Saturday, 25 December 2010

Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas Eve

How come it's Christmas Eve again, I suppose I should know by now it seems to occur regularly every 364 days but it just sneaks up on you and especially when you are not prepared. I have just finished some logo work, haven't had any time for baking other than these veggie spring rolls which I knocked up yesterday to freeze for boxing day. They are gingery and garlicky and I will make up a fresh dipping sauce of coconut cream, green chilli, lemon grass, lime juice, ginger & garlic and this makes one of my favourite festive nibbles.
Haven't made any sweet things because I usually do baking and then do a bit extra for friends pressies but I haven't been able to see any friends pre-Christmas due to the weather and car not working, so hence no baking, yet. 

I haven't bothered to get my little tree out this year, I think I'm generally too cold and un-festive feeling to consider the effort of rumaging in a cold room full of boxes to find a few trimmings when there are more important things like just trying to keep warm and fed. I have made a little window display with some decorations a friend gave me the other year and this is about as festive as it gets here.

That said the little robin has been visiting regularly for snacks, he or she is featured on my Christmas card textile artwork this year. And even more exciting and looking festive in the snow, a fox has visited this morning and I captured him trotting past.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Happy Winter Solstice

It was a special solstice this year with the lunar eclipse coinciding for the 1st time in nearly 400 years. I was up for sunrise but only saw the slightest glimpse of the moon amongst the trees. Because this place is surrounded by trees the moon didn't rise high enough for me to see it in all its glory which was a shame.
Last night though was very bright outside especially with the moonshine reflected back from the snow.

Here's to the start of a brilliant new year filled with change and hope. Best wishes to all my friends and I hope you achieve your dreams.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Snow fall in Bridlington

Yesterday I had to make a flying visit to Brid to collect unsold artwork from Gallery 49. In Driffield we hadn't had much overnight snow and the main roads were clear, it was just a bitterly cold -4 degrees.
However it was a very different story when I got beyond Burton Agnes, there had been quite a snowfall through the day and arriving in Brid Old Town it was well over walking boot tops when I got out of the car.
All was looking nice, festive and picturesque until I had another car incident when I found the door I had been using to crawl in had frozen and I nearly couldn't get back home!

Weekend craft fair

It was all very last minute but the craft fair went ahead on Saturday and I made it with a car full of stuff. I had too much as it turned out but of course I had been gearing up for the bigger craft fair which was cancelled. It was only a small affair with about a handful of stalls but it was busy and well attended.

Anyway I displayed the most appropriate things and it's always interesting to see what sells. Usually I do well with my lavender bag hearts as they are one of my cheapest things but I didn't sell any this time. Nor did I sell any of my Christmas decoration pixies or owls. I did do well with my new heart shaped brooches and with my corsage & flower brooches. It was definitely worth going and felt quite festive.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

North Dalton craft fair, 18th - weather permitting!

At the moment I have to assume the festive craft fair at North Dalton this Saturday afternoon will still go ahead so I'm making one or two last minute things like these knitted pencil pots. Of course the predicted return with avengence of bad weather from Friday might put a stop to it but lets keep our fingers crossed and think positive.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Seeking solace in a jammy dodger!

I've just had a nasty little car related incident whilst going for supplies in Driffield. I was half way through my errands when I decided to go and get the car so that I could buy a snow shovel or garden shovel and pop it straight in. Pulled up near Wilkinsons and couldn't get out of the car, the alarm had decided to play up, the doors were stuck in the locked position and I couldn't release the button to get out. Suddenly I was trapped and panic set in, I started pulling and grabbing at the door handles and lock buttons but I couldn't shift anything. Tried starting her up again to see if it would release the settings but no, I was well and truly a prisoner in my own car!

All I could do was drive home and contemplate how I was going to crawl out of an open car window which seemed unlikely as I'm hardly the most flexible person.
When I got back there was good and bad news, I managed to release the lock button on the passenger door so I only had to slide across the seats. The bad news is the driver side is stuck.
So, I am consoling myself with tea and jammy dodgers, ok not proper jammies, copycat Sainsburys ones but they'll do! Do you like my groovy, 70's saucers I got from a charity shop recently.

