Thursday, 31 May 2012

In the garden.

We try to spend as much time in the garden as possible and we've just had some very nice, hot weather but this morning we got up to rain, which for the plants is no bad thing. But we've our fingers crossed for a drier day tomorrow as it's Hugo and Will's school sports day...

And finally some buns- Jenny and her girls dropped over and we enjoyed some buttery buns with little pics of crowns and flags and boats.

If you feel the urge to bake buns here is a simple and quick recipe:
Makes 12
125g butter, very soft
125g caster sugar
125g self raising flour
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Good splash full fat milk

1.      Preheat the oven to 200C/ gas mark 6. Line a bun tray with paper or silicone cases.
2.      Get a mixing bowl and weigh out the very soft butter and caster sugar and cream together until really well combined.
3.      Add the flour, the vanilla extract and the eggs. Add the good splash of milk. Give this all a good mix making sure it is smooth and lump free.
4.      Using a spatula scrape the mixture into each bun case trying to fill them evenly.
5.      Put the bun tray into the oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes. The buns will be golden and risen slightly. Wait until they cool a little before lifting them from the tray.
6.      Try not to scoff them all in one go. 

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Mark Hearld - Fox - Lithograph

On our walk this morning Belle, Pippin and myself came across two fox cubs playing in the sun. There was a surprised yelp from Mama Fox but no sign of her. The cubs were very nearly the size of Pip and they melted into the bushes in an instant. It was so lovely to catch a fleeting glimpse of them and they deserve their Irish name 'Madra Rua' or red dog as they were both red heads! I wonder will they grow up to be as fine a fellow as this chap? This lithograph is by Mark Hearld. Another person I sigh over... I recently came across some of his paper birds and now they're fluttering around my kitchen.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Uh, oh have just fallen in love...

Books For All

The Flour Dredger

I have loved Emily Sutton's work for quite some time and have the gorgeous Zillah Bell hanging in my kitchen but St. Judes Prints are in London and Emily has some fabulous new paintings and I want one... or five.Wail! It's just not fair. I came across her work in the World of Interiors magazine and totally love her style. It reminds me of Eric Ravilious and 'High Street ' which, by happy coincidence, arrived in the post last week. It's all too nice.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Woo hoo!! We had a day of sun!! For one glorious day we had proper summer weather (well, okay that's going a bit far but it scraped up to about 20C) so of course I lit the barbecue and we celebrated with sausages in the sunshine...

Kevin and I have just come back from a great and busy weekend in Norfolk with some good friends where we visited some lovely houses- first stop was Blickling Hall...

...then we moved onto Norwich Cathedral...

...and finally we ate here ... (which was yum!)
Looking at the millions of photos I took I am beginning to realise how utterly useless I am at taking pictures. You are seeing the best ones. Believe me. If you can stand the excitement I'll post more in the next day or two but now I need a Little Lie Down.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Not so merry, merry month of May...

It is still cold here and not showing much sign of summer weather, so there's nothing for it except to go into the wood shed, come out with an armful of logs and light the stove. And cook mushrooms on bread for lunch. Grandma arrived here yesterday with "home-bread" (ahhh, home bread...) so that came out of the bread-bin.Add some chestnut mushrooms to sizzling butter, salt and pepper and frazzle them for a bit. Pour over the bread allowing every buttery juicy bit to drip from the pan. Lunch for a not-so-nice day in May.

sizzling mushrooms

brown bread waiting... be covered in buttery mushroomy yummy-ness

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Righto, I did say that this blog would include recipes and I don't think one for a fruit cake is going to cut the mustard or whatever that saying is (and what the heck is that about anyway 'cutting mustard'??? answers on a postcard please...) So here's one for a yummy lemon tart without the tart... well, without the pastry, which is so handy because nine times out of ten I really can't be bothered with the faff of making it. This is from 'Bill's Basics' - by Bill Granger totally love that man! I think the only thing I tweaked was the amount of lemon juice and that was because my two lemons when squoozen (that is definitely the past tense of squeeze) didn't give me the 150ml required and it didn't make any difference. It really is yum and don't let my extremely very dodgy picture put you off.

