Thursday, 31 January 2008

spring breeze earrings

Inspired by my findings in the garden I've been feeling as though spring is on it's way and celebrated by making some earrings with some freshwater pearls and Czech glass beads. I've got the jewelry-making bug really bad! You should see how my bead collection has grown. :-O

I might have to start selling things to justify it!!

I've also been having a bit of a spring clean including here on the blog and I decided to change my banner. Can't get enough of turquoise at the moment. What am I talking about... I've never been able to get enough of turquoise! It's all to do with holidays in Cornwall, gazing at the Atlantic ocean. Bliss!

Have a good weekend everyone!! :-)

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

mr sparrow lino print

I thought I'd share this lino print with you that I did a while ago but never got around to posting. It's called Mr Sparrow and is inspired by the house sparrows that nest in next door's roof! There is a little gap by the drain pipe and they happily raise their young in there. Then they spend the rest of their time in the spiky berberis bush keeping an eye on what's going on and the local cat before eating seeds from the feeder.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Look what I found in the garden!!!

Isn't it a bit early for this? But such a breath of fresh air and so cheerful. It's been very warm here the last few days (14 degrees c yesterday). The birds have even started singing.

The winter flowering heather is still going strong too.

Hope you all had a good weekend. Bye for now :-)

Wednesday, 23 January 2008


I was just about to make myself some lunch when I had to stop and take a photo of these mushrooms because they were just so delightful. I wish I'd stopped before I'd cut the white ones off the base but too late! Oh well, there's an excuse to buy some more next week.

That last photo makes me think of Clarence Cliff. I think it must be the shapes.

Anyway, is it just me or is January flying by. I feel totally out of control this month! So many things to organise and get done that I feel as though I'm running round in circles. I got some fabric samples in the post yesterday from the lady who's making my wedding dress. I only tried the dress on once and since then the memory of it has started to fade. But holding the fabric in my hand, it has finally hit me that I'm getting married!! Mr P chose the suits last weekend too. He looked amazing, so elegant when he came out of the dressing room. I have a big smile on my face whenever I think about it. It's all coming together slowly.

I've been busy making lots of earrings and sorting out my pay-it-forward giveaway from a couple of months ago and I'm almost there with it I think. Hope you're having a good week. Bye for now!

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

a little experiment

Every day with my lunch I treat myself to something a bit naughty. Most days it's a chocolate brownie from the gluten free section of the supermarket but I've been worried about the extra ingredients in there that are possibly not that good for you so was keen to find an alternative. Yesterday I had a go at making some gluten and lactose free chocolate cakes by adapting a recipe and look... they've risen (yay!!!) and are lovely, moist and light and not too rich. This is only the second time I've tried to bake cakes since my diet changed so I was a bit nervous about how they'd turn out. Mr P was my guinea pig last night and thought the cake was great and couldn't tell it was any different to a normal one so I'm going to share the recipe here for anyone who's on a similar diet and might like to try them.

chocolate cakes (gluten and lactose free)

Makes 9 muffin sized cakes

2oz (50g) plain chocolate (I used green & blacks organic cooking chocolate - melts easily)

5oz (150g) plain gluten-free flour (I used Dove Farm)

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp zanthan gum (to replace the gluten)

pinch of salt

5oz (150g) soft brown sugar

3oz (85g) dairy-free margarine (I used Pure)

1/4 pint (150ml) unsweetened soya milk

1 tsp vanilla essence

2 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F / 180 degree C / Gas 4. Line 9 deep muffin tins with paper cases.

2. Chop up about 1 oz / 25g of the chocolate into small chunks.

3. Melt the rest of the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of almost simmering water until smooth.

4. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, zanthan gum, salt and sugar into a large bowl.

5. Add the chocolate, vanilla essence, margarine and soya milk and beat until smooth. Add the eggs and beat until blended. *Edit - Add the chopped up chocolate to the mixture and mix.

6. Fill the cases about 2/3 full.

7. Bake until risen and a skewer inserted into the centre of a cake comes out clean. 20 - 25 minutes should do it but our oven took 40 mins because it's old and we need a new one. Transfer to a rack to cool or eat one straight away like I did!

Speaking of which it's lunch time. Might just have to go and eat another! See you later! :-)

Friday, 11 January 2008

a bit of sparkle

I have a secret that I can't tell and it's killing me!!! More about that in months to come! Heehee I bet your mind's boggling now!

What do you think of my new earrings? They took me a while to make but I'm really pleased with them and they're dangling from my earlobes as I type. Wrapping the wire around was really fiddly and wow it took a lot of silver wire, in fact it took all of the wire I'd just oxidised so I was lucky that I didn't run short right halfway through the second earring. I think I might make something similar for the wedding. Has anyone ever tried to make a tiara?

The birds finished the fat blocks off a couple of days ago. The favourite so far is definitely the oat, niger seed and raspberry block. I will have to put the last one out tomorrow and make some more. I counted approx 50 siskins all eating sunflower seeds on the patio yesterday. They are chomping through them like there's no tomorrow!

Anyway, have a lovely weekend. More wedding things for us. I'm worried I'm turning into one of those people who talks about nothing else! Have fun!

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

cooking for birds

It's a bit chilly out there and our feathered friends need our help! We've been feeding the birds here with suet blocks from the garden centre that fit into the flat holders. So after my dad gave me the idea I decided that I would try to make some like he does instead of buying them. I have no idea if this worked out cheaper or if they're more nutritious but it was fun!

I had lots of ideas for different flavours and in the end decided on different combinations of veggie fat, niger seed, sunflower seed, tinned raspberries and oats.

It's not rocket science but this is how I did it...

I saved the plastic packaging that the original blocks came in and lined one with tinfoil and left the others naked as a bit of an experiment to see which would come out better. Then in this particular one I piled in some oats and niger seed and mixed it up a bit. You can really heap it in.

In an old pan I melted about 125g of vegetable fat for each block I was making (I used Trex), then I thought seeing as the birds seemed to like the old berry flavoured blocks I would add some tinned raspberries. Of course the mixture separates a bit in the pan but as long as you don't put too much juice in it all works out ok in the end.

Next I poured the fat mixture into the container and gave it a stir. In the background are two I made earlier (in true blue peter style!!): One with oats & raspberries and the other with oats, sunflower, niger seed and raspberries (yes, went a bit mad with that one!).

Then I left them to cool before putting them in the fridge.

A couple of hours later and I turned them out. I don't think you really need the tinfoil as they came out easily without breaking.

Dah dah!! I waited to see which bird would be first on there and it was a blue tit which didn't seem overly impressed but I'm glad to say that since then the siskins have been devouring the one with the niger seed and the starlings seem to really love both. I still have the 'everything' block waiting in the fridge.

Do you do anything to help the wildlife where you live?

Thursday, 3 January 2008

hello 2008!

Have you made any resolutions?

I haven't made any this year but I feel all inspired to get on with things and make some plans of things I'd like to achieve. More about that at a later date.

Christmas was a lovely, relaxed affair at my parents' house. The first time in a few years so all the more fabulous for it! We had roast turkey with all the trimmings and it was delicious. Nobody would have known it was all gluten and dairy free! Fantastic!

Something funny happened... unbeknown to either of us, Mr P and I both bought each other a camera for christmas! But not only that, it was exactly the same model!* Mr P looked horrified when he opened his present which wasn't the reaction I was hoping for, but we had a good laugh about it afterwards. I think we are turning into each other! You know how couples start to wear his and hers matching jackets, etc.

*and I didn't even drop any hints Andrew!!