Other good news today, the oil has been delivered although the tanker got stuck in the ice when he was leaving and the coffee grinder is here, yippee!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

First latte art at home

The new espresso machine saw its first use last night. There was a fair bit of experimenting but that is mainly to do with the coarseness of the grind which effects the extraction time and taste. As the new grinder has not appeared yet, the rather unsophisticated Krupps grinder I have is making it difficult to get a good tasting result. The notch settings on the grinder between fine and coarse are very basic and make it tricky if you want a setting between 2 notches. I think until the new Mazzer grinder appears it will be a bit hit and miss.

However the machine was working beautiful and steaming milk nicely and after about half a dozen tests I made a successful cappuccino with a little heart on top (not central), it tasted very well balanced too considering!
Not sure which shows my heart best so have posted flashed & unflashed picture.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

It's officially 'freezing' inside the house!

Today saw the inside porch reach the lowest I've seen with the thermometer showing -1 degree.  The lounge is only making about 8 degrees and possibly up to 11 when the radiators are on. What was the warmest area in the house, kitchen / dining and having the clapped out old aga is usually about 18 degrees on a good day but now it's a shivvering 14. I have no idea what temperature the main bathroom is as the radiator is virtually non existent and the top 3 photos are the ice patterns formed inside the bathroom windows this morning. Nice patterns but you wouldn't think I'd have to live in these conditions in 2010, it's worse than when I was a student! I have 2 vests on today and 2 jumpers, thermal long johns and fleecy lined, almost ski trousers, and for the first time I've put 2 pairs of socks on. I feel so bulked out with layers that I can hardly move through doorways!

I could do with ordering some heating oil so that the radiators could be on a bit during the day but I'm trying to make it last as the lanes and driveway to the house are still so bad with snow that an oil tanker is going to struggle to even get down here. Fingers crossed it doesn't run out and if you realise I haven't written a blog post for a couple of weeks it might be worth calling emergency services incase I've frozen to death!

The bottom 2 pics are reflections on the car windows with ice particles.

Training with Limini Coffee

It finally happened yesterday, braved the sub-zero temperatures & went for barista training at Limini Coffee and also collected a bright red La Spaziale espresso machine. Youri & Howard did the training on the actual machine which was great to get to grips with your own piece of kit.

It's a wonderful machine and we were more or less pulling good shots from the start. Youri showed the different taste results you get by going through the range of temperatures.
It was then the milk steaming and the latte art. This is going to take some practise but I'm sure it will come and after all that is the icing on the cake. I now have the ability to make great tasting coffee at home, or at least I should have when the new grinder finally gets delivered. 

It was a fab day being trained by such passionate coffee heads!

Monday, 6 December 2010

More coffee training

Fingers crossed and weather permitting it could be an exciting afternoon. The barista training which I had to cancel due to snow the other day is supposed to be happening later. And, even more exciting, a new espresso machine ordered from Italy is waiting to be collected at the training centre.

I have gradually been gathering bits of equipment to go with the new kit when it arrives. Below is a milk texturing jug with thermometer, 2 espresso shot glasses and an automatic tamper.
The only thing currently held up in the snow is a new grinder, it was dispatched over a week ago but the road down here is too treacherous for the post and vans at the moment so goodness knows where the grinder is right now.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

First time out in a week

Finally got the car dug out yesterday and with the help of some cardboard to stop the wheels spinning it was released from its snowy resting place it's been stuck in all week!
The main roads didn't look too bad so the destination was Scarborough for emergency food supplies, plenty of coffee beans from Roasters and a few bits of fabric, as I was near the fabric shop!

Lots of luscious new fabrics to choose from and some delightful Christmas prints.
I also noticed driving out of Scarborough that I think the wool shop Multi-Ply may have shut down, either that or it's having renovations as I'm sure it looked empty. Shame if its gone as they had a good supply of unusual wools.

Thursday, 2 December 2010


I'm getting fed up of the snow now, I am just getting over a cold and was looking forward to advancing my coffee skills tomorrow as I was due on another course in preparation for taking delivery of a new espresso machine but it looks like the weather is going to spoil any chance of getting out and to the course in Doncaster.

The problem with the snow here is it takes ages to disappear even if the temperature rises. Most of the driveway, which is on a slippery slope, is surrounded by trees so the sun never gets on certain areas and after a little bit of digging yesterday it seems like ice is under the snow which is going to delay the thaw further. Its a complete re-run of last years bad weather, the postman hasn't been near nor by for a week and I have important stuff due, the bin men probably won't come if the post van won't drive down but thats ok as I reckon I could go 3 weeks on the bin front. 

