Sunday, 1 May 2016

April Favourites...

 It felt a bit like a "bleah" month, but I seem to have found a few cards I like well enough to count as favourites.

The one with the "apple blossom" (best stamp I had" and clock face is an interpretation of the Bulmers cider ads with the orchards and "Nothing added but time" slogan. And the garden bench was the first time trying out a die which I got with an gift cert at Christmas. I usually mostly buy books because they don't attract extra tax and duties - and are no hardship to buy anyway, but I treated myself to this too. And the next two were playing with some fun birthday gifts!!

Friday, 22 April 2016


For some reason, I was sure I had started my blog in May. But recently I looked back, and it was 22nd April 2009. So today is my blogiversary - who knew I'd still be going 8 years later.
Yesterday was my birthday - so I took a memory trip back to two years ago when we were in Giverny and I never got round to editing and sharing photos from that day. My sister and aunt got a slideshow of ALL the photos; the overload is why I never got to do anything about them.

Here's a quick pick. It was a lovely day - Easter was late, so the gardens opened to the public a little earlier than usual and we were able to go on our last day in Paris. It changed the whole feel of the trip from just a city break to a holiday, because we got the train to Giverny and then we were right out in the countryside. When we arrived, the gardens were full, because there was a big group from a cruise ship. We walked around the gardens once in the throng, then sat on a bench at the back of the water garden for about half an hour enjoying the peace (and a cuckoo calling in the distance), and then when we walked around the gardens again, they were practically empty.

Now I think I want to make a card with my dogwood die!

Wednesday, 13 April 2016


I took a better look at the steeple on the old church/new distillery. It's glass - it's going to be beautiful!

Here's the very squat steeple of the Catholic St. James' church across the road (where you can get your Camino passport). I like the way the glass echoes the colour of the what I presume is copper encrusted with verdigris.

And Spring is on the way - the sweet chestnut inside the gate in work is greening up all of a sudden.

I was trying to take a photo of a couple of grey wagtails, but didn't get the camera out of my bag in time - so all I have is the structure of the bridge.

And some more blue....

Monday, 4 April 2016

On the way to work...

Not today, but last Thursday which was beautifully sunny if still on the cold side.

The old de-consecrated Anglican church on St. James' Street was a lighting showroom when I first started working here, and then it went bust during the recession. It's now being converted into a micro-distillery  - and getting a very fine steeple in the process; it hasn't had one since 1948 when it was apparently blown down.

Friday, 1 April 2016

March Favourites...

This month's header is a photo of a wren taken in St. Catherine's Park last April.

And some favourite cards from March:

I like this one because my mother called me after Sabrina in Milton's poem "Comus". So this was probably the first piece of poetry that I learned by heart. And I have a lovely little S-shaped enamel mermaid pin that was my grandmother's.

Sabrina fair,
    Listen where thou art sitting
  Under the glassy, cool, translucent wave,
    In twisted braids of lilies knitting
  The loose train of thy amber-dropping hair:

I feel this bird looks as if he has seen something which has astonished him - so I am thinking of adding a snail or something in the bottom right corner.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Summer Sampler

I  meant to edit a few photos from yesterday - but it didn't happen.
Instead, here's my Easter weekend output. I felt a bit bleah and C said that making something would help. I bought the frame at Christmas after making a winter-themed one as a gift.
This one was not intended to be so seaside-oriented. I had a butterfly and another flower on my desk to use. But after creating 9 panels and reviewing them with C, he wasn't sure about the bunny, and I wasn't sure about the flip-flops so we kept both those and just ditched the one we were unanimous about - Tree for All Seasons.  Playing around with layouts, it seemed that putting the only unembellished, totally flat square in the centre would work best, and that led to adding in another seaside one (the pelican) to have a  beach row above and a beach row below.
If I can replicate or even come near a similar green Brusho background, I'd like to make a card with red flowers against that vivid green.

Monday, 28 March 2016


I needed to make bread for C's lunches this week...
I wanted to make doughnuts because I put fresh oil in the deep-fat fryer yesterday and I usually take that as a chance to make them...

So I made both.

We slept too late this holiday Monday for me to make the doughnuts for morning coffee and I was going to leave them. The bread baked while we had lunch, and then C contacted the friend he was hoping to visit this afternoon and found it didn't I started the doughnuts and we had them for afternoon coffee. Knowing C, he's quite likely to broach the bread and have a slice or two later on, though.

My current recipe uses the two flours shown - 4/5 white to 1/5 malted. Even when used on its own, the malted isn't what I would call very malty (but it has nice flakes of wholegrain in it), so I also add a big tablespoon full of barley malt extract, and it's making a very nice loaf.

I'm afraid to admit that out of a batch of 8 doughnuts there are only 2 left because C thinks they are nicest fresh from frying. (I'm not averse to leftovers warmed in the microwave for breakfast). The only place I've ever had doughnuts that match homemade ones is from the doughnut sellers on the beaches in Crete and Corfu - but there's no jam in those ones. And possibly we might have had some pretty good ones in Paris too.

My doughnut recipe is an old one which pre-dates the easy availability of instant yeast, meaning no mental debate over how much to use. We recently bought some flour advertised as "French Baguette Flour", but the recipe on the back of the package is less than useless as it says 2 tbslp of yeast - fresh, instant, or active dried. Only one of those is going to be right...

50 ml boiling water, 100ml cold water, teaspoon of sugar 1 tblsp active dried yeast.

400g strong white flour, 100 malted flour
75 ml boiling water with 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tblsp barley malt extract stirred into it.
125 ml milk
1 tblsp oil - or an egg.

After the yeast has been activated, mix everything together and knead till smooth and elastic. Cover and allow to rise till doubled.
Shape, place in a greased tin and leave to rise till doubled.
Bake in a hot oven for about half an hour.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

An Easter Song

This lovely bird stamp was a birthday gift from Lorraine - I blush to admit it was two years ago, almost. I did stamp and colour it quite soon after, but it has sat on my desk for a shamefully long time - in fact, I was relieved to discover it was still in pristine condition and ready to use when I decided to fancy up a cheap euro-shop frame for a challenge to use book pages. I need to straighten it slightly in the frame -the sentiment is stamped to be level with the music staves under it!

May you have a song in your heart this Easter, even if there is no reason for it.

(uploaded last year HERE with some work-in-progress photos)

Thursday, 24 March 2016

A Miscecllany

With apologies to Wilbur in Charlotte's Web - "I can walk, I can walk, I can actually, factually walk...".
Of course these macarons can neither talk nor walk - but it was my second attempt (C has decided that they are something I "need" to learn how to make - I'm not quite sure why), and while the first ones were pretty stodgy and heavy, these ones did develop the requisite "feet". The rather lurid colour of the filling is entirely natural - sieved raspberries. I used an unexpected day off on Tuesday to make them.

Sometimes, on the way home from work, I walk past a small independent off-licence. If I've just missed my bus, I'd usually rather walk a few stops in either direction, rather than just stand waiting. Wednesday was a case in point - and I liked the sign on the back of this van making a delivery.

And today I took advantage of another unexpected day off to go back to the optician and downgrade my glasses to non-reactive lenses - and get tinted lenses for driving in my last frames. While waiting for them, I met and friend and we went for a walk with her dog in the nearby park. Round us the swans mostly nest on the canal banks - this nest reminded me of the ones I have seen moorhens build.