Tuesday, 31 August 2010

blackberry yoghurt pops...


a glut of foraged blackberries, some late summer sunshine and an idea from simply photo, inspired us to make yoghurt pop's today. We blended together blackberries, natural yoghurt and a little cream with a tiny bit of sugar to taste and then froze our mixture in shot sized glasses, sticking in lolly sticks after an hour in the freezer. A few hours later and after loosening in a bowl of warm water, we had our blackberry yoghurty lollipops, that are just the best colour and turn your tongue purple!

oh and very cool tiger t-shirt is from Dandy Star x

Saturday, 28 August 2010

ten ways to get wet...


I am feeling quite waterlogged after a week of rain, so in tribute to the British weather, I am celebrating getting wet, instead of moaning about it!

1. stand under a waterfall
inspired by Leonie's blog post, I am planning a trip to Welsh waterfall country to swim in beautiful pools and walk behind waterfalls, it is just so lush and green.

2. puddle splashing
even if you don't want to go outside, pull on your wellies and waterproofs and find some puddles to jump in ~ channel your inner child!

3. take a dip
treat yourself to some bubble bath, my all time favourite is Neals Yard's Seaweed & Arnica Foaming Bath, to ease away all those daily aches and pains.

4. picnic on a riverbank
Find a secret riverbank, pack up a picnic, immerse your beer in the water to keep it chilled, and lie back, listening to the water ripple by.

5. go crabbing
buy a cheap crabbing line and dangle it into the harbour and see how many crabs you can catch and return!

6. find a ford
fords are so enchanting, study your local Ordnance Survey map for fords and take the long way home!

7. get out the water pistols
for over heated children, give them water pistols and a wide berth!

8. go for a wild swim
I love this picture on flickr by dearclaudia, so much fun! Check out the wild swimming map to find somewhere near you.

9. swim somewhere special
there are so many outdoor lido's throughout the UK, usually hidden and quite old and beautiful, why not take a trip somewhere a little more special to dip your toes in?

10. read all about it
and finally, if I really can't pursued you to get wet, then read all about it with the beautifully written book Waterlog by the late Roger Deakin, who takes you on his journey of swimming all around the UK.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

pinch me, I'm dreaming...


My first commission has been safely delivered and is now waiting to be hung at the very beautiful Lypiatt Park, home of Dan and Juliet Chadwick, which recently featured in The Sunday Times, under the title 'Britain's Coolest Mansion.'

I have known Juliet for a little while, she is a talented artist and Dan is an amazing sculptor/inventor, so I feel extremely privileged to have been commissioned by artists to produce something so different to anything I have ever done before and on such a large scale! Their home is amazing and gallery like, with white walls and large hallways, packed full of amazing art and sculpture, which range from sculpture by Lynn Chadwick, Dan's late father, to Damien Hirst pieces taller than my house! I live in fear of the boys touching anything when we visit - seconds before I took the picture above, Alfie was zooming up and down the hallway on a scooter!

The picture is the next size up from A0 (not sure what that is called?), and is of my favourite blue sky print on film. Up close it's very grainy and almost looks like a painting on canvas, but it is actually mounted on MDF from here. I am so enchanted by how it has turned out that I am going to mount some of my favourite film shots on MDF and offer them for sale from next week, in my etsy shop.

Friday, 20 August 2010

putting bread on the table...


I spent today up to my elbows in dough, learning how to make bread with Gillian Hancock. Gillian throws open the doors of her Cotswold Cottage and shares her love of baking at the kitchen table, in the heart of her beautiful home. She kept us busy, firstly with a basic white bread recipe, mixing, kneading, then shaping the dough into rolls, plaits and loaves, then moved us on to focaccia, seed bread, fruit and herb bread, using oregano, sage, rosemary, thyme and parsley freshly picked from her garden.

Throughout the morning, the Aga is fired up and one batch after another is baked and turned out onto the cooling rack, until we have more than twenty loaves in various shapes and sizes ~ even little hedgehog loaves to take home to the children! The loaves were cooked in tins, and the plaited bread was placed onto Aga baking sheets, that looked like distressed pieces of leather, and a great product that I am definitely going to invest in. We added poppy and sunflower seeds to the top of the loaves as desired or left them plain.

