Friday 29 August 2014

Funny Old Friday

I seem to have lost my motivation to blog. I take photos and think this will be good to blog about... and then I can't be bothered. I'm finding it hard to believe that anyone else could possibly be interested in where I've been, what I've been doing or what I've got to say! I'm feeling a bit like that generally about everything, which I'm sure has a lot to do with my (nearly but not quite) empty nest this week. Struggling to be bothered...
On Tuesday we went into London and Jacob came in to meet us for lunch. It was a good compromise, with neither us going to Guildford to see him, nor him coming back home. And he's doing okay... settling in day by day. The reason for our trip was to go up the Shard. This had been my birthday present to Stewart, and after all the sunny days this summer we'd booked to go on Tuesday... a very drizzly, grey and misty day!

But despite the weather it was still brilliant and worth doing. The views were amazing and we could imagine how fabulous they would be on a clear day.

We then had a wander over Tower bridge to see the absolutely stunning installation of poppies at the Tower Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red. It was breathtaking and thought provoking. And I especially thought of my Dad, who served his national service with the Royal Fusiliers at the Tower of London. He would have celebrated his 81st birthday this week and yesterday it was two years since he died. Probably another reason I feel out of sorts.

So, I'm still distracting myself by working in my sketchbook and really enjoying the process. I'd forgetten the pleasure of losing oneself in a sketchbook. And maybe soon when I feel more enthusiastic about blogging and everything else I'll show you the results of this sketchbook work. Have a good weekend.

"Feet why do I need them when I have wings to fly" Frida Kahlo 1953

Monday 25 August 2014


Thank you for all your kind and considerate comments on my last post. Jacob appreciated them. Moving into digs on Friday went well, but Jake has had a rocky few days as he gets used to a new environment and all the changes that go with it. I resisted the urge to drive down on Saturday evening and bring him back home for the weekend and he has coped well really with his anxiety. There have been many phone calls and messages! His course doesn't start for another week so this is a settling in time for him... not easy.
Meanwhile, I've distracted myself with various activities. I've been sewing...  making body parts for my next piece of work for the Prism Coded: Decoded exhibition which has its second stage at the Knitting and Stitching Shows this autumn.

I've been knitting... finshing off some bunnies as presents for a new born and her big brother (who is only two)

I've been drawing... and enjoying working in a sketchbook for a new project.

No prizes for guessing what the new project might be!

And last of all, probably my favourite distraction of all, I've been baking.

A blackberry crumble cake, which although quite delicious would have benefited from a dollop of thick cream, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

You can find the recipe here. I just replaced the gooseberries with some blackberries. It would probably work with any tart fruit.

Friday 22 August 2014

Moving On...

I have written about my youngest son, Jacob on previous occasions and long time readers will know he has Asperger's Syndrome, which doesn't always make for plain sailing, especially where education is concerned.  I'm not going to tell his story all over again but you can read about his early experiences of education here... RESULT.
After GCSEs Jake attended the local Regional College to study Music Performance... with the typical 16 year old dream of playing in a band. He did play in a band briefly but the course was not for him. Whilst he was serious about what he wanted to do, too many others in his year group saw it as a chance to mess about and disrupt classes and after nine months he left.

However he did move on to one of Cambridge's leading 6th form colleges where he took A levels. I won't claim he enjoyed this experience, but he did stick at it and came away with some qualifications, still with a dream of working in the music industry.

He returned to the Regional College, this time to study music production where his talent started to shine and he gained several distinctions for his work.

And on the strength of his work, he gained an unconditional place to study for a degree in Electronic Music Production at the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford. Today I'm taking him to move into his digs... my baby is moving out!

