Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Learn Some New Every Day

Today I succumbed....
Shimelle Laine's new e-course starts tomorrow and I have been trying hard to resist. I am already subscribed to Susanne Conway's 'Unravelling' starting in September, and this sounds very exciting but demanding. I already juggle with too many balls, but LSNED was so hard to resist. The deciding factor?
This morning I heard a lovely story about someone who really wanted to join up but was unsure because of the money and other commitments. She even went as far as registering, but stopped before she pressed the send button. Then she had an email from Shimelle welcoming her on the course. The woman let Shimelle know there must be a mistake - and learned that someone had bought the course for her knowing how much she wanted to take part. The person wanted to remain annonymous and I felt so touched that someone would do this for another. The woman concerned was extremely grateful and plans to pay it foreward one day when an opportunity arises.
I have met some wonderful people on my previous e-courses and my world has become bigger and better for the experience. And so, I decided I will not miss out.
It all kicks off tomorrow and I am wondering how I will approach this project. Some people are making albums, others blogging, or scrapbooking. I need to keep it small and as much as I'd love to experiment with journal pages or wonderful new techniques in a handmade album I know this would mean it will be overwelming and unfinished. So for now I am thoughtful, and I'll let you know once I decide.
Meanwhile, anyone interested in Shimelle's course which runs through September should check out her blog for details. Her other courses are well worth considering too, and once you subscribe you can join in on future occasions as part of the deal!

Monday, 30 August 2010

Summer Paints Pages

Yesterday I treated myself to some new craft materials. But I am most excited by the double sided pages that Summer painted. When she gave them to me she said they were covers for a book. I was touched that at 6 years old, she understands what is important to me! I have scanned the four paintings and will make something special with them. I love the
yellow lined page... this will be great for journalling.
Meanwhile I am still working on the Alice in Wonderland mini album and have just 2 pages to complete. I will be going to my monthly crop on Saturday and want to take the finished album with me. A good excuse to spend time on it tomorrow, I think.
I mentioned last week that I am planning a creative retreat with friends in a Gypsy Camp. I have been busy preparing a mini album kit for each of us and that in itself has been fun. I wondered what I could use as the pages, as I loved the theme of Alice in Wonderland and using pages from the book. Then I found a Day Book that I have never used. As well as being laid out like a diary there are beautiful flower illustrations and borders around each page, so this will be perfect. I am adding lots of embellishments and printed papers, and I am getting quite excited about starting another mini album.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

In a Pickle....

No squash in this pickle, but I found a wonderful way of using other vegetables from the allotment. I have always been wary of making Piccalilli as I was never sure if the sauce would be as good as the Barton brand we love. However, I decided to give it a try and made my own adaptions after looking through recipies. Delia Smith can take credit for the sauce recipe, but I added green tomatos since we have so many as well as cucumber. runner beans, and onion from the allotment. I just had to buy a cauliflower as it wouldn't seem like Picalilli without. Result - lovely crunchy vegetables and the most delicious sauce imaginable! I may not be buying Bartons in future!
I also made some pickled beetroot and onion and cucumber pickles. I just love the chopping and preparation, so soothing and satisfying. And at the end of the day, with my jars lined up, I get a warm glow of pleasure.
By the way, I found a useful way of pouring thick pickle into jars. I thoroughly washed an empty 1 litre plastic milk carton, and cut off the base. I filled it with the pickle (lid on!) and the heat of the pickle made it pliable, so I could easily pour into the jar with very little mess. This worked much better than a funnel or anything I have tried before, so I thought I would share this idea.
I should wait for 3 months before trying the Picalilli, but I think this might be too long! At least it will be ready for Christmas and I may make more jars as gifts.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

2 plus 2 go away

This week I went away with my daughter Emma, and two granddaughters. We stayed in a farmhouse B&B in Suffolk, and Summer & Ivy loved the garden with it's climbing frame and trampoline. We had two great days out, to Easton Farm and to Framlingham Castle. I highly recommend the farm visit. There was lots to see and do, with pony rides, rides in a horse and carriage, and various trailers. The girls loved feeding all the animals and holding baby rabbits, guinea pigs and chicks. It got a thumbs up from us all. Being school holidays the Castle had an event day with two actors playing the part of Highway men. Lots of interaction and participation. There was lots of belly laughing, followed by trembling of knees as Emma walked round the tower walls. Her fear of high narrow walkways seems to have increased over the years, and Emma looked very relieved when she was back on the ground!
While in the area we found a wonderful camp complete with a gypsey caravan, tipi, yurt and other interesting 'accomodation' to stay in. It is eco friendly and I support and love places like this. It is high on my list of places to stay next year.
I already have a plans to stay in a 'gypsy camp' in 6 weeks time. It is set in an orchard with 2 bow top caravans and a bow top tent. Four friends & I are planning a creative retreat and we are each organising an activity. I might do felt making. I have yet to try this but have a day planned with friends to experiment. I will let you know how I get on!
I am still looking for ways of using the huge pile of squash and vegetables from the allotment. Today I started to prepare some for pickles and freezing. I learned that you can grate squash and freeze it to use in cakes and breads, as well as add to soups and casseroles etc. I thought the water content might be too high but there was lots of websites recommending freezing as a way of storing squash, so I thought it worth a try. I'd love to hear any recipes or ideas that you like..!

Sunday, 15 August 2010


Today's harvest from the allotment. I have added a tea spoon to give perspective. The largest courgettes weigh nearly 7.5lb (3.5kg) and I am scratching my head wondering how to use them all. Last year I made some lovely spicey courgette chutney, marrow & ginger wine and jam, and ratatouille. Moira has suggested a courgette cake, and I use them in every day cooking. But with so many to use, I'd love some new ideas and recipes please. Feel welcome to post here and I'll let you know how many ways I find of using squash!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010


This weekend saw me at the monthly Eclectic Keepsake Crop where Karen Cole showed how to make her Alice in Wonderfland themed mini album. I loved the bag of materials that she prepared, with papers and embellishments. What to do with them all?! I took along photos of my recent stay in Rye Harbour, with my friends Jill & Ruth. I am still working on the album and will show more pages as they are completed. Karen came up with some new ideas to try, and I love the whole concept of the album. Fitting in a theme which is unconnected to the photos and focus of the album is both interesting and challenging at times. Something I will certainly do again in future!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

How To Be Alone

Loved this video, the words are very inspirational and I had to share.
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