Monday, 31 December 2012

For some, a New Year starts with the overhanging threat of Resolutions, horrid things designed to induce guilt when the inevitable happens and you fail to lose weight or stop drinking or get fit or do the hundred-and-one other things we somehow think are a fitting way to begin afresh. I will be trying the following

  • each day eat good, home-made, thoughtful food, but maybe just a little less of it than before
  • eat less meat and more vegetables and raw foods
  • drink a glass of wine, especially in the company of my loved ones
  • enjoy the fact that we live among beautiful softly rounded hills which, if walked up and down, are better than any gym
  • do one small act of kindness a day
  • re-connect with friends I haven't seen or spoken to in a while
  • read more good books & poems and feel no pressure to read the best-sellers just because everyone else has
  • write more letters, especially ones of thanks and love
  • buy at least one painting or thing of beauty that will be cherished every time I see it
  • be thankful for what I have-my husband and boys, our friends, family, home, food on the table and warm fireside, curtains to close against the dark and cold, the thump of wagging tails and doggy breath
  • think more about what I say, especially before I criticise others 
I think if I achieve even a little of the above 2013 will be a good year! Happy New Year to you!

This lovely lady is by Jenny Meilihove and she pretty much sums me up!

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Yesterday passed in a whirlwind of excitement and gifts and discarded wrapping paper. And a considerable amount of time was spent in the kitchen too, where turkey and ham reigned supreme, along with Stilton and port and Christmas pudding and cake...
Today, thankfully, is calmer. The boys are playing with their new toys and we're relaxing by the fire, enjoying our gifts. I was lucky enough to receive a beautiful Angie Lewin print "Teabowl and Bracken" and a lovely bracelet from Helen Shere. For me, the best presents were home-made or hand-made, the ones which spoke of considered thought and careful preparation. At this busy time of year I especially appreciate the extra effort that it involves. Thank you for all the kindnesses we received!
Angie Lewin - Teabowl and Bracken
"Teabowl and Bracken" 
Just thought I'd show the handmade tiles around the cooker. They come from The Shop Floor Project and are just gorgeous!

Friday, 21 December 2012

Some images from around the house this Christmas...

Christmas Wreath- all fresh foliage, ivy and berries
The garden- brown and grey but still, in its own way, totally lovely
An early-opened Christmas present from a dear friend- thank you Rebecca- I LOVE these painted bunnies!
Unfinished Christmas cake- I make two for a lady in the village up the road. Hers are decorated with white stars and are waiting for their festive ribbon before being delivered.
Another lady, Rembrandt's wife, a gorgeous painting from Joan Hannon - a Moth artist

 The dining room stove
Decorations and dinner plates
My garden wren linocut/collage- the only handmade gifts made by me this Christmas but next year, hopefully, I will be more organised!
Happy Christmas everyone!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Well Santa Baby you sure do cause a kerfuffle. Every year, without fail, I have a huff over the whole fiasco and swear blind that next year I will hand-make every, single gift. And every year, without fail, I do not. Every year I swear blind I will be organised. And every year I am not. Every year, without fail,  I swear blind I'll make mincemeat and the cake in November. And every year, without fail, I do not. But the tree is up, the house is decorated, the Santa letters have been sent, the cards have been posted, the cake is baking as I type scenting the house with the smell of Christmas and there's only a handful of presents still to buy... We are looking forward to the real meaning of Christmas- spending some time altogether in peace and harmony, snuggling on the sofa with books, movies and the fire for company.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Someone turned forty the other day. Someone doesn't mind this at all. Someone had a fantastic family day with children in Dublin city as well as dinner with close friends. Then someone enjoyed a grown up day in London with some of my favourite people. That someone was me.

We saw the amazing bronze exhibition here. Loved it.

We ate here. I managed to squeeze in fried squid, prawns, courgette & lemon, orecchiette with 'nduja, red onion and rocket, partridge with roast potatoes, espresso gelato...and wine.

Pollock's Pantomime Character Wrapping Paper
We shopped here and here (was so excited to finally visit this shop!) and finally here. It was all amazing and I can't wait to see what this decade brings!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Ever have those heart aching, flash-back to childhood moments? Well, I am having such a moment. I remember, as a child, having a paper/cardboard dolls house with the façade removed allowing a full uninterrupted view into the house's interior... I vaguely remember my older sister doing a lot of the constructing of this house as it came as a flat pack. Anyway it was full of detail from maids and coal scuttles to children in their nursery (think Victorian three storey town house). And then I found these sweet toy paper theatres and oh my breaking heart I love them...Santa if you're reading this you know what to do...

