Saturday, 23 June 2012

Chasing my tail

Trying to do everything - now.
Wishing I hadn't left everything until the last minute.
As usual.

A scarf for Art Trail
That is too scratchy to wear and so has now been chopped up...

Some unfinished cuffs

The usual rummaging around wondering if a reject is cut up it could be salvaged?

Maybe a stick would help? 

 And the obligatory embellishing session in lieu of housework.

As usual, it's a case of do as I say not as I do and my students have triumphed.  Just have a look at these!

Jane H


Carole (work in progress)

and Caroline - and Caroline has only just started machine embroidery three classes ago!  What a superstar.

Why the hurry to do everything?  Why the running out of time?  Surely Art Trail is at the end of July? 
Ah yes, but the Girl is going to France on a school trip next week.....methinks her parents aren't going to be kicking their heels around an empty house all week wondering whether to pull her curtains or not and wondering why it's so quiet and echoey, and they may go and enjoy a little holiday of their own...after all, they've not been on holiday without child for ELEVEN YEARS. 

Just don't tell the Girl.  As long as we're back to meet her ferry on Friday we're good....

Saturday, 16 June 2012

We did a Bad Thing...

I made a cake for the cake stall at the summer "fayre".
I used all the really naughty ingredients, like white flour and white sugar...
No vegetables were harmed in the making of said cake,
not a wholegrain to be seen.
I even sandwiched the cake with butter cream and blueberry jam.

Let's face it, this cake looked good. 
Naughty but good, a cake enigma.

Reader, we ate it:

There were some mumblings about maybe taking it to school with a "sold" label on it, giving them the money and bringing it straight back home....

But why go to all the trouble? 
Just have a few rounds of tombola and lucky dip, buy an icecream,
and let's just keep this very fine cake at home where it clearly belongs...

Monday, 11 June 2012

Ingredients for a happy birthday

First, you need to wrestle with the knotty problem
of whether to throw a party or not

If the answer is YES! Then you need to work out ALL the details,
such as how to make things look festive

suitable party activities*,
how to smuggle in the party food and accessories...

make some bunting,
string up some fairy lights

post the invitation

and settle back to enjoy the party,
maybe even have a bit of a dance.

On the morning of the Actual Birthday (which by lucky chance is an INSET day)
there's the unwrapping of some fabulous presents

and the emergency dash to the supermarket with pyjamas under jeans to buy blueberries so that the Birthday Girl can bake the cake recipe she's spent three days researching and refining (but forgot to check she had blueberries in the freezer to make it)

And finally, you can admit that yes - polenta and almond and lemon and blueberry and mascarpone is a VERY good combination and no, Mummy hasn't lost her marbles putting polenta in a cake, and yes, please may I have seconds. 

Lemon & Blueberry Polenta Cake

250g soft butter
250g caster sugar
3 eggs
100g polenta**
200g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp almond extract
2 lemons - zest of both, juice of one
200g blueberries
  • Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one by one with the almond extract
  • Sprinkle over the baking powder, then fold in the polenta, almonds, zest and juice
  • Spread into a buttered 23cm springform tin, with baking parchment on the bottom.
  • Sprinkle the blueberries on top, and poke them in
  • Bake 150C (fan oven) or 160C normal oven for 1 hour, test with skewer
  • Leave to cool in tin for a few minutes, then turn out carefully onto a rack - line it with kitchen towel to soak up some of the buttery juices.
This is a very moist, very buttery delicious confection - wonderful served warm with a dollop of mascarpone.  I haven't a clue what it is like when cold, because we just got stuck right in...I'll let you know!

* Luckily the Best Dress competition was cancelled - I wouldn't have stood a chance because I ended up attending the party wearing my dog-walking trousers.

**I used coarse polenta, because that's what I had.  Fine or medium may be less gritty, but there's been no complaints so far...

Friday, 8 June 2012

Busy doing nothing

Just watching the sparrows devouring my pea plants

trying to ignore the Whippet's demands for attention

"Oh PLEASE Mum can I sit on your lap?"