This is a massive step for him, given everything he has battled through and I am hugely proud that he has come so far. Go and enjoy the experience Jake and know that I'm your biggest fan! I'll miss you but I know you'll do well! x

Tuesday 19 August 2014


I am one of those people who cannot miss breakfast. I would almost go as far as saying it is my favourite meal of the day. It is usually just cereal or fruit and yoghurt... sometimes I might have a slice of toast and marmalade, but I rarely if ever miss it. So when Nancy posted about her quick and easy Granola I was intrigued... it sounded delicious and simple!
And indeed it was simple... just four ingredients.
Melt together 25g unsalted butter, 60g runny honey, 60g smooth peanut butter in a medium pan.
When melted stir into 300g rolled oats until thoroughly mixed. Spread out onto a lightly greased baking tray and bake at 180 deg C for just 15 minutes and allow to cool on the tray. You can find the original recipe from Jack Munroe, which suggests variations here.

It crisps up as it cools. When cold I mix in a handful of raisins and then store in an air tight jar.

I cannot tell you how good this is... so good I could eat it by the handful, although I prefer it with a splash of cold milk and some soft fruit. Which makes me feel very virtuous!

Although as I left the house at 6.15 am this morning to go for a swim there was a decided chill in the air and I was thinking I'll soon be back on the porridge.
How about you, do you eat breakfast?

Saturday 16 August 2014

Not One, But Two

I was all set to make another reversible skirt from my recent fabric purchases when I remembered that I had actually bought some fabric a couple of months ago that was also destined to become a skirt... except that after I had I pre-washed it ( a lesson learned because my original skirt is now just a tad too small!) it then got tidied away in my pre-open studios clear up and promptly forgotten about.
So, there was nothing else for it really... but to make two skirts this week! This was my first one made from a lovely duck egg blue/green fabric printed with French Patisserie images (bought from The Creative Sanctuary) ...

And lined with pink spots...

Although pleased with the results, my favourite part of all are the buttons which I absolutely love.

And so to my second lot of fabric bought last Sunday (from Little Laura's Haberdashery), in very similar colours...

And now I have skirt number two, finished this morning.

Also with rather fabulous buttons!

By pure coincidence, whilst knitting with friends yesterday morning, Pam presented us all with a gift of fabric with instructions to make a drawstring bag... and the fabric she had picked for me just happened to be the same pink baking fabric I've used for my skirt.

So when I finished the skirt, I knew I had to make myself the matching bag.

I'm now feeling very pleased with myself having finished off two projects in one day... although the bag was super quick and easy... so thank you Pam! Perfect for keeping my knitting tidy! You can find the tutorial to make the bag here.

All this playing with fabric does mean that I've now got to get my head down and get some actual work done in the next couple of weeks. I put aside August for catching up around the house and garden as well as finishing off some of my own projects and so far I've not even started... and August is half way through with very little to show for  it...

Except of course, there are some rather nice buttons... speaking of which I got carried away with the little blue/cake buttons and I made too many...

So if you could make use of a little set of cake buttons than leave me a comment to let me know and I'll pick out a name and send you some!

Tuesday 12 August 2014

Fabric Purchases!

Since I was last here I've been away for the weekend. I went to the Festival of Quilts for two days with a couple of friends, staying overnight in Birmingham... old news really as there have already been plenty of blog posts about the show. I usually only go up for one day, so it was rather nice to have the luxury of not feeling like I needed to rush around packing everything into a single day as well as being able to spend time with my friends. Although if I'm honest I had pretty much seen all I wanted to see, bought what I needed to buy and even took a 1 hour workshop all on the first day.
There were some fabulous exhibitions of work in the galleries from established artists but the one that stood out for me was the solo show by Hungarian artist Eszter Bornemisza, whose delicate, fragmented pieces crossed that boundary from quilts to fine art... actually I'm not sure they could really be classed as quilts but they were stunning.

I was also rather taken by the quilts of Ineke van Unen just for their exuberent use of colour.

Unfortunately not so many of the competition quilts really grabbed my attention. Maybe I'm just getting too critical but despite some exquisite workmanship, I felt many were let down by design... and far too many look as though they should be on beds, not walls! My preference is for the abstract rather than pictorial and I did rather like this winner of the contemporary quilt category... all made from old shirts and ties!
My shopping on Saturday was limited to what I actually needed and I bought a few Kaffe Fassett shot cottons in shades of purple for a cushion I'd been commissioned to make. I spent most of yesterday cutting them up and combining them with some of my stash to make this patchwork cover based on Janice Gunner's wonky log cabin designs.

