Monday, 30 November 2009

A Recipe...

For Frangipane Mince Pies. As several people asked it seemed easier to post it here. It makes about 36 pies.

  • 750g sweet shortcrust pastry ( I actually used 125g butter, 50g caster sugar, 250g plain flour, 1 egg yolk + 2tbsp water and it was just enough rolled out very thin!)
  • large jar of good mincemeat
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 50g plain flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp brandy
  • flaked almonds
  1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C.
  2. Grease three 12 hole tart tins. Roll out pastry thinly and cut 36 rounds of pastry to line tins. Leave to rest in fridge while you make the frangipagne.
  3. Beat the butter until soft. Beat in the sugar until pale and fluffy and then beat in the almonds. Mix in the flour, the eggs and finally the brandy.
  4. Half fill the pastry cases with mincemeat and then spoon a heaped teaspoon of frangipagne over the top over each one. Smooth it over and sprinkle with flaked almonds.
  5. Bake for about 20 - 25 mins until golden brown. Serve warm sprinkled with icing sugar.

(Recipe from Richard Bertinet in Times Magazine 21.11.09)

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Feeling Festive

On Friday I met Dotty Cookie for lunch at our local garden centre. After eating we had a stroll around their Christmas shop... and we both ended up buying some little glass ornaments, which I'm sure one or other of us will show you soon! As a result I came home feeling very festive and had to make three dozen of these... mince pies with a frangipane topping... I say so myself but by far the best mince pies I've tasted in quite a while! (Recipe from The Times magazine from two weeks ago). In fact they are so good there are only half a dozen left!

The festive feeling has stayed with me all weekend so when Dotty Cookie posted a tutorial for a snow angel I couldn't resist giving it a try (despite the shadow of degree work to finish looming large)... and here she is!

And then I even had to get this out ready for Tuesday. Despite the children I still have living at home being 17, 20 and 24 there were still cries of "Oh, the advent calendar!" I guess you are never too old to be feeling festive!

No bags of chocolate hanging up yet though... I know my boys too well!

Friday, 27 November 2009


At my City and Guilds class on Wednesday one of my students Gill brought in a sample she had constructed from circles of felt. She had seen a cushion in a DIY store that was covered with these and had very cleverly worked out how it was constructed and made the sample below. We were all very impressed!

In typical tutor fashion, I then suggested it might work to make the sample from circles of sheer fabrics that had been layered and then cut out with a soldering iron, to which Gill's response was... "Well go on then!" (They have no respect for their teacher!)... So I did!

I didn't take photos of the process but this is the finished result. Tiny sheer circles, the size of a 2p piece, manipulated and stitched down onto organza ribbon.

Which makes a very impractical bracelet.

Quite pretty though! And there is no point me making suggestions if I'm not going to follow them through.

Next time I might keep my mouth shut though!

Thursday, 26 November 2009


Part of the appeal of blogging is the feedback from fellow bloggers in the form of comments. After hitting the "Publish Post" button I have to resist the urge to keep checking whether anyone has commented yet... I'm not the only one am I? The excitment of getting comments, of seeing what people have to say is all part of the pleasure of blogging. And I firmly believe that if we are putting ourselves and our work out there to be viewed by the public then we have to be prepared for all sorts of reactions... good or bad, positive or negative. Of course we all love to be told what we've done is wonderful but it can be quite refreshing to have a different opinion too. After my last post the feedback was very positive and encouraging... and fortunately for me my tutor's reaction was much the same. But there was one commenter who didn't like what I had done. I replied to her and she came back worried she had upset me... but nothing could be further from the truth. She made me laugh and made me realise how important it is to keep my feet firmly on the ground.... and let's face it... she had a point!

So, GreedyNan... please don't stop commenting. And those of you who tell me everything's wonderful... you can carry on too, because without you all I'd just be talking to myself!!!

If it wasn't for meeting fellow bloggers through comments there wouldn't be lovely surprises in the post like these latest batch of wiggly bags from Andrea. Once again Andrea got her year 10 textile group to make me wiggly bags. Thank you so much... it was very thoughtful of you and I know they will be much appreciated.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The Execution of a Proposal

I have stitched almost continuously since Saturday...

The first portrait was completed while I waited for the visitors who didn't come!

Another two were finished on Sunday.

And the final one finished yesterday...
the five o'clock shadow on this is a little disturbing!

Yesterday I had a "well, what was the point of all that" moment but overall I think I'm pleased.
My tutorial is this evening at 5.30!

