Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Grey Blue

I finally dragged my paints out and blew off the dust with the intention of painting one teeny tiny minuscule canvas that has been floating around the house for a few weeks. As if anything could ever be so simple as just getting my paints out and painting, oh no nothing so simple as that. When I dragged out my pallet I found that two paintings that I had done awhile ago had been ruined, there was mold on them and I was not the happiest of campers. I cleaned them up as best I could and decided to attempt to re paint them while I had everything out. the result is the above painting, and if you look closely you can see a shinny patch on the bottom half. Its not my photography, though I'm sure there is that too but the stain leaked through again so the painting will have to be binned. Which is a shame because I quite liked it. The stain? well I flipped the painting over and sniffed the back, as you do, eau de upside down packet of wet wipes left to fester while we were in Idaho.

the second painting to be redone is the one just below and it had less damage done to it so I'm hopeful it will be OK. The painting is just abstract, as most of my paintings usually end up being, perhaps something to do with me being left handed, perhaps not. The painting is actually more of a grey scale than the image below.

the third smaller painting I'm not happy with, I think I lost it after trying to salvage the first two. Later this afternoon we are supposed to go up into the attic to finally put the suitcases away after tripping over them for 3 weeks. Oh and its the ritual getting down of the x-mas boxes to see what has mouldered and how horrendously the lights are tangled if they even light anymore. ahh tis the season.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Dragonfly Scarf

Its not much to look at but I just finished knitting this little scarf last night, made with Noro Silk Garden, its a simple knit skinny scarf with obvious tassely bits on the ends. I fell in love with the wool and just had to make something with it and other than the coffee cup warmer! I wore it today but didn't quite have the nerve to take my picture wearing it. On my needles now is a grey and white spiders web scarf, and um that's about it but I do need to work on my stash and I have set myself the goal of learning to knit a simple lace design this week, we shall see how well that goes.

Oh and H wants a red scarf to match his red and black winter coat, and I want to get a bigger set of circular needles and attempt to knit a hat again, perhaps this time it wont go diabolically wrong. and I want to make some wrist warmers, though I'm not sure what wool and who for.

Putting aside the knitting for now I have some canvases that are in desperate need of a repaint, and first paint on a few, and also need homes for some of them so if I get brave enough I might put one up for sale or trade in the next few weeks. *fingers crossed and brave face on*

Friday, 23 November 2007

Mandarin Cheesecake

Mandarin Cheesecake


3 pkg. (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened1 pkg.

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp. grated mandarin zest (2 mandarins)

juice of 2 mandarins

1 teaspoon vanilla

for the base:

12 biscuits (digestive buiscuits or grahm crackers. makes roughly 1½ cups crumbs)

2 tablespoons melted butter

Crush the biscuits and add the melted butter. Mix well and press firmly into a 8-inch pie pan. Pat down using the base of a glass. Place in fridge for 30 minutes to set.

While the base is setting. Mix together cream cheese, zest, juice (you can put the juice in to your personal taste depending on the size of the mandarins used, alternatively it could be made with tangerines, or any citrus fruit ) sugar, using a wooden spoon or electric mixer. Pour the cheese mixture over the base and spread evenly. Put cheesecake in the fridge for at least 4 hours to set, preferably overnight.

cooks notes: Its a very quick cheesecake recipe but the result is a very fresh and delicately citrus flavoured cheesecake. I suppose you could make a baked cheesecake version, but it would loose the light consistency and be a much denser cake and I think that the mandarins had such a lovely flavour that to have bake the cake would have taken away from the fresh citrus-y taste. I took the cheesecake to a dinner party last night and it good rather good reviews off my friends, definitely a keeper recipe. The recipe is my own based on my key lime pie recipe.

Banana and Coconut Muffins

Banana Coconut Muffins


2 cups self-raising flour
3/4 cup caster sugar
½ cup milk
1 egg
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 medium sized freckled bananas
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

pre-heat oven to 400F.

Place paper baking cups into a muffin tin, or grease and flour the muffin cups. In a medium bowl place the banana and mash it with a fork, add the flour, sugar, milk, egg, butter, coconut, and vanilla and mix well, the batter will be quite thick and lumpy ( for a smoother consistency feel free to use an electric mixer though I mixed it by hand). Divide the batter evenly among muffin cups filling them about two thirds full. Sprinkle the cups with a small amount of sugar or oats or a little desiccated coconut if desired. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from the pan. Enjoy while still warm or wait for them to cool.

cooks notes: I made these muffins because I had to rather freckled and browning bananas that were at the state of needing to be used in something or composted. I thought it was better to use them. They turned out very light a fluffy, very cake like in consistency, H thought they were brilliant at least. They were a nice alternative to the normal banana nut muffins I usually make that have pecans cinnamon and brown sugar. Most cakes and muffins that call for the use of banana work much better with freckled and over ripe bananas when they are at their sweetest ( and no one else will eat them so they will just sit in the fruit bowl until petrified or they carry themselves to the garbage.)