Today it was quilted, piped and made up into a cushion which I'm now a bit reluctant to part with...

It matches the sofa in my living room rather too well. But if I keep it I'll only have to make another and I don't really think I can be bothered!

My other necessary fabric purchase was to find something that looked vaguely like cat fur. Jacob rather likes the cat pictures by Louis Wain and wanted a tea cosy for his small teapot that matches his tea mug. I made the tea cosy this afternoon but I'm not entirely happy with it... there's not really enough definition. Back to the drawing board with that one...

But probably not just yet... because I've a third fabric purchase to deal with. This was not on my list of fabric that I needed to buy, but of course having the luxury of a whole extra day to wander around meant I spotted some totally unecessary fabric that I just had to have. This is destined to become another reversible skirt...

Watch this space!

Thursday 7 August 2014

The Year in Books :: August

It actually took me all of July to read my book choice for The Year in Books last month but I enjoyed and savoured this wonderful biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrara. Her extraordinary life makes for fascinating reading and I also enjoyed learning more about her paintings and why she painted them. I finished the book in the last week of July and we watched the film Frida at the weekend, which I also thoroughly enjoyed.
My book choice for August, recommended by my friend Anne is another crime drama but not your usual run of the mill murder mystery

The death of Lucy Kyte by Nicola Upson is set in the 1930s and tells the story of crime writer Josephine Tey recreated as a fictional character, who inherits Red Barn cottage from her godmother Hester, a well known actress. The cottage is close to the site of the notorious 19th century murder of Maria Marten, which was an actual event. Hester had been fascinated by the life of Maria and frequently played her on stage. I admit that I am already half way through this book and the tension is building as the secrets of the cottage and Hester's life and death are unravelled. I think my favourite type of story is one that weaves a fictional tale around real life events.
I suppose that the book holds a particular fascination as many years ago I also played the part of Maria Marten when our drama group put on a Victorian melodrama as part of an Old Time Music Hall.

We played "The Murder in the Red Barn" very tongue in cheek and I'm not sure at the time I was even aware that it was based on a true story.

But now that I've done some research into the original story of the murder it has brought me right back to my childhood. From about age 5 until I was 9 or 10 we lived in Bury St. Edmunds, where the murderer William Corder was tried and hanged. And suddenly I have clear memories of playground games involving murders in barns and ghosts etc. that had been long forgotten. Isn't it strange how things come around

Joining in with The Year in Books with Laura at Circle of Pine Trees.
What are you reading this summer?

Sunday 3 August 2014


Before I left for my week at Missenden Abbey I left a note... "Please water the veg and pick/use the courgettes" Well, they picked the courgettes...
but this was what met me when I opened the fridge on Friday evening. I kid you not, I've not set up the photo... a packet of bacon, some cartons of orange juice... and 33 courgettes... nothing else!
So it's going to be courgettes every meal until they are all gone. On Friday we had Courgette and Lemon pasta (recipe from Emma... and now a firm family favourite)

Saute a chopped onion with some chopped rosemary in a little olive oil until soft. Add 3-4 sliced courgettes and fry for a further 3-4 minutes. Add the juice of a lemon and a small glass of white wine and simmer until courgettes are soft. Add a couple of tablespoons of creme fraiche and some grated parmesan and serve on linguine with extra parmesan sprinkled on top.

On Saturday it was courgette and rice filo pie from Hugh's Veg Everyday book. Very good served with beans from the garden too.

Tonight they've had a courgette curry...

And as a double whammy there was courgette and lime cake too!

Despite being alarmingly green it tastes rather wonderful... recipe can be found here. 
(They are pistachios on the top... not chopped courgettes!)

There will be more... I plan to find a new courgette recipe everyday until they beg me to stop... that'll learn 'em!