Saturday, 31 December 2011

New Years Eve

Finally closing the doors on a year which I think had more troughs than peaks so I look forward to next year.
Here is one final offering for my blog, an interesting quote I thought: -

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves. ~ Bill Vaughan. 

I think I'm sat somewhere between both thought paths tonight, It doesn't help when I feel like I may be getting another sore throat so I might crack into this, my miniature bottle of quite expensive Welsh whisky which I had been saving for a rainy day!

Happy New Year everyone, hope you all have a happy, healthy and hugely creative new year! x

Friday, 30 December 2011

A giveaway over at YellowButtercup

If like me you are feeling a bit post-Christmas blues and you want cheering up with the prospect of winning a blog giveaway, pop over to Becky's blog at The YellowButtercup and see her lovely fabric and lace up for grabs.

You'll also see some lovely ideas for things to make and great recipes.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

One last Christmas thing - Groovy card

I had to share this with you.
I like Christmas cards,.... making, giving and receiving. Every now and again I come across one which really makes me smile and this year I received this exquisite offering.

I particularly like the Victorian illustrative style of the 'santa' elves, I like the fact it almost has sinister overtones as we are looking at a toadstool rather than a mushroom, but all that is counteracted by the sugary pink colours and the glitter.
A real feast for the eyes & one to keep and frame up for next year I think.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Is it all over yet?!!!

Christmas boredom has set in and we haven't even had the TV on, anyway I'm back at my desk processing some xmas photos.

I don't really get excited about Christmas anymore, that in part is due to my life being at a transition stage where I want to move on to a different part of the country and start a new lifestyle. As some will know, I live in a rented cottage & a lot of my stuff is still in boxes so as I can't get all my trimmings out, it never really feels festive here. This is the second year I haven't made the effort to locate my tree and so my alternative christmas tree this year has been an Ikea metal stand with a few of my favourite decorations which friends have given me over the years.

Christmas day itself was nice and quiet and went to plan with a brisk morning walk around Scarborough, I took Bob the Bunny because he hadn't been before.

We started at the south cliff end, coming down the cliffs towards the beach and past the beach huts.

Bob had a look through the glass into the Spa. It was all very nice and quiet and quite unusual not to see all the glowing lights of the amusements, must be the one day of the year when it all grinds to a halt.

We walked back to the car a similar route but de-toured through the Italian Gardens so that Bob could see if there were any fish in the ponds.

Time to go home now and prepare a festive lunch!

I took an alternative, stress free option for Christmas lunch, every year I seem to spend hours in the kitchen preparing but this year I decided would be different. No cooking as such and all the vegetables would be eaten raw apart from the new potatoes. Have you guessed what I prepared, .... I did a cheese fondue! I have to say it was really enjoyable and despite the thought of cheese being a bit unhealthy, it felt quite good dipping in raw mushrooms, cauliflower, carrots, celery, parsnips, and then a few new potatoes!
For once I wasn't over stuffed with food and managed a bit of pudding.

I realised I hadn't opened the presents and there were some lovely things, some people had taken on board how cold it is in this house so I got some lovely thick socks, fluffy slipper boots, scarves. Chocolate vampires and other tasty treats.

An interesting selection of fat quarters.

This Mrs Beetons cook book which has been revised and brought up to date by a guy who I was at school with which is why I think my mum got me it. It's a nice book but being a vegetarian half of the book will be redundant as there are pages & pages of meat, fish and poultry. That said, I've found some nice pudding, bread and jam recipes which I'll be able to try.

Thankfully it has been mild. 

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Happy Christmas everyone!

I want to wish all my bloggy friends old and new a Very Happy Christmas and an exciting and creative 2012! x

Christmas Eve coffee & tea

Had a lovely morning in York, no stress, no crowds, no shopping.
Arrived early to get parked and I was strolling alongside the river by 8.30, it was a wee bit chilly, I took Bob the Bunny and he wore his new red winter scarf.
Here he is just going by Cliffords Tower into town.

Not long before we reached the warm welcoming door to Spring Espresso on Fossgate.

Steve had just opened up and I started with a delicious flat white.

Enjoyed some sticky toffee cake, eaten too quick for a photo! 

An espresso followed by a piccolo and then Bob tucked into a juicy cinnamon bagel!

The purpose of the trip was also to buy a Piaoi tea pot which is a fantastic device from China to make the perfect cuppa. I went mad and bought the tea pot with a special cup and some interesting loose tea, Vietnamese Puerh, Pouchong and Dragon Well. And, just incase I run out of coffee beans over Christmas I bought a bag of Melpomene Espresso blend.

So I think that's me about done now and here's one final photo of some odd decorations I saw in a shop on Fossgate, not sure if I like them or not.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Last few handmade gifts

I think I'm finally on top of making things for Christmas and so my target in the next 24 hours is to try and clear my crafty stuff from the dining table which is where I do most of it.