I'm well stocked up with soya milk as I'd been gathering it already to get through the festive period and if supplies start to dwindle I have a few foodie things I'd started putting in a hamper for xmas pressies which I suppose could be consumed and replaced at a later date.

I haven't even mentioned how cold it is in here. Luckily the last time I was out shopping 2 weeks ago, Mountain Warehouse had an offer on buy 1 get 1 free on thermal vests and long johns so I purchased a lovely warm set in purple.

Hope everyone else is keeping warm and dry.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Robin in the snow

A pair of very cute robins are visiting the garden now that the snow is here. I have managed to encourage them to come and take tit bits from the steps near the door so that I get a good view. They really are classic little round and plump robins and I've decided to make this years festive card based on a robin. It is taking the form of a paper and fabric picture of a robin.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Best result yet in Spoonflower contest

Spoonflower have announced the winning Christmas Stocking Kit (a day late as they had Thanksgiving) and I'm really pleased to have my best result yet by coming 12th out of 59 entries. I was only a handful off the top 10 which for me is great as I only have a small circle of friends who would vote for me and I guess if you are a person with loads of Twitter & Facebook friends then you have a wider audience to hint at voting for you.

I've entered this weeks contest which had the theme of candles and my Nutcracker man candle design is featured below. I think that's me done with contests for a while as the next few themes are not really sparking any ideas.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Craft fair cancelled on 28th

Due to the snow we've had and the predicted bad weather into next week the school have decided to cancel the craft fair. In a way its a bit of a relief as I've got a stinking cold and cough so at least the decision whether to go has been made for me.

I have a plan B so when I feel a bit more lively I will continue my preparations as I've now booked a table at the North Dalton Christmas Festival on 18th December.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Postcard in textiles

I was looking forward to a  final few days of frantic crafting before the weekends craft fair but production has slowed up as I'm coming down with a cold. I've had to open my new honey to have the odd spoonful to ease the sore throat, it really is delicious. I don't want to waste this good stuff in my hot lemons so will dig out an old crusty jar I've got at the back of the cupboard.

I was trying one or two alternative things for the craft fair but I'm not going to get them finished as the packaging, labeling & pricing will take forever but I wanted to make little postcard pouches. Here is one half started, the idea was it could be either a purse or a gift pouch.

Notice the piece of board with the bulldog clips? I found a book in the library which had a piece on weaving around bulldog clips. I have never really managed to successfully remove my weaving without it coming unravelled so I thought I'd try this technique and see if its easier removing the threads from the clips.

Spoonflower fabric for sale

I have listed some of my fabric for sale in the Spoonflower Marketplace. The first piece to go 'live' is the design which I created for one of my college projects. it is the Seeds, Weeds & Accessories fabric in a natural colour.
I used this fabric on the back of a purse and on the front I embellished & embroidered similar style plants.

Monday, 22 November 2010

ERA Christmas social

Yesterday afternoon was the preview of the Affordable Art Show followed by the East Riding Artists Christmas social. Unfortunately I arrived at Gallery 49 too late for the preview so I carried on round the corner for the social which they were having at The Georgian Tea Rooms. I was greeted with the news that I had sold one of my pictures. I was delighted, because other than craft things this is the first piece of work I've sold off the wall at a gallery. It certainly cheered up what had been a cold, wet, grey day.

Had a good mooch round the curios upstairs in the tea rooms, nibbled some buffet then we went straight into the auction. We all bring bits n bobs of hand made gifts and auction it to go back into the kitty. 
I had my eye on a lovely Christmas cake my friend Selina had made and I'm pleased to say I won it in the auction and here is the picture to prove I even got it home safely without it flying off the car seat! I love Christmas cake and especially almond paste so I can't wait to get stuck in.

I also bid & won this lovely little candle holder which Polly had made from a radiator cover.
We had a bee keeper amongst us who I hadn't met before and despite his honey going for a good price in the auction I was lucky enough to buy a jar from the stash in his car.
It was a really good afternoon and the first of the festive get togethers.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Brooches & rings for craft fair

I'm currently burning the candle at both ends with production of my textile items for the Christmas craft fair at Driffield school next sunday. I'm cataloguing what things I can on the blog. Here we have some new felt brooches and new for this year I've had a go at textile rings where I have used some retro fabric and embellished on it or around it with beads.