Friday, 30 July 2010

Oven back on & ready to bake!

I've just put the camping stove away as the Aga man came yesterday to service it. It's been 2 weeks and 4 days without any baking or 'proper' food, it's been camping food and salads with the odd micro meal.

Usually after a service it is at its highest temperature although this being an old thing, it's well below what you would achieve on a new range. However it's always good to do jacket potatoes whilst the heat is there so that's my plan for tea.

I've just gone mad and made a recipe I've been licking my lips over on another blog, it's for Peanut Butter Bars and one of my favourite combinations is chocolate & peanut butter in any form. I will post the link to the blog where I found the recipe if you fancy a go.
Mine doesn't quite look like it should as I think my peanut butter glaze is too thick and using chunky peanut butter meant it wouldn't pour so I sort of dragged it over the surface of the chocolate. Still, I'm hopeful it will taste good!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Today is good - I won a competition!

I entered a craft competition in one of the sewing magazines back in May and you had to make a fabric cupcake, donut, gateaux etc. Anyway I have a few of my cupcake pincushions in my craft stock which I was going to enter but in the end I thought I'd make a new one and try to improve on my past attempts. The result was my Smartie bun, a subject I know very well!

Today the 10 winners were announced and and with fingers crossed I saw my name on the list. It's so exciting, I've won a goodie bag which has over £100 worth of craft books & items. I'm trying to contain the excitement as they reckon it could be a few weeks before the prizes are dished out.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Derwent pencils on fabric

A friend told me that you can use Derwent watercolour pencils on fabric, it has to be the Inktense pencils which are particularly heavy with pigment. I've had a bit of a go with the pencils and its pretty good, they don't blend quite as well as on paper and be careful near the edge of your drawing as it can feather beyond your outline.

Overall I'm quite happy with the result and will be able to use this effect for small craft projects. I ironed it to set the pencils but I wouldn't want to use it on anything large scale as I don't think washing is an option.

This afternoon I used one of the fabric drawings and made a pincushion.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Hornsea Nostalgia Day - August 28th

I had a letter through from the Hornsea Pottery Society detailing the forthcoming Hornsea Nostalgia Day to be held at Hornsea Freeport on Sat Aug 28th, 9am - 5pm.

This was the first I'd heard about it but apparently the society are going to work in conjunction with the museum to put on a display of pottery, some rare and some for sale along with people on hand to give talks about the history of the pottery.
Calls are going out to past employees if they want to get involved.

I'll definitely be having a visit, it'll be great to go on site again and find pottery for sale in its old home.

Hydroponics & other crops

Here's the latest update from the windowsill and the garden crops.

Hydroponic lettuce going well and some of the plants looking like lettuce trees! The peppers in the acorn pot have started flowering last week and seem to be performing fine and as expected.
The weird thing is the hydroponic tomatoes which are still getting taller and haven't produced flowers yet. It smells like a tomato when you touch the leaves but I'm starting to think it won't produce tomatoes. Anyway I shall leave it and observe.

The tomatoes outside are doing better and I've got plenty of fruit on them. 
Another surprise was the bean plants, they had started to look a bit limp & yellowy and only just flowering, however when I looked closely I've got beans about 10cm long! It's as if they've popped up over night without me even seeing them start off small. I'm not so worried about the yellowy plant now it has the beans because the beans are yellow pod beans.

The potatoes in the bag are more than ready to harvest I'm sure but due to being without the oven again, it's been off 2 weeks today and waiting for the Aga man to service it, I only have a small camping stove to cook on so want to leave the potatoes until I can cook them properly.

I'll finish with food for free. The cherry tree just outside the garden has a few branches leaning in here so I've managed to get a few cherries before the blackbirds scoff the lot. They are very small and sweet and rather like black grapes in flavour.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Nice coffee from Roasters

Went to Roasters in Scarborough last week with the purpose of trying coffee of the day and purchasing a new variety of beans to try. I'm more or less at the point of stopping buying supermarket coffee beans in favour of sourcing independent suppliers.

Coffee of the day was an El Salvador variety which was pleasant enough, the packet I bought to takeaway was Sumatra Raja Batak Lingtong. I opened it yesterday and have tried it as espresso through the Aeropress and also as a filter and it works nicely in both styles so quite impressed.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

New stock for Gallery 49

This afternoon I delivered a pile of new brooches to Gallery 49, ready for the summer holiday season.