You will need:
3 eggs
75g plain flour
230g caster sugar
125g unsalted butter, melted
zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
150ml lemon juice
300ml single cream

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas mark 4. Lightly grease a 20cm round springform tin. I have a silicone mould and used it for this and it worked a treat.
Whisk the eggs and then add in the flour bit by bit.
Add the caster sugar, butter, lemon zest and juice, cream and a pinch of sea salt and whisk well.
Pour into the tin and bake for 40-45 minutes, until slightly browned.
Leave in the tin to cool for 20 minutes before turning out.
Dust with icing sugar and Bob's your uncle.

The White Barn stall with jazzy background!

Phew! Just catching my breath after a busy weekend and a great first fair experience! Rossnaree was even bigger and better than last year as there was a huge circus-style tent on the lawn with lots and lots of stalls selling everything from vintage clothing, antiques, baby clothes, handmade jewellery and oh this really cool girl selling linocuts and vintage bunting and little paper birds... ho, ho. I really enjoyed the day and it was so lovely to get such positive feedback from people about my bits and bobs. I sold a good bit which was great. Thanks so much to my sister Mary and hubby-to-be Damien who visited all the way from Mayo, to Tia and Jimmy (friends from home) and Kevin and the boys who came to support me too- meant a lot to see your friendly faces! And to Jenny whose positive outlook and encouragement always helps... I know, I know, I'm not accepting an Oscar but it does mean a lot to me so THANKS!!

In the tent

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Time to stretch the legs and get outside...

Grey skies over a grey lake

bella Belle

Pippin and the puddle

As an antidote to sitting way too long surrounded by paper and books and lino cutting bits and bobs it's nice to get out of the house for a walk with the dogs. I usually walk them every day and we've a choice of 'down to the lake' or 'up the lane'. Today was a down to the lake kinda day- greyish skies and only a little warm in the sun but Belle didn't mind as she splashed around. Belle is what I call a 'ditch dog'- happy only when thrashing around in hedges and/or muddy ditches... Pippin on the other hand is way too prissy for that kind of messing about- she doesn't do lake water and really only does puddles at a push. She thinks she's a diamant√©-collar type of dog sadly trapped in a less than diamant√© existence (sigh, I know that feeling). Anyway today we were treated to a swan flyover -three great hulking birds honking away as they flew overhead- it really was magic to see their underbellies and hear the strong flap of their wings. Dogs were unimpressed.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Nearly there....

Am just in the middle of fiddling around with the layout of my table for the fair on Sunday and thought I'd share it... It's still a bit rough around the edges and my bunting is not displayed properly but... it's a beginning! I still have lots to do but I'm looking forward to it (although the bad dreams started last night- you know the stress ones where all your teeth fall out and you're naked and you're late for an exam and dying for the loo). Or maybe that's just me.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Tap, tap, tappity, tap....I feel a murder mystery coming on...

Kevin dug out his very ancient Remington typewriter which saw him through many a college essay and I'm (well he is, because my grasp of technology is so tenuous I really can't manage any actual manual keyboard, not to mention that ribbon) using it to type labels for my linocut collages. Have a look and see what you think. I've been busy making miles of bunting and little paper birds with vintage wings as well as the prints so fingers crossed for Sunday at the fair...

Running bird

Rupert the Bear bunting

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Isn't everybody's inner drive to be creative amazing? I don't just mean the all singing, all dancing creativity which makes for great artists, writers and musicians but the quiet creative force that's in all of us and which bubbles to the surface in so many different ways. Looking at the children I am constantly struck by this- Hugo (aged 9) has a great writing and poetic ability, Will (aged 5) has an urgent need to draw his experiences and is a mad comic book maker and Mide (aged 3) tells stories and generally makes a mess! With them it's just there without any of the baggage grown-ups attach to being creative. Exactly when on our journey do we become afraid and stop the make-and-do? I've been busy all week making bunting and printing lino-cuts and generally getting in a flap about the Rossnaree Fair and the boys have worked around my mess at the dining room table, giving words of encouragement (thankfully). But I just had to show Will doing a spot of well, I don't quite know what you'd call it... He has all his doctor set laid out on the table and he is using his "Maltweezers" (no joke, it's darn hard to tweeze with a Malteezer!) to lift white and blue blood cells from a bucket of water. Needless to say these are not real blood cells- he used drawing pins with coloured plastic tops and I know blood cells don't come in blue but I think if you stretch back our blood lines there is royalty in there somewhere... He's wearing goggles on his head just to be on the safe side and a massive grin as he finally lifts a blood cell from the watery depths- honestly this game lasted all day-the creative mind at work! So let that bit of creative genius out once in a while-it might surprise you-and let me know how you get on...