Once all the bread has been cooked and turned out onto the cooling racks, the table is laid out with olives, parma ham, tomatoes, grapes, salad and the fresh bread still warm from the oven, and over a glass of red wine, the bread is broken and shared with both Gillian and her lovely husband Mark, who joined us from his office. At the end of the day, the bread is shared out for us to take home along with beautifully handwritten recipes, so that we can repeat what we have learned today!

Gillian hosts bread baking days (usually 9.30am - 2pm) from her home in the Cotswolds, contact her for further information about these bespoke and intimate courses. More of the pictures from today can be seen here.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

today in my veg box...


Today in my veg box delivery...

carrots
leek
onions
mushrooms
tomatoes
salad pack (not pictured)
potatoes
courgettes
basil (not pictured)
& blueberries

Veg box from Riverford organic farm, this week I chose the 'favourites' box and added blueberries to the order! I am thinking courgette risotto for supper? Maybe chocolate and courgette muffins too?

Monday, 16 August 2010

festival fun...

unknown festival & picture credit - if anyone knows please advise so I can credit properly?

shocking fact about me #1. I have never been to a festival, not one, no siree, not ever! Every year I look at different line ups and think this will be the year, but still just haven't got around to it! Wish I had done Glastonbury when I was young, not sure I could cope now, especially with the portaloos, although darling Lisa from Doorways Traveler did send a "she wee" a few months ago! Maybe I can re-live my youth when the boys are bigger? 

Sunday, 15 August 2010

learn bushcraft skills...


Take part in some NEW and very fantastic bushcraft courses in The Cotswolds, led by Nick Skinner of Woodland World. Bushcraft is a popular term for wilderness skills, which originates from countries such as Australia and New Zealand and has gained popularity through TV shows featuring survival experts, Ray Mears and Bear Grylls. 

It's all about surviving in the natural environment, using ancient skills and knowledge to do so, including firecraft, tracking, hunting, shelter building, the use of tools such as knives and axes, foraging for food, hand-carving wood, container construction from natural materials, rope and twine-making, and much more. 

Saturday, 14 August 2010

saturday = baking


saturday baking = carrot fairy cakes with a cream cheese icing on top, quite possibly the best recipe ever! Recipe taken from the Rose Bakery book, 'Breakfast, Lunch, Tea' highly recommended, oh how I would love to visit the Rose Bakery in Paris, read a review here, or visit it through the pictures on flickr! The cafe pottery from 'Made In Cley' is lovely too, don't you think?

Friday, 13 August 2010

which came first...


the chicken or the egg?

Yay! Our chickens have started laying, every morning Betty lays an egg before 7am. Rosie prefers to wait until she has had a morning stroll and eaten breakfast before obliging us with her egg. Two a day folks!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

making hot air balloons...


I was inspired by this photo to have a go at making our own hot air balloons, plus it is also the Bristol Balloon Festival at the moment, and we often see them drift silently over our house. Cue a table full of small children, wall paper paste and strips of newspaper and coloured tissue paper, for a messy but fun, craft afternoon! Hang them to dry for a few days and then attach a basket to finish.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Monday, 9 August 2010

music lessons...


the boy has just started to learn the guitar. There weren't enough places for lessons at school, so we have found someone locally to teach him and his dad how to play! I hope he likes it and sticks at it long enough to learn. Strum strum strum....

Friday, 6 August 2010

blue sky thinking...


I am always inspired by watching the clouds in the sky, which direction they are blowing, whether they are white or grey, the patterns they make and the shapes you can spot in them! The Cloud Spotters Guide is one of my favourite books.

I have recently been commissioned to produce this blue sky print as large as it will go, which is quite challenging as it was originally taken on 35mm film. It is to be mounted on mdf mount board, which having only discovered recently, I am loving as it really is a lovely way to display photo's. Hopefully it will hold the image at 150cm x 100cm, although the grain is more pronounced, which personally I love as it just adds to the charm of film print. I have butterflies in my stomach as I wait for it to arrive!

In the meantime, I am really inspired by the positive response to the blue sky print, that featured in my exhibition, to produce more. The vignetting on the film camera's make the skies so beautiful. I am building up to a collection that maybe in the future I can mount on MDF and exhibit somewhere. In the meantime, I have set up the obligatory flickr group called "blue sky thinking" so that you too can share the sky shots that inspire you!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

blackberry jam...



