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.

Friday, 18 March 2016

On the way to NOT work....

I had today off, and C took it as a day off in lieu of having to work on Good Friday - so of course we both woke up as if it were a normal working day. I needed to go to the shopping centre for something, so I walked over - a pretty brisk walk because it was colder than I was expecting and I had left my gloves at home, not thinking I would need them. Wrong...

Crows nesting - and dropping plenty of twigs below as they worked!

The shopping centre was still all decorated for St. Patrick's Day. I especially liked the Angry Birds balloon decor!!

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Happy St. Patrick's Day

It's a bright and sunny morning here - a treat for St Patrick's Day - even if it's not actually all that warm. I can remember snow one year!!

I have been working on this card during the week, and since I don't have any Patrick-related photos this year, I'm sharing this instead. Online friendships are great!

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Greystones (2)

The first shot was actually taken on the way to the station here - it had rained overnight.

This sculpture is new since the last time I walked along the seafront; he has a bucket and spade, but I'm not sure what exactly he's meant to be - he has a rather Antipodean look and made me think of wallabies, for some reason.

In the inlet below Carrig Eden, the waves were washing in and out and sparkling like crystal - which I couldn't really capture, though I did my best. It was so windy that it was hard to hold the camera steady, even balanced on the railings.

Weatherworn - the perspex or whatever was protecting this poster looks like cracked earth in a drought.

This was one of three windows in a cottage near the railway bridge. It's funny, I don't remember those porthole windows at all, and I used to know somebody who lived just two doors up.

Several of the old beech trees along Church Road had been felled. With a couple more trunks left unusually high, I wondered if they were going to be carved like this one...

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Greystones (1)

I was visiting my aunt on Wednesday, and had already planned to get the train rather than drive.
Since it was a beautiful sunny day, I got an earlier train to give myself some time to walk along the seafront a little. The beach itself has changed so much from when I was a child - there never used to be any grasses growing on it at all.
First photo is looking down the coast towards Kilcoole, the second photo looks north towards Howth Head.

The next two are a mural encouraging dog owners to be responsible, and a view looking towards the train station, you can see the footbridge over the railway track.

There used to be a mens bathing place which was full of water even at low tide - now it's just sand. I have, somewhere, a photo taken about four years ago where more of the mural was visible - back then, you could see the fisherman down to his waist, so it's still filling up with sand.

(Thank you, Lorraine! I thought I had uploaded it - here's the link to a Nov 2011 photo of the mural.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Here be monsters

...or else a child who likes the Gruffalo and Thomas the Tank Engine. I've noticed this house several times - the Gruffalo gang are in the fanlight over the front door, and the bridge and trains are in the window of one of the front rooms.

Sunday, 6 March 2016


My new glasses were ready for collection  - and the options were to drive over on Saturday, or for me to get the train out on Wednesday and then go all the way the other direction to Greystones. It would have worked - but it was a fine sunny day, so C suggested that we could collect them and then go for a walk along Portmarnock strand. 
Until I was about 3 my parents lived nearby, and my mother often used to push the pram along the seafront, but my first personal memory of it was a school trip when I was in 1st or 2nd year - and I loved it! So different to our Greystones beaches - much sandier, and many, many more shells.

In the second photo, looking back towards the town, you can see an old Martello tower (fortifications built along the coast by the British).

This is a photo-heavy post, but it didn't seem worth splitting them into two.

The beach is under one of the flight paths to Dublin airport, so every five minutes or less a new plane kept passing overhead.

Lambay Island

Portmarnock Hotel

As we returned to the car-park, there were two people walking right along the edge of the water and stooping down regularly to pick something up and drop it into a bag. I'm guessing it was must have been some sort of shellfish.

The jury is out on my new glasses; there was the option of getting a free upgrade to reactive lenses, with the option of downgrading at no charge within one month. I don't normally bother with sunglasses and have to admit that it was very nice not to be squinting, but I am not sure, as someone who lives with a camera in her bag, whether I can cope with the colour distortions. It was also rather disconcerting that when reviewing a photo to see if the exposure was correct, I had to look over the glasses; not doing that was one of my main reasons for switching to varifocals last time I got new ones! I'll give myself two weeks to decide...