I made food gifts for friends yesterday which included:

Spicy roast nuts.

Savoury oat biscuits for cheese.

White chocolate Irish cream truffles, too much of a faff so only did 7 and ate 1!

Florentines, my particular favourite.

A few of the citrus rinds were about done so I dipped them in G & B's white chocolate. (all the nibbles are for my friend who only eats white choc).

Here they are all wrapped and tagged ready to make up a little hamper.

Finally I also finished a few last minute recycled paper Yule garlands.

That's me nearly done, I can't be bothered to do much cleaning as I feel I'm just setting myself one task after another and the to do list is endless if I think about it. Besides which there will probably be no visitors as I like a quiet Christmas.
I am looking forward to a nice potter around York tomorrow morning as a form of relaxation, no shops or shopping just a trip to one of my favourite coffee shops and I might buy a special teapot there. 

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Today has a yellow theme

I had one of those moments in a charity shop yesterday where something was sitting on a shelf just waiting for me to buy it.
How about this super groovy vintage coffee set.

I love the colours and the simple, floral graphic design. The pots are Seltmann Weiden porcelain from Germany and that's about as much as I know, not sure of the era despite the fact they look 70's.

Continuing the yellow theme. I have set aside today for baking as I'm preparing foodie gifts for some friends pressies.
I started blanching some citrus rinds yesterday ready to turn them into crystalised rinds dipped in chocolate.

It smelt like marmalade which I hate.
The rinds have now gone through the syrup stage and are spread out to air dry. Only one problem, I don't think there's anywhere warm enough in this house to get them all dried and crystalised and chocolate dipped for tomorrow when I deliver my gifts.

I tried to speed it up by putting it in the plate warming oven of the aga but that only seems to melt the syrup and make them sticky again! Oh well, they look pretty, I'll just have to keep my fingers crossed. If they are not ready I'll keep them and jar them for cake making. 
Off to roast spicy nuts now and make white chocolate truffles.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Solstice Greetings

So here we are again on the shortest day of the year and at the start of the new solar year. The Norse people celebrate Yule at this point in the year and look forward to the rebirth of the sun. I am also looking forward to those lengthening days again and that bit extra light and warmth to help me through the winter.

The painting is a watercolour I did quite a few years ago as a festive card illustration.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas jam done

Last week I read about microwave jam making on Lavender Attic's blog and I was quite intrigued as it sounded foolproof. Having only made jam once before, this summer, I thought it was worth a go and would make some nice festive pressies if it worked.

Here it is halfway through the microwaving and beginning to look and smell like jam!

All done and looking good so in the jars and fingers crossed it sets!

Ta dah! it set beautifully. I want to thank Sally at Lavender Attic for introducing me to this fantastic, simple way to successfully make jam. I'm converted! Here is the link to Sally's post with the recipe and details

I used a mixed pack of frozen fruit from the supermarket containing raspberries, blackberries, redcurrants & blackcurrants and I took inspiration from a more recent post of Sally's to add Port to make it festive. It has an intense colour and delicious flavour.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

New beakers and a gift

I have a couple of new drinking vessels. First off we have a retro melamine beaker from Paperchase with some very groovy graphics on it.

Here's the other side of the beaker and a cute Hello Kitty mug which was a real bargain at 99p from Home Bargains.

I received a festive gift in the post from a dear friend and she manages to find the most unusual gifts and wraps them so beautifully. I never want to spoil them by opening all the lovely ribbon and tissue but on the other hand it is such a joy. One pressie was intended for opening pre-Christmas as it contains something I may want to use.

Can you see what it is..... It is a Nutcracker cupcake decorating kit, wow the packaging looks like one of those mini theatres, it is so exquisite that I hope my buns will be worthy of using the figurines!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Spoonflower fabric used for candle lantern covers

This particular piece of Spoonflower fabric has arrived in time for me to make a few festive lantern gifts.

I used some of my artwork to make fabric lantern covers in a very simple way.

I made a rough paper template which would wrap around a standard drinks tumbler, a bit like those sleeves you get around coffee mugs. I then transferred that shape onto the computer & rejigged a selection of some of my festive designs into the template and managed to fit 7 of these shapes on a fat quarter.

Just a case of cutting them out and doing a small hem around the edges. Then as you'll see below I have attached a loop and button to the sides for keeping them attached around the glass.

Not sure if you can see on the photos but I stitched on a few small sparkly, glass beads into the sky area of the designs to see if the candle light will twinkle through.

All that remains is to pop a tea light candle into the glass and voila! you have an unusual festive fabric candle lantern. Being in a tall sided glass means they are good in a draught and quite safe too.