from the hydroponic floating raft system of growing. Things seem to be really growing well now, it will be a while before I have tomatoes but the potatoes are flowering so I don't think they will be too far off now.

The onions are not doing so well, a couple of weeks back when we had a torrential downpour one weekend, the bag they are growing in seemed to get too waterlogged so they have been left to their own devices now to dry out and see if anything is worth salvaging.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

York Eco Business Centre

I went to York this afternoon to collect some printing and whilst in amongst the labyrinth of roads around Clifton Moor I stumbled across the York Eco Business Centre.

It looked rather inviting as there seemed to be a cafe open to the public. I was spitting feathers in the heat so would've loved to stop for a drink and a quick nose round but I was pushed for time. Anyway I  know very little about it so will have to read up on their site. Here is the link if anyone else interested.

Hydroponic windowsill crops - 2

The hydroponic veggies are going well and the lettuce are about ready to start picking leaves.
The interesting thing about the tomatoes is their height. I am growing exactly the same cherry tomatoes in baskets outside and they are quite short and bushy plants and just flowering this week. Whereas the indoor hydroponic plants are taller and thinner with no flower buds yet. I'm thinking it has to be the light and maybe the nutrients making the plants react differently.

It's interesting to have the comparison and will be equally interesting to compare flavour when fruiting.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Summer Solstice sky

Wasn't able to do anything for the solstice evening as I was at a networking meeting last night but this was the vivid coloured sky which greeted me when I came from the meeting.
Actually, it looked much better than the picture!

Last day at college

Well the course is over now (yippeee!) so after a final bit of paperwork, labeling up our exam pieces, it was time to have a quick play.
It's good to do something messy and something which I can't do much of at home and that was felt making. I did a couple of flat pieces and then I learnt something new.
I made a purse where you wrap the layers of fleece around a piece of plastic to form the purse shape. And you carry on building layers until desired thickness is achieved, you cut an opening in the top to remove your piece of plastic and you end up with a seamless purse. Quite good fun and something I'll try again.

Should be able to collect my work in September, by which time should know my result too.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Crochet - ripple pattern

I've seen the ripple pattern in quite a few places recently, books, blogs, magazines etc. and thought how lovely it looks and I'd like a go. Anyway got a book from the library which had many combinations of ripples done into cushion covers and blankets which all looked fab but I struggled to follow the patterns.
I then remembered hearing about the blog Attic 24 and how the lady who writes the blog is a bit of a whiz with the crochet hook so I clicked on and she has some wonderful and easy to follow tutorials.
This is where I finally sussed out how to do a ripple so I am grateful to Attic 24.

I made this small sample and then stitched it into a little drawstring pouch. It's quite a nice, therapeutic pattern to follow once you get going and it seems to work well with any colour combination to give a groovy result.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Turtle trolley bag

I've been waiting a week for a parcel to be delivered and finally it's here, a lovely eco friendly Turtle trolley made from a recycled cement bag, arrived this afternoon.
I wasn't quite ready for one of those tartan old ladies trolleys yet but it's certainly easier wheeling things as I've found with a craft crate thing I have so this was the perfect solution.
It's a really sturdy frame and I think the cement bag looks rather groovy.

There's a great range of other eco bags on Turtles website and you'll see some fab laptop cases also made of cement bags.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Life after textiles!

I think there's only 1 or 2 textile course sessions left. Either way, on Monday I finally handed in all the paper work, samples and finished projects from the exams and I think I can safely say I've seen the back of it. Lets hope all the effort gets me a pass, I just want that bit of paper at the end of it to feel I've achieved something and added another string to my bow.

It's nice to give work my full attention again and this week I've just been finishing a craft order for straw bale Carol who is going on one of her building fact finding trips to Europe in a week. These are some of the brooches which will be going with her as gifts to the organisers.
The peach & green crochet brooch is done with some of the Vintage Palette wool I bought the other day, it's quite nice to use and is a mixture of 70% wool, 30% soybean.

Also hoping to do a couple of design competitions if I can come up with the goods before the deadline which is less than a week away. Better get cracking!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

First sample from the Aeropress

Have christened the Aeropress at elevenses this morning. There are so many variables in creating a good coffee and I now have a few of those under control. Obviously got the Aeropress, purchased a digital timer yesterday, cranked up a new water filter in the Brita and thats pretty much the easy part. The not so controlable bit is the existing grinder I have which is fairly basic in the settings, and the supermarket bought beans which I need to use up before ordering some quality ones from roasteries I've had recommended by Youri.

Anyway the Aeropress was great to use and the first espresso through was not bad at all, maybe a bit sharp which suggests I had ground the beans a tad too fine. 
The Aeropress is a joy to clean out, much easier than a cafetiere. It's an impressive piece of kit for under £25.

Threads of Inspiration exhibition

Yesterday I visited the exhibition by East Yorkshire Embroidery Society at Beverley Art Gallery which was very interesting. It's on until June 26 and features quite a lot of quilting, some felting, embellished paper books, a couple of examples of Sashiko and lots of embroidery. I snook round with my camera to share some of the images with you.

This was followed by a car picnic on Beverley Westward and then a quick whiz round a few charity shops were I found a huge piece of new Ikea fabric, probably about 4 metres which I got for £2 and some vintage tea towels with groovy patterns which I will probably chop up and turn into purses.


Saturday, 12 June 2010

Aeropress has arrived!

How exciting, the postman has just been with a box containing my lovely new Aeropress. This should be the answer to great coffee whilst I am able to afford an espresso machine. I only had time to check the contents are in tact as I'm whizzing off to see the Threads of Inspiration exhibition in Beverley.

Can't wait to get back and try out the new gadget!