"Great!  I do fold up small, I won't be any trouble..."

Shame about the slightly ridiculous ears....

And what better way to spend a half-term than sorting the Playmobil for storage.  The two cousins are too young for it at the mo, being 5 months and unborn respectively.  Well, I'm sure the Girl could think of many alternative occupations for a rainy half-term, but tough - someone had to reunite all the people with their hats and swords and diving helmets and so on, and only the Girl knows what belongs to whom....

And with the Girl suitably occupied, I dug out the embellisher and started to try some more ideas for Art Trail.  I remember this from last year - the panic beginning about now, short deadlines etc - the embellisher is definitely the answer!

Bracelet Idea 1.

Bracelet Idea 2. 
A sort of wraparound bracelet.  I'm trialling it as I's certainly warm around the wrist, maybe good for rheumatism?

And then late last night, I cracked how to make wired fabric petals

And made a flower....

I haven't worked out what to do with it yet, because today was spent out and about with the Girl.  We went to Lewes and found TREASURE in Oxfam:

And after lunch we went for a walk in the woods, just to hear the racket with the wind walloping through the trees.  There were lots of lovely sticks, so I had to bring some home:

Gosh, that little arrangement makes me so happy.  Why do I have a compulsion to collect sticks (and fabric)?  If it had been a beach walk, I would have brought back shells or pebbles...

The lovely lovely block printed fabric was from the India Shop.  It cost slightly less in Oxfam than it does online.   There was sparkly sari fabric too, but I resisted...

Here are all the different patterns in the pack

Now what?!  Just look at it, drool a little...

Tuesday, 5 June 2012


No, it's not a can of beer - it's a Pimms and our musical jubilee biscuit tin that plays God Save the Queen!

Cheers to Her Majesty, and cheers to the end of a difficult week.

I thought I was going to visit the Prism exhibition on Friday, and then demonstrate FOIL at our EG branch on Saturday, so I'd been working hard getting together my ideas and samples and packs of foil:

But then instead of catching a train to London on Friday, I had to catch a train to Cardiff.  Arrive 12.30, meet mother, sister and nephew and drive another two hours to get to a memorial service for my Uncle Brian in Llansadwrn - middle of nowhere, but a beautiful nowhere.  My Uncle Bri was only diagnosed with motor neurone disease a few months ago, and for his life to end so abruptly has been a huge shock to Mamgu and the family.  He wasn't my "real" uncle, sort of a step-uncle, but an uncle nevertheless and I felt I had to go.  Apart from my Mother, who died very young, and a long time ago, Uncle Brian is the first of that generation to go and that takes some getting used to.  The service was very dignified and appropriate, with Welsh rugby hymns and then tea and cake in the local pub.  For any of you teachers out there, if you were ever OFSTEDed by a Brian Evans, that was my Uncle!

So back to Cardiff overnight, a train back to London Saturday morning, and then on my way to see the Prism exhibition before it finished I bumped into these chaps:

Hurrah!  I love London and I love being British - wandering down the Mall and just "bumping into" the King's Troop and the Life Guards.

After a thoroughly nice time at the exhibition, including a long sit-down in the cafe to listen to the booming of a 41 gun salute echoing over from Horse Guards Parade, it is crustimoney proseedcake to toddle up to FortnumsVery occasionally, when Mr G has been busy writing and not cycling, we've received large cheques from the Queen's grocers and so we like to support them when we can.  Hence the musical biscuit tin that plays God Save the Queen!

Finally back home, the Girl and I did a spot of baking to while away a wet Sunday watching the boats:

And then last night we watched the lighting of the town's new beacon, which appeared at the playing fields last week much to the amusement of local children who started using it as a giant basketball goal:

Once the beacon was lit we jumped in the car with the Boy and ventured out to the Forest to see all the beacons lit across the ridge of the South Downs. 


(While I've been writing this, the Girl has been picking out the tune to the Gary Barlow song on the piano...something tells me we haven't heard the last of that one...)