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy thanksgiving everyone! Today is a busy day as H and I are off to play for the day and I'm going to a dinner out this evening, which I need to bring a dessert to, I'm thinking cheesecake, not traditional thanksgiving fair, but I have the ingredients for it, cream cheese sugar, and lemons and mandarins, not sure which flavour to make. Its not a thanksgiving dinner just a girls night that got moved to a thursday. As M has been poorly this past week with a migraine I thought I would transfer a thanksgiving type meal to sunday instead when he has no work and I can barricade myself in the kitchen for a few hours. I honestly forgot it was thanksgiving, possibly becuse it has no meaning here, and is just an afterthought on a calender page, just another day.

If we are at my parents house for the holiday it would be turkey with sausage stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, squash, apple pie, vegtables all the good stuff. Except for pumpkin pie, we are not pumpkin pie people never have been. Since living in england I have done thanksgiving a bit less formal a dinner affair, for starters I have never cooked a whole turkey, I'm sure my father is shaking his head for the shame of it. Normally I just cook a turkey breast, which is plenty big enough, and stuffing, mashed potatoes (sometimes with chedder cheese), sweet potatoes with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and maple syrup, and apple pie and ice cream for dessert. hmm I think I probably need to go shopping as all i have are some potoatoes.

Happy Turkey Day

Monday, 19 November 2007

Peanut Butter Cookies

2 1/2 cups self raising flour

1 cup butter

1 cup granulated white sugar

1 cup light brown soft sugar

2 eggs

1 cup peanut butter

Cream the butter and sugars together in a large mixing bowl with electric beaters until fluffy. Beat the eggs in one at a time. Add the Peanut butter and beat at a low speed until blended then slowly mix in the self raising flour.

cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for up to two hours.

preheat the oven to 375 F.

shape the dough into 1 inch balls spaced roughly 3 inches apart. With a floured fork flatten the cookies in a crisscross pattern. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the edges just begin to brown.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool. If making more than one batch of cookies its best to put the dough into the fridge between batches or it becomes to sticky to work with.

enjoy with a glass of milk or nice cuppa

cooks notes: I haven't made peanut butter cookies in a very long time, the above recipe is my interpretation and I think it worked pretty well. I used Tesco's own brand of peanut butter which worked well but by far the best peanut butter is Jiff it has the best taste and texture over other cheaper brands. I used the tesco's peanut butter because that is all I had in the house, tomorrow is shopping day.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Marie Claire Magazine Craft Challenge

Today I bought a Marie Clair Magazine and attached to it was a free canvas bag with the slogan 'Plastic Ain't My Bag' all well and good, save the environment little by little. But for a lack of anything better to do I thought I would decorate the blank back of the canvas tote. Not that I don't have plenty of things I could have been doing tonight but due to extenuating circumstances I was not going to get anything done tonight. M has a migraine and is curled up in bed since yesterday and Lucky me the fuse for the downstairs lights has blown and I'm stuck with a dull reading lamp and assortment of candles to light my way. I'm not ironing by candle light, I can't paint as I intended as its too dark so I got out the MC bag and a fabric pen and entertained myself. I suppose I could be watching tv as the wall sockets work but there really isn't anything on that I want to watch.

The pictures are shoddy as the flash on the camera is only small and next to useless, but I'm quite happy with the result. If anyone actually reads this blog and Marie Claire Magazine, and also crafts, possibly a very small niche, I think its a quick little project to get your imagination going. So go on give the little hamster a kick to his wheel. All you need is the magazine with the free bag, and a fabric pen or permanent marker pen.

Willow Tree Bag

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Home Sweet Home

Its good to be on holiday but its nice to be back home again. The flight back was as close to blis as long distance flights can be. The flight was half empty and we got two rows to ourselves, there was a strong tail wind that chopped off over an hours flight time, H slept for the magority of the flight and I actually got to watch 2 movies with BA's new multimedia entertainment touchscreen. Our luggage came through quickly, and the drive from heathrow to Derby was relatively painless. Now its just jetlag to deal with, oh and unpacking, but I'll save that for tommorow, now its time to put a tv show on and relax. I love sky+ !!!

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Caffeinated In Seattle

So we are homeward bound now, in Seattle till Monday evening when we fly back home to England. Its been a really great visit to my parents despite H having learned a plethora of swear words, than you very much pappy and grammy. My sweet three year old is now a devilish four year old, ok he wasn't that sweet before and he isn't that terrible now, aside from having learned how to swear a blue streak. I wonder if I can get away with telling everyone he has developed tourettes?

We have been to the Science Fiction Museum and the Music Experience as well as Ride the ducks ( I think) . the museum was great, and not just for geeks and trekkies, trekkers whatever your predilection. Ride the Ducks is a definite must for Seattle, it was a great tour and H got worried for a second when the bus drove into the lake! Off to go get some more coffee and watch The Wizard of Oz as you do. Though I have the strangest desire to watch Buck Rodgers!

Thats all for now, more post sometime soon when home safe and sound, and aflicted with a jet-lagged 4 year old. I also want to say thank you to my parents for feeding us, providing us with a place to sleep, and copious amounts of babysitting! Thank you!