Saturday, 4 April 2020

Feeling Blue?

I walked over to the local post-box yesterday to mail a few cards. There's a little cluster of trees in the green area, and I spotted these Spring (and other) blues nestling in amongst them.  Actually, I'm kicking myself for not having stocked up on gloves when I knew we were nearly out a month ago. I'm not fussed about wearing them for protection now, but I regularly use them for messy techniques, any time I'm using Tack it Over and Over glue, and jobs like changing the filter in the cooker extractor hood (needs doing) and taking bottles to the recycling. And C usually has a couple in his jacket pocket in case the chain comes off the bicycle.

The mixed media challenge on SCS yesterday was a faux blue-print. I took the blue literally (something I have never done with my actual blue-print style stamps. I hated covering up most of my background, but went ahead and did it anyway. 

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Warm off the needles, recipe time

C took this photo - so it's not the best, but it's better than the one I took of the tunic laid on the floor. Sorry -  I'm not looking my best  either, it was housework day, I'm pretty tired at the moment and the sun was shining right into my eyes. 

I had bought some lovely undyed natural Blue-Faced Leicester yarn  (made by the West Yorkshire Spinners Ltd) in a closing-down sale last year, and the time had come to use it. Each hank came with its own  numbered certificate of authenticity.  Now that I think about it, when I worked in Yorkshire over thirty years ago I took a trip to the Dales to visit some relatives and I remember seeing Jacob's sheep in various shades of brown. I decided to buy a pattern produced specifically for the brand of wool and it turned out well - though I didn't read it properly and my back is patterned the same as the front, while it was meant to be plain. I had plenty of wool, not a problem.

Recipe time: when I was at the greengrocer's last weekend, there were some lovely beef tomatoes and I thought they looked really nice. When I got home, in spite of the fact that it must be over  20 years since I last made this recipe, I knew exactly where to look - in Rose Elliot's The Supreme Vegetarian Cookbook. And they were very nice. 

Tomatoes with spicy stuffing:

4 large beef tomatoes
4 tblsp oil
1 large onion, chopped
450g / 1lb potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4" / 5mm dice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tblsp roughly chopped coriander/cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Cut off and reserve the tops of the tomatoes. Scoop out the pulp (I missed my old curved serrated grapefruit knife for this, but I managed). Discard any woody bits and roughly chop the rest. Season with salt and pepper, and put in the base of a dish the right size to take all four tomatoes.

For the stuffing, fry the chopped onion in the oil over a medium to low heat till soft but not coloured. Add the potato and garlic and cook for another ten minutes. Add the spices and coriander/cilantro. Cook for another 5 minutes, or till the potatoes are fully tender. Season as required with salt and pepper.
Use this to fill the reserved tomatoes, and cover them with their lids. Place over the chopped pulp in the dish.
Bake for about 20 minutes at 200°C/400°F, till the tomatoes are just tender. I cooked some spicy yellow rice to serve with ours.

I forgot to change the blog header over yesterday. It's some New Zealand Flax, growing along the seafront in Greystones. 

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

March Favourites

March was a month with not a lot of creativity due to work  being very busy - but I really liked a lot of what I did make. So here they are. Lorraine, you gave me the forsythia die. It's one that really needs to be hand-delivered or go in a parcel, but I always enjoy pulling it out and using it.

And with C working from home, I made jam doughnuts for morning coffee on one of my days off last week, since I had just put fresh oil in the deep fat fryer.  I am ashamed to say we ate six of them with our coffee. I was tempted to try them with marmalade, having just made the nicest marmalade I've produced in several years the day before, but I stuck with raspberry jam.

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Along the canal

We took a walk this morning down to the chemist to stock up on basics, and came back along the canal. It was much more sheltered walking back, but unfortunately just as I was trying to take photos of the buds in trees the wind picked up even there, and they are blurred. No such problems with one of the houseboats tied up along the bank. It was the painted bit on the roof that caught my eye - I thought maybe it was a chimney and even as we walked I wondered how the decorative paint could withstand the heat; looking at the photo I see it's not a chimney at all. Recently when I was in the off-licence I got chatting to the guy serving me - he was telling me that he and his partner lived in a houseboat moored at the next lock upstream from our one. Like me, he was a reader, but with very limited space he had transferred a large part of his library to Kindle.

I really enjoyed the felted penguins I made at Christmas (thanks, Di), so when ALDI had some kits on offer a couple of months ago, C and I drove over to the nearest store and I bought most of them.  I think I passed on the flamingos, the legs were very peculiar looking. The kits are harder than the penguins in that there's no polystyrene form to base them round, they're entirely felt. And the instructions are minimalist, to say the least. I had started the koala at the time, and got no further than the body. It's been on my bedside table ever since, and I decided it was time to finish it off before I lost not only the instructions but anything else.  I'm quite pleased with him, though I think he could do with claws. 

He's sitting on one of a pair of socks I'm currently knitting. I've just finished a tunic which I also need to take a photo of - but I think I might have to model it to show it off properly as the photo I took flat on the ground doesn't look great...

