Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Weather Good, Life Bad!

What a rubbish week I'm having, it seems so unfair as the weather is beautiful outside and would normally lift my spirits.
The trouble with working on your own is not having other work colleagues to let steam off with when life starts playing nasty tricks.
So the blog is a good place for that.

Since about a month ago there have been noises in the loft, and unfortunately it's mice, one of my pet hates, as is any pest when it's in the wrong environment and in my living space. What with the 2 wasps nests, the revolting spiders in this place and now the mice, I've had enough. We have been setting traps and so far have caught 9 which is more than when they were here 2 years ago. The problem with the mice, even if you wipe them out the house has so many holes, gaps and places they could return that there's not much you can do and especially when it's not my house. I feel like I can't go away for a few days even if I want to incase they get out of hand or worse get in amongst my craft stuff which would be the absolute worst thing.

Anyway pests aside, yesterday was a nightmare, an unexpectedly power cut off happened at 7am and was off for 8 hours, so stopping work. My mobile was also dead so I was completely cut off from the digital world so I headed off for the library to use a computer, not great as I'm a Mac user and they only have pc's. 

I didn't bother with any work when the power came back last night so it was this morning when I discovered another problem. Despite having a power surge socket on my computer, the force of the power cut yesterday has done something to my work Mac and I've not been able to use it all day, infact the disk may be damaged and typically there's not been a backup for quite some time. Great, just when I've got loads of urgent jobs to get finished!

An hour since the last paragraph and my Mac expert has dissected the disk and we have some life and have managed to do a backup. Not sure how stable the computer is after all this and maybe when it gets turned off it won't come on again but won't know til tomorrow!

Signing off for coffee fix now!

Monday, 26 September 2011

In My Mug 150, live at The Attic, Harlequin, York

Yesterday was my exciting coffee afternoon at the Attic as part of the live video blog for In My Mug 150 with Mr. Has Bean.
The scene was all set, the laptop was in the corner, sampling table set up with plenty of water and Gordon and the team raring to go pulling shots.

It wasn't without one or two technical hitches for Has Bean, not being able to link up to as many people & shops as first planned but Steve made the best of it.

The coffees we were sampling were Indonesian....  Jantung Seed and Longberry, really rare coffee with only 3 bags of each varietal in the world, wow!

First we tried them as espresso (2nd pic), then with milk (3rd pic) and we gave our comments and tasting notes which in turn were submitted live to Steve. It was a great experience, my tastebuds are nowhere near as sophisticated as some of the people round the table but I did enjoy the experience very much.

After the main part we got to try them as brewed coffees with some lovely cakey nibbles.
Fab afternoon thanks to Has Bean, Gordon and the gang and met some lovely coffee obsessed people. We even got to take home some of the surplus beans from the tasting.

The 4th pic is my latte art as I'm sat typing this!

The 5th pic shows an old teapot I found in a charity shop the other day which I have been trying to clean up for use with the water pouring over the Chemex. However had a word with Gordon and as a cheaper solution for water pouring to the expensive Hario kettles he recommended a simple oil pourer and I sourced the last one in Barnitts!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Exciting coffee happenings

Last week I bought a new coffee making device. It is the Chemex, a wonderful, retro looking object (been around over 60 years) for making a fine, clean cup of brewed coffee.

Don't you think the box and the instruction leaflet look very 70's!

The Chemex method is very similar to drip through coffee, using a filter paper but the filter paper is much thicker. This means the brew flows through slower for a richer cup of coffee, you are only talking about 4 minutes brew time. Unlike a french press where the sediment is sat in the bottom, this produces a 'clean cup' as the grinds are sat in the top to be thrown away.

This photo shows the coffee at the 'bloom' stage before you add the remaining water. (All the coffee and water need measuring and timing to achieve perfection)

Here, the remaining water has been added and you simply wait for it to filter through.

That's it, pour and enjoy!

On the subject of coffee geekery, I am attending what's going to turn into a live video blog link up on Sunday. A selection of coffee shops & customers who use the Has Bean coffee have been invited to join in this event of sampling some rare coffee. During the coffee sampling, the shops taking part (Harlequins Attic York), will be connected to Steve at Has Bean, as he addresses the world on all things coffee for this special edition of his video blog! In My Mug 150. Can't wait.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Scarborough & Sledmere exhibition

It was a lovely misty but bright morning so had an early start in Scarborough. The mist soon burnt off and it was sun and blue skies all the way.
One of the cliffs in the distance looked lovely with mist still surrounding it, sort of looked like it was shrouded in dry ice.