This was also my first chance to see the Hockney exhibition of his etchings of Grimm's Fairy Tales. They have apparently been going out of the door like hot-cakes. They are very unusual, I liked one called A Room Full of Straw.
Some of the prints are signed and the exhibition runs until August 1st.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Driffield Show today but I went to Hornsea

I've not been involved with Driffield show this year. ERA were not having a stand this time so no chance of helping & getting a free ticket. Decided against entering any food or handicrafts as I came to realise last year that it seems to be the same people who win year after year, not that I'm cynical or anything!
I also don't think any of my usual friends who have stalls were attending although a couple of my food producing customers are there and one has been nominated for a farm diversification award, Gold From the Wold (cold pressed rapeseed oil) so I hope they do well.

Instead I went to Hornsea and had some treatment at the dentist, nice eh! It was a bit bleak and gusty first thing as you can see from the photo but this afternoon has turned into a scorcher.
I visited the Lions charity shop and got some fab vintage purple flower fabric (currently in the washer), a groovy Butterick pattern for a tunic, some knitting needles and a couple of mini milk jugs for the cafe I might have one day..... and all for £2.

Hornsea wouldn't be complete without a quick look around Freeport and I got some mishaped Thorntons chocs and this groovy little fob watch. I'm not keen on watches on my wrist, always difficult for working and generally uncomfortable in summer so this fob should do the trick. I used to wear a silver chain fob years ago, this one is much more up to date and the red casing is a lovely rubbery material.

Arrived home and still lots of cars everywhere around the showground so should be a tad chaotic in about an hour when it packs up.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Networking at Calf House Studios

Last night was our final networking event before the summer break and we changed the usual venue and headed off to Calf House Studios where Heather & her resident artists had thrown their studio doors open for this summer social.

It was really interesting having a nosey in the studios of other artists, jewellery makers, sculptors etc. The converted cow sheds make a lovely setting for creative pursuits.

Equally wonderful was the buffet which was completely vegetarian and not just boring stuff like cheese sandwiches & salad. We were treated to stuffed vine leaves, Spanakopita (spinach & feta pie), olives, bean salad, bulgar wheat pastries, roasted  pepper mozarella rocket & tomato tart to name but a few of the tasty treats from Kate's Kitchen.

A great evening was had by all. 
Above is an illustration I did of Calf House Studios when I was designing their logo.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Bird brooches in progress

This week I'm making a few of my felt bird brooches as I have a couple of commissions in. I will be taking the spare ones and some flower brooches to Gallery 49 in Brid.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Sledmere project

Today a group of ERA members who are getting involved with an art project at Sledmere House met up for an informal meeting and tour of the house. My camera decided not to work so I had to take some rubbish quality pictures on my phone.
Fortunately we have been allowed to go back at our leisure to take more snaps if needed so I will look forward to that.

I hadn't been around the house before so found it very interesting and we did get in some places the public don't normally see.
Oddly enough pigs and dogs kept popping up in various rooms.

Have no ideas yet as to what sort of artwork I will produce for the exhibition next year.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Wales 4 - Aberaeron's colourful buildings

Aberaeron is a small seaside / fishing town in Ceredigion. I first got a look at it on route to Fishguard and I was struck by the wonderful coloured Regency style buildings. Seeing so much colour makes the world feel a better place, at least that's my theory!
It also reminded me of the colourful buildings I have seen in southern Ireland and in particular Dingle and Kenmare.

On the way back home I had to stop off and take as many photos as I could. I think I'll have to capture it in some artwork when I get time.

Also you might just be able to see on the last picture, the sea was a beautiful shade of turquoise.

Wales 3 - architecture

This post shows some of the interesting buildings I came across during my exploration of south west Wales. I'll start with the holiday cottage, a lovely converted barn where you'll see solar panels on the second photo. It was light, bright and contemporary inside.

Not far from the cottage is the lighthouse at Strumble Head and you can get on part of the coastal path which is great walking in terms of views and not too challenging under foot.

Found an interesting, sustainable building at the Welsh Wildlife Centre, where I previously mentioned the roof top cafe under food post.

Going way back in time we next have the magnificent St. Davids cathedral. The local stone has almost a mauvey colour to it and the building was so huge I could hardly get back far enough to get it all in one shot. Very impressive from what I saw outside but didn't go inside as it was fairly late in the day.