Adding a card I finished off last night, using one of the images I stamped with milk for the technique challenge on SCS. It took a bit of experimenting, in the end I had the iron turned up as high as I could, and ironed it for longer than I thought I should. It was fascinating watching the images develop from being invisible. It brought back memories of standing in the darkroom beside my dad, watching him develop and print photos. Let's dream of a better tomorrow while we go through this time. 

Saturday, 21 March 2020

A Mixed Bag

Inspired by Lorraine, I finally tried a paint pour.  I'd had the shot glasses on my desk since before Christmas, but never made the time to go any further. When I unexpectedly had Monday off work, it seemed like a good time to try - although I hadn't registered her inclusion of popsicle sticks in the list of helpful items. I took a quick outing on Sunday morning to buy some.  I'd bought some Deco Art pouring medium on the Saturday earlier in March when I visited my sister.

Since I did this downstairs, I just picked three colours of paint plus white to bring down,  and restricted myself to those. The first attempt was on a small (ACT size, pretty much) canvas - the one on the left-  and the paint was definitely too thick, So I thinned it down and tried again, using another canvas and some Grafix white craft plastic, since a magazine article I had read called for using Yupo. These pieces (6" square) took about twice as long to dry as the canvases. Now I need to figure out how to use them...

 On Thursday when I left for work I took my camera, and as the buses are positively flying in town these days, barely stopping at all, I had time to walk down the river to Heuston railway station where I snapped this cormorant in full breeding plumage, sitting on the wall opposite the station.

The following morning I didn't bring my camera as I knew I would be doing some shopping on the way home. It was so still, so I snapped this reflection in the river as I walked down. I saw a cormorant flying along - from the white markings, it could well have been the male in the above photograph. And I stopped to enjoy the froth of cherry blossom running along the tram platform and thought that even with all that is going on right now, it was good to be alive.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Spring Signs

Just as well we have never been much into celebrating St. Patrick's Day - it looks as if everything is off everywhere due to the corona virus.

This cancellation was for a different reason, though...the Liffey cruise.

For my St. Patrick's Day photo this year, I have the Civic Offices on Wood Quay, with the green, white and orange flags which are up all along the river.  Towards the centre you can see the sculpture outside it, which reperesents the prow of a Viking ship. When I was still in school, they were just starting work on the civic offices, and had discovered an important Viking site. Work was delayed, and I was one of the many who went in on a school trip to be shown around the dig. 

Some Spring colour - and texture. I always love the unexpected surprise of cowslips in an urban setting.  Further along the road the daffodils were interspersed with tulips, crocuses and a little blue flower which looks like an anemone, but I'm not sure what it's called. 

Stay safe, everyone. 

Sunday, 1 March 2020

February Favourites

February was not just a short month, it was a busy and not very productive one - so I didn't find very many favourite cards. I did enjoying playing with alcohol inks on the Ranger brushed silver card, though...and the centre stage tutorial on Splitcoast was perfect for Mr. Toad.

This month's header photo is from Farmleigh, last March. Not sure what I will have from February for next year. I took my camera when we went for a walk along the canal this morning, but it was so muddy that it required pretty full attention on the path for much of the walk. Still, it was lovely to be out with a blue sky and sunshine before Storm Jorge blew in. 

Saturday, 1 February 2020

January Favourites

A slow month, it felt like, but I was able to pick a few favourite cards. I really enjoyed making the kitchen bench card for my sister, to accompany her birthday gift of a recipe book. I included a note about tucking the flap through the slot - not taking anything for granted since C missed out on carefully letter flaps and slots A & B the year he took his unopened birthday card to Portugal. She laughed and said that when she saw the gingerbread men hanging on the wall, she knew that they must end up on a counter...
The little rat might be my favourite of them all. The stamp is from Katzelkraft and I love the different expressions they all have - but it's hard to know who to give a card with a rat on it to! So I asked C to give me the stamps for my birthday - that way, they don't need to earn their keep, I can just enjoy them.

In my November favourites I shared a card inspired by the window display in a florist near work. Here are two of their more recent windows. The P& T on the letter box is the old Irish script, coming from The Department of Posts & Telegraphs - the original government communications department, prior to becoming "An Post" in 1984, at which stage the "telegraph" part became Telecom Eireann. 

This gown, unlike the pine bough one, doesn't inspire me to make a card, but the combination of the soft feathery wings and very crisp metallic tissue-like fabrics was nice.

The blog header this month is a photograph of reflections in the Liffey, taken on the way to work one morning last February.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Around Town

I walked into town after work last Friday to leave my flute in a for a service - and since the shop is closed for lunch, it was a slow walk. Luckily it was a lovely day, and I got to see the more cultural end of Temple Bar, which isn't normally somewhere I pass through...

The first one isn't actually part of that walk at all, it's the Christmas window display in the local bakery near work.

Then we have some utility box art celebrating Handel's Messiah, just outside Christchurch. Love the hat the fiddle player is wearing!

The back entrance to Dollard & Co , this is the staircase...

Window boxes in the Clarence Hotel

I've often walked past Christchurch and have never gone into the grounds to see what this is - it's a memorial to the Armenian Genocide.

And this last one, I couldn't find any information about. It's beside the back entrance to the Smock Alley Theatre, and is obviously an interpretation of the stars and constellations, but I'm not sure what the boat represents.