The donkeys were still on the beach, doing their thing.

It was really quite warm. Lovely blue sky over the Grand Hotel, and the gardens and architecture looked great.

I couldn't resist this next picture, I used to love Sooty, I had a Sooty puppet and a Sue but didn't get a Sweep and  I wanted a Sweep because it had a squeeker in it! This looked like quite an old machine down by the amusements.
Don't worry I didn't embarrass myself and have a go!

Scarborough done with by lunchtime and came home via Sledmere to visit the touring exhibition of litho prints by Matisse, Chagall & Miro. Particularly enjoyed the Matisse paper cuts and the Miro but despite being prints they were hugely expensive. 

By the afternoon it was chucking it down and we've had a few ripples of thunder too.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Spoonflower fabric parcel

I had a large bundle of Spoonflower fabric arrive yesterday. It seems like ages since I ordered at the end of July.

The top picture shows a selection of samples, the cream background leaf fabric is for sale on Folksy. The bottom picture is my Halloween Skirt kit which is child sized and this one will go to my friends little girl as a birthday cum Halloween pressie as she seems to like all things ghoulish and vampires!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Bird fabric designs

This weeks Spoonflower contest is the very popular subject of birds. It has a restricted colour palate of 3 colours (black, white & pale green) plus one of your own choice.
I wanted to enter this contest with one of my little bird illustrations which I use on some of my own promotional things and greeting card designs.

I created quite a few variations. The bottom design is a more stylised, Scandinavian inspired design. I then moved back to my original idea of using my favourite bird illustration and couldn't decide whether to use the design with the hearts and the eggs, or the hearts and the flowers. After many colour combinations I settled on the top design.

Chances are very slim this week for even coming in the top 100 as there are 342 entries, which be warned if you go looking, take ages to click through. There are some really lovely designs in the collection.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

My best ever Spoonflower contest result!

I've been excited all day because this evening was the result of the Spoonflower contest and when I got up this morning I received an email from Spoonflower saying congratulations I had come in the top 10 for this weeks contest.

I still had to wait until this evening to find out where in the top 10 and I'm so happy to have come 4th, only about 30 votes separated 2nd place to 4th place and the winner was a clear winner with twice as many votes. 

Lovely winning fabric. I'm so pleased to make it in the top 10, a first for me.

Not been a bad day because went to see one of my old customers in Bridlington who wanted to talk to me about their new business venture (hush hush at the mo), but lets just say it involves veggie food, good coffee & creative things... I think that about sums up all the things I like too!

And, lovely people that they are, I left with arms full of stuff, baking, local apple juice and cook books.

Really looking forward to designing their new branding.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Blustery in Hornsea today

I was at the dentist today in Hornsea, goodness me it was windy & wet. I was crossing a road at a junction when a gust of wind came from nowhere and nearly took me into the air.
After a chat with the dentist, mad Scotsman, and a quick dropping off (not buying for once) of some stuff to the charity shop I went down to the prom to see the sea.

It was a stormy sky with a black band of cloud, the tide was coming in, the North Sea was very muddy close to shore as it crashed in but there was a hint of blue on the horizon. I couldn't resist going on the beach to chase waves and get my feet wet!

I finished up with an ice cream, well you have to don't you as it's the seaside, it was nice but the cone as you can see was one of those cheap tasteless ones.

Monday, 5 September 2011

This weeks Spoonflower contest

The subject for this weeks Spoonflower fabric design contest is Bowling and it didn't really grab my attention at first. But at the last minute I had an idea for a design which is taking the theme bowling fairly loosely and adding a bit of artistic license!

Somehow bowling balls reminded me of atoms (goodness knows why!), atoms lead to atomic and then before I knew where I was I was doing a very rough scribble on my Wacom of a 1950's inspired atomic fabric.

I've created it in a few colour options, the one I have entered into the contest is the pale coloured one bottom right.
Oddly enough, to say I threw it together very quickly, I seem to be getting some lovely favourable comments from the Spoonflower community and I'm quite pleased with it so I reckon I will get some samples printed.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Japanese Paper Beads

I got some lovely, but quite expensive, origami paper in Hobbycraft. I haven't risked any on a folded creation yet but I have rolled a few bits and made some paper beads. These are the results. I am trying them on Ebay to see if there's any interest. 

I've made paper beads before and they do make nice delicate bracelets.