Saturday, 21 November 2009


Thank you generous blogging friends for your kind wishes. I'd like to say I was overwhelmed with visitors all day long but I would be fibbing. It has been very quiet (I know... my own fault for not advertising). Not many people at all, but those that came were interested and bought bits and pieces which made it all worth while.

I'm not about to retire to a life of luxury but there are few more pennies in the coffer.

And there was plenty of this on offer to make the day chugg along nicely.

I even got some stitching done on my portraits!

It Happens Every Year

In June I get a phone call:
"Would you like to put an advert in the village Harvest Fair programme?"
"Yes, why not... I know I'll advertise a Chistmas Open Day"
Move forward five months and a friend will casually remark:
"Looking forward to your open day in a couple of weeks."
"Open day? OPEN DAY????"

I always forget. I always think I've got plenty of time. So this week has seen several of these chaps being finished off:

A few more of these being made:

Several bits and bobs made for the tree:

And even some more of these:

Of course because I forgot all about it I've not really advertised it so probably no one will turn up for my open day... TODAY!!! But on the bright side that will mean I can sit stitching my portraits and I'll have plenty of homemade pressies all ready for Christmas!
I suppose I should get off the computer and go and shower... I open in just over an hour!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

A Visual Proposal

I propose a series of four images, identical faces filling the frame, only the light source changes in each image representing the passing of time. The figure remains the same, impassive, sitting quietly in a tranquil space, alone, staying still as the time passes.

A rare opportunity to take time to reflect, time to think. The stillness of each figure only emphasises the significance of the passage of time. Each image will be worked in charcoal and conte crayon in three tones onto a square of canvas which will then be stitched into with toning threads.

I would like to take some time for a rare opportunity to reflect... but I think I need to get stitching!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

From One Extreme to Another

Yesterday it was wild, wet and windy... today unseasonably warm and sunny. Not at all like November.

But perfect for a long walk after lunch.

Which of course means guilt free cake for afternoon tea after all that fresh air and exercise.

Can I offer you a slice of raspberry and cream sponge?

Saturday, 14 November 2009


I've finished another pair of socks...

Perfect on a wet and windy November evening, after a day teaching, for relaxing in front of the fire... while I cast on the next pair.

Friday, 13 November 2009

A Rainy Day in London

It takes more than a drop of rain to put me off... so first stop The Royal Academy to meet my very special friend Jude to see the Anish Kapoor exhibition.

It was "interesting"... okay what I said at the time (referring to the sculpture in the picture above) using my honest artistic opinion... "It looks like piles of poo!" Actually some of it was interesting and very thought provoking and I loved the sculpture in the courtyard...

"Tall Tree and the Eye"... a fabulous stainless steel and carbon steel structure.

I took loads of photos of the reflections... of the reflections

Can you see me?

We then had lunch in our favourite restaurant before heading off to the V & A to see the Maharaja exhibition which I can thoroughly recommend. It is worth going just to see the fabulous jewels.

It also happened to be Jude's birthday this week and the very attentive among you may remember I bought this wool at the festival of quilts for a secret project...

Which I turned into this knitted and felted bag for Jude's birthday.

Couldn't resist making some little dangly flowery bits with the left over yarn!

After saying goodbye to Jude at the V & A I met Stewart after work at the Champagne Bar at St. Pancras before catching the train home. In his words "The perfect start to the weekend"... except I'm working tomorrow! Hope you all have a perfect weekend!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

"Hello Cambridge..."

Last night I went to a gig... standing room only in the back room of a Cambridge pub along with several 17 and 18 year olds. I'd like to say it made me feel young and trendy... but it didn't. I thought most of the music (for want of a better word) was noisy and tuneless and the singing was more like screaming (apparently that is what all "Nu Metal" sounds like... which shows what I know.) But I did think this band was rather good...

Jacob's first gig with his band "The Restless Beards"

Over thirty years ago I saw David Bowie sing "Jean Genie" and last night I watched Jacob do the same... along with four other songs that they'd written themselves.

I was impressed! They were good... well done Jacob, Matt and Rory.

Do you think David Bowie's Mum came to see his first gig?

Monday, 9 November 2009

Assignment Four...

is all about the figure and light. Taking inspiration from such masters as...



and Vermeer...

I've done a number of figure studies concentrating on light and in particular the strong contrast between light and dark. They have included the following four self portraits, each drawn with the light coming from a different direction, and each one appearing to be of a different person, none of whom quite resemble me!

All a bit scary really!... Just to prove I'm not really that scary...this is what I really look like!

Now I've got to use this research material to produce a visual proposal for a work of my choice... Eh? Any clues anyone???