Friday, 11 June 2010

New wool purchased

After the trip to Hull college the other day it was hard to drive past Hobbycraft and not pop in for a quick look. I was needing a 3.75mm crochet hook but I can't seem to find one in any of the shops round here so I've got one ordered on Ebay today. I did however purchase some wool which took my fancy, the 2 large balls are for a garment and I couldn't resist the wool called Skye and the 2 vintage balls I thought would make nice flower brooches.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Hull School of Art & Design

Yesterday our textile group went to view the end of year work at Hull college by fashion & textile students.
I got a weird feeling going into that building. I have only once been in there before and it was 27 years ago when I went for an interview for Art Foundation course. I only have bad memories of the place, as during the interview and tour round the building I left my portfolio and school certificates in a room and when I returned to collect my portfolio the certificates had gone. Contacted them a few days after and they hadn't been found so it was mortifying back then to lose the only evidence you have of achieving O levels when you are starting out in life.
Anyway pleased I went to Leeds instead as the Hull place looked as grim today as it did in the 80's.

Our tour round started with garments in the section students were making historical costumes, managed a few snaps and then were told not to take pics as their work had not been assessed yet.

It was quite interesting, I found myself more drawn to the textile, printing & illustration side rather than the garments. I liked the tree with the crows playing seen here, the crows were made from twisted black wire.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Textile Mood Boards

This is the last month of the textile course and I'm really not sure if we will learn anything new now. It just seems to be paper work after the exams and preparing all your samples etc for assessment. I have just produced these 3 mood boards to accompany the pieces of work I did during the exams.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Coffee Coast in Bridlington

In search of a good coffee this morning, after being spoilt rotten yesterday with samples from Youri, I headed for Bridlington. Coffee Coast, on the way towards the Spa, is the best coffee you'll taste in Brid and the owners have also been trained by Youri so they know what they are doing.
I had this lovely flat white and a scone to go with it, very nice indeed.

That was the highlight of the day as it has absolutely chucked it down continuously since elevenses!

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Absolute Coffee - barista course

Went to Absolute Coffee's HQ in Sheffield today for a barista training course run by Absolute's coffee guru, Youri. We started straight in at the deep end with espresso which was a great way to wake you up and enjoy those most intense flavours that only come from an espresso. 
We covered the grinding, dosage, tamping, temperature, time to drip through etc in order to make the perfect cup. The equipment is superb, the most accurate of grinders and a wonderful La Spaziale espresso machine.
Youri did plenty of test cups before letting us loose on his machine and then we tried our hand and eventually got a fairly consistent result.

Swiftly moving on to produce a flat white, which I believe is from New Zealand, Youri showed us the milk steaming process. This is then poured into a double shot of ristretto and the flat smooth milk gives this drink the most velvety texture and was very delicious. I've had one in Costa and it was rubbish compared to this.

Next we did cappuccinos and lattes and the skill here is in the milk preparation. Some shop bought cappuccinos are piled high with froth and often burnt milk so you have to get the milk foamy and glossy rather than loads of bubbles and froth. Make 2 espressos and then your first lot of steamed milk with the foam goes into the cappuccino, the remaining, smoother milk goes into the latte. 
I was delighted when Youri also showed us some latte art to finish off with. This takes practise but I did get better results than the other coffee course I did. See the pics of Youri's bear and rosetta, made it look so easy!

The result of today is I definitely need a new grinder and a machine would be nice too (pricey though, 100's of pounds) although I may have to start with the aeropress gadget (under £30) which gives much better and more consistent results to a cafetiere. 

It has been an amazing day and Youri is a great teacher, to find someone so passionate about what they do is a real joy and learning has been a pleasure. 

Friday, 4 June 2010

Coffee Course in Sheffield

Tomorrow I am indulging my coffee interest a stage further and going on a basic barista training course at the Absolute Coffee roastery in Sheffield. Absolute have just moved into a new building this week and the espresso machines, grinders, filters, aeropress, milk frothers, beans, all sound fantastic in the new setup.

Of course I can see I'm going to want a new grinder and a machine after the event!

Growing bags

It is 2 weeks since the first photo of the growing bags with the shallots, potatoes, beans etc. and here is my latest photo. The second batch of potatoes, front right bag in pic, have really come on and won't be far behind the ones at the back.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Shropshire borders & architecture

I broke with the usual tradition of staying in on a bank holiday weekend (usually to avoid the crazy traffic) and visited somewhere new, or rather a part of the country I hadn't been to since I was about 10. Managed a last minute booking at a Travel Lodge and stayed just outside Hereford. 

A couple of my plans were not successful. I had always wanted to visit Hay on Wye, the book town, but it was the literary festival week and the place was absolutely crowded so a drive through was all I saw of Hay. The other toursity thing on my list was Ironbridge, and on a sunny bank holiday sunday it was heaving and the roads are so narrow it was a case of just wanting to get out as it felt claustrophobic. I did manage a quick photo of the power station at Ironbridge. I know power stations are nasty things but this looked quite striking as the cooling towers were a deep red shade and looked like large terracotta pots against the blue sky.

Just on the edge of Ironbridge was a lovely tranquil place, The Green Wood Centre with a nice wholefood cafe and its a place where you can see traditional wood crafts and attend courses. The photos of the wooden buildings are there. 
I saw some great architecture on this trip, there are some lovely traditional and unspoilt English villages in the Hereforshire & Shropshire hills with the most amazing old barns and farm buildings.

Ludlow was a very clean and picturesque town with quirky mediaeval and georgian buildings down every street, see bottom 3 pictures.

Didn't manage to find any good independent coffee shops over the 3 days and also slipped up and didn't get any cider on my travels. Herefordshire is a big cider producing area and you see lots of apple tree orchards and also a lot of hop growing in the fields. 
Interesting trip, now its back to preparing written material for college!