Our hedgerow harvest continues with blackberries, which are starting to grow and ripen in local bramble patches. I always think of picking blackberries in September, as they are an autumnal fruit, but I am usually quite late and others usually beat me to it, leaving me the hard job of pulling down high brambles using the hook of an umbrella! It always seems too early to pick them in August, but judging by these large beauties picked a few weeks ago in July, now is the time to start visiting our secret blackberry picking places! We have made our first batch into some deliciously rich jam, using this recipe...

ingredients...


1kg blackberries
1kg preserving sugar
Juice of 3 large lemons

method...

  1. Place the blackberries in a colander and rinse carefully under cold running water. Tip the fruit into a large, heavy-based pan or preserving pan with the sugar and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer, very gently, for about 20 minutes, until the fruit is soft and pulpy. Add the lemon juice. Meanwhile, place 2 or 3 small plates or saucers in the fridge to chill.
  2. Remove the lid from the pan, bring the mixture to the boil and cook rapidly for 8 minutes. The heat should be sufficiently high so that the mixture bubbles vigorously, but is not so near the top of the pan that it might boil over.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and test to see if the syrup will set by spooning a little onto one of the chilled plates or saucers. Cool for a few seconds, then push the syrup with your finger tip. If it wrinkles slightly on the surface, it has reached setting point. If not, boil for a further 2 minutes and then test again. Repeat this process, if necessary, until setting point is reached.
  4. Ladle the jam into clean, sterilised preserving jars (sterilize them by heating in the oven). Cover the surface of the jelly with waxed discs and seal the jar lids with rubber seals. If using jam jars, seal with jam pot covers. Label and store in a cool, dark place.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

hedgerow harvest...


A few weeks ago we picked elderflower heads to make our annual brew of elderflower champagne using this recipe...

recipe : : makes 24 bottles

Ingredients...
About 24-30 elderflower heads, in full bloom
2kg sugar
4 litres hot water
Juice and zest of four lemons
1-2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
A pinch of dried yeast (you may not need this)

Method: How to make elderflower champagne...
1. Put the hot water and sugar into a large container (a spotlessly clean bucket is good) and stir until the sugar dissolves, then top up with cold water to 6 litres.
2. Add the lemon juice and zest, the vinegar and the flower heads and stir gently.
3. Cover with clean muslin and leave to ferment in a cool, airy place for a couple of days. Take a look at the brew at this point, and if it’s not becoming a little foamy and obviously beginning to ferment, add a pinch of yeast.
4. Leave the mixture to ferment, again covered with muslin, for a further four days. Strain the liquid through a sieve lined with muslin and decant into sterilised glass bottles.
5. Seal and leave to ferment in the bottles for a further eight days before serving, chilled.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

the circus rolls into town...


Giffords Circus is back, with a new show for 2010, "Yasmine" a musical, based on the life of Yasmine Smart, granddaughter of legendary circus owner Billy Smart. Giffords, owned by Nell and Toti Gifford, is a 1930's village green touring circus, that travels around the west country. Even having twins earlier this year, hasn't slowed Nell down, and instead of relaxing and taking motherhood easy, the twins and Nell even star in the show!

The show is a lyrical delight packed full of music and amazing acts, from tightrope to trapeze, juggling and of course the horses, it will leave you wanting more! The big top only seats about 350 people, so it's small and intimate, the performers will catch your eye and smile, leaving you grinning back in awe of their talent, and feeling like a six year old! After the evening performances, the circus restaurant 'Circus Sauce' opens, serving locally sourced food, the meals are amazing and you dine on large tables, under a canvas awning, in the company of some of the acts, you have just seen in the show! Giffords Circus is the highlight of my summer!

To book your tickets to the show visit the Giffords Circus website, more of my Gifford's Circus pictures can be found here.

Monday, 2 August 2010

there's something quite romantic...


about having your intials carved into a tree isn't there? Not that you should do it, or that I condone such an act, but I must admit to wishing someone had carved mine somewhere special, a secret place maybe! I wonder who TH and PW are, and when they carved this?

I'm taking part in The August Break, are you?

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Celebrate Lammas Day...

Today is, traditionally, Lammas Day, a time of thanksgiving at the start of the harvest. In medieval times, farmers made loaves of bread on this day from the first wheat to be harvested ? why not have ago at baking a loaf yourself?

August...


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