Spanish Theatre
Pollocks Diorama Card
Christmas Toy Theatre Card
Pantomime Theatre with Cinderella
Dickens Theatre with Great ExpectationsNutcracker Theatre Card

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Gary Bunt | (04) The Attic

Gary Bunt | (15) Widgeon

Gary Bunt | (07) Synchronicity
Just found Gary Bunt's wonderful naive paintings of English life through The Portland Gallery- aren't they lovely? I especially love the view from that bedroom window and the painted furniture and as for those deliciously plump fishermen in their orange oilskins...

Ah yes, the bonkers but hilarious world of David Fullarton. When I saw his work for the first time I had trouble breathing from laughing so hard. Some of it (well, most of it) is for the Grown Ups so look away now if you are of a nervous disposition, dislike Bad Words or have no sense of humour...

Sunday, 18 November 2012

It’s been a quiet Sunday. I've relished the dark dankness of today and stayed in the warm embrace of the kitchen. After a busy week sometimes the thought of spending a day cooking seems too much and then other-times, like now, it seems to soothe and comfort. So today chicken and leek pie with a rich pastry and a tangy lemon cake took most of my time, but it was time given gladly. The boys played and watched TV and listened to music and squabbled and generally behaved like three boys should. And all the while I chopped and sautéed and stirred and grated and roasted until the pie filling was made and the pastry was chilling in the fridge. As I write now I am guarding the lemon cake. With two dogs in their basket in the kitchen I can never rest easy while cake is cooling for fear that the temptation might be too much. A while ago I read someone write about a dog line - a zone above which things were safe from doggy investigation and below which they most certainly were not. I have yet to fully establish where this line is in my own kitchen, hence the watchfulness.

Hello Winter. Time to snuggle up!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Don't you just love men in pants? And I think those chaps behind are possibly in tights too. Ah, bliss. And I'm not the only one. I recently met a very nice lady whose secret passion was Sumo wrestling. Ahem. These are by Alice Pattullo and to be honest I love so much of her work I wouldn't know what to choose...

And now Parish Notes:
22 November brings the launch of Rebecca O'Connor's collection of poems We'll sing Blackbird at the Moth in Cavan town.
2 December is the Christmas Fair at the Moth Studio with art/craft/gifts and mince pies galore. Sure what more could you ask for?
Just in time for present buying and all things tinselly the lovely Emma Franks is now selling limited edition prints of her paintings here.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

dompteuse nani
une abeille dans ma tasse
Oh yes, please! I would love these in my home. This little moment of pleasure was brought to you by Clothilde Staes - so chic, so French, so now I need that turquoise teapot to make my life complete... 

Saturday, 3 November 2012

William is six!!
It's amazing what you do for love... yesterday I turned a perfectly good chocolate cake into a skull cake with copious quantities of icing all because a five, soon-to-be six year old declared that would be "the best cake to have...." and yes, watching his face this morning as he opened his presents and seeing his excitement over the very dodgy cake made the destruction totally okay. Almost.
Happy sixth birthday Will- we love you and are loving watching you grow up!!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Happy Hallowe’en everyone! We’re celebrating tonight with spicy pumpkin soup, rich beef in Guinness and cinnamon plum tart-how’s that for late autumn on a plate? Later on, when it’s spooky and the shadows are long and eerie, we will light a small outdoor fire to toast marshmallows and see who is brave enough to run around the garden in the dark....

This is a recipe of my mum’s- it’s fairly quick and easy and always gets an enthusiastic welcome!
Cinnamon Plum Tart
6oz plain flour
3oz butter, chopped into small cubes
Half a pint cream/sour cream
3 egg yolks
1oz caster sugar
½ teaspoon mixed spice
1 lb dessert plums
2oz brown sugar
Teaspoon cinnamon
Heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. You need a tart tin with removable base- about 21cm.
Make the pastry by lightly rubbing the butter into the flour until you have something resembling fine breadcrumbs. Then bring together with some ice cold water- just a few drops at a time, trying not to overwork the pastry with your hands. Roll out the pastry on a well floured board and line the tart tin. In a jug mix the cream, egg yolks, caster sugar and mixed spice. Wash and halve the plums, taking out the stones. Pour the cream mix into the uncooked pastry lined tart tin and lay the plums in, cut side up. Put into the oven and cook for about 25-30 minutes. Then take out and sprinkle on the brown sugar and the cinnamon. Turn up the oven temperature to 200C/gas 6 and continue cooking for a further 20 minutes approx. until the tart is lightly golden and the custard is set. 



These lovely photos are from a recent trip to Castle Ward near Strangford Lough. It was such a lovely day spent in great company with family and included a hearty picnic in the sunshine followed by a big walk-bliss!