I don't normally show people photos but this one of my friends is really to show Misty the dog on our walk around the ruins of Ogmore Castle.

My friends also took me to the tiny hamlet of Merthyr Mawr with all its picturesque thatched cottages. It seemed more reminiscent of Devon than south Wales but it was very pretty and like stepping back through time.

In the same vicinity was Ewenny Priory, seen looking very dramatic here.

The final picture on this post is the reserve and wardens house on Skomer Island. I went on a wildlife cruise and saw the puffins, seals and some porpoises. The island will only allow 250 people per day to land and I was unable to do that so settled for the cruise around the island. It was very packed on the boat and not easy for taking photos with so many heads in the way looking at the puffins.

My most colourful architectural posts will follow!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Wales - a quick mention of ice cream

I have been known to enjoy the odd helping of ice cream and last year I found online a place called Really Welsh which had exciting sounding ice cream flavours like Swirley Bassey. Anyway try as I might I couldn't find any to sample in the area I visited.

I did however enjoy this little pot of turkish delight ice cream, a flavour I haven't tried as an ice and it was very delicious. Just the right amount of rose flavouring and not sickly or heavily coloured pink.

Wales 2 - coffee shops & food

It seems a good idea to mention where I had some nice coffee and nibbles incase anyone reading out there is going to visit south west Wales.

Where do I start, well it would have to be with the best coffee I had and that was in Narberth. The Puffin coffee shop is within The Narberth Gallery in the Market Square. It is run by a most friendly lady called Annie, herself an artist too. She is quite new to the coffee shop venture and is passionate about good coffee and baking delicious cakes. She set about making me a crepe with orange & vanilla ice cream whilst I sampled an Americano. I followed the crepe with an espresso and it was all quite delicious. Well worth a visit and the gallery has some interesting rooms to look in.

Annies artwork can be seen on her web link below:

Another notable espresso I had was in the wonderful coffee and wool shop called Janes in Fishguard, didn't manage a picture as I drunk it too quickly!

One very unpleasant coffee I had was in St. Davids. I had high expectations as the place was called Pebbles Yard Gallery & Espresso Bar. Bound to find a good espresso here I thought but sadly not, my Americano was like bad Nescafe and the espresso was no better. Avoid at all cost, I left most of the Americano and I saw a couple of other drinks had been left on tables so maybe it wasn't just me being picky. I don't think this place should use the word Espresso in its name!

In Cardigan I found quite a nice Italian / Welsh deli and whilst the cappuccino I had was a reasonable strength, it wasn't grind on demand with the beans so not sure how long the coffee had been sat there. The complementary biscuit though was very nice.

The next place on my list is Hive on the Quay in the fishing village of Aberaeron. The first thing to get me excited when I walked in was their espresso machine, a bright red La Spaziale which is what I want in the small version for home. The beans were ground on demand, good sign, and I had a very nice macchiato and a tasty piece of dark choc cake.
This place is also known for its speciality honey ice cream with honey from a farm up the road but I was too stuffed with the cake to have ice cream.

Bought some beans in Cardigan indoor market from a stall called Bean & Gone and they're not too bad at all.


Quite a good choice of veggie food was to be found at The Glasshouse Cafe at the Welsh Wildlife Centre in Cilgerran. The cafe is upstairs and tree top level in a groovy sustainable building, which I'll show externally in my architectural post.
I had the Middle Eastern platter which had lots of homemade dips, hoummus, spicy orange pate and a good selection of salads and couscous.
Its a great view out from this place and you can walk off your food afterwards as its part of the Teifi marshes nature reserve.

The final mention, and I've been to this place before which is why it got a second visit. The Quarry veggie cafe in Machynlleth, which is run by the CAT Centre. Good wholesome veggie food is guaranteed and I notice they had a choice of about 5 different flavoured veggie burgers. On this occasion I had veggie lasagne which came with a lovely selection of salads. The only problem with the place, its not huge and gets very busy so didn't manage lunch til it quietened at about 2pm.
Strangely enough, the food I've had at the CAT Centre itself has not been as good as the Quarry in town.

I think that about sums up my coffee and foodie experiences in Wales. But final mention goes to the holiday cottage where I stayed. The owners can provide you with their own organic eggs and organise a fruit & veg box. Their eggs were very delicious and the fruit & veg come from Pembrokeshire Produce Direct and it was both very tasty and plentiful for a £10 box.