Monday 27 July 2015

Getting the Tea and Cake in Order ~~~

Gentle Reader ~~~ The weather in The Shire, in fact across much of the British Isles, today is appalling, so it is a day for taking my mind off the winds that howl around the cottage in their most unseasonal manner, accompanied by heavy rains of the same ilk ~~~ To the kitchen I go for a spot of comfort and distraction by baking cakes for the freezer.  Before I go, shall I reflect for a moment upon that most British traditional supplementary repast ~~~ Tea and Cake?

A gardener, or a crafter, or anyone who simply appreciates Elevenses as that most sacred of mid~morning rituals of refreshment, must get their priorities in order ~~~ ensuring a proper and constant supply of tea and cake.

To this end, last week, it was with shock and horror I realised that my tea chest was starting to resemble the cupboard of Old Mother Hubbard ~~~ looking rather bare ~~~

~~~ so I hastily put in an order to Twinings for more supplies, which thankfully arrived quickly ~~~

and now all is well, the tea chest is full to overflowing once more, with plenty of boxes in store {but I am sure they will not last that long, are you?} There are plenty of my favourites, Gingerbread Green Tea, Apple and Cinnamon Black Tea, as well as a new flavour, Cherry Bakewell ~~~ I'll let you know!

There, doesn't this look better?

In celebration of approaching Autumn, I treated myself to a new 'Autumn' mug {I buy one every year} in the Emma Bridgewater Summer Sale ~~~ the Sunflower half pint; Oh! My! while I was shopping, a Rose and Bee teacup somehow slipped into my cart as well ~~~ but I think it is just the perfect shape for hot chocolate in the cooler months ahead, don't you?

To the Most Important Matter of Cake ~~~ some considerable time ago, I came across a Delia Smith recipe that I wished to try, but could not find one of the key ingredients, Coconut Milk Powder. I then espied it on a well known online retail shop {I refuse to speak the name out loud} at an exorbitant price for a rather absurdly large quantity of a kilogram, when all I needed was three tablespoons! Well, that was no good so the wait was on.  I put on my Patience Hat.  Then, one day, as if by magic, the ingredient drifted on to my computer screen while I was looking for something else ~~~ a reasonable quantity at an acceptable price, so I snapped it up!  Cake baking ~~~ here we come!

So, today I can make the Fresh Lime and Coconut Cake ~~~ courtesy of Delia Smith's recipe here.  Off to the kitchen I go ~~~ Emily is ready to help ~~~

~~~ time passes ~~~~

The result is that it made an oddly shallow sponge which did not rise at all. Comparing it to the image in the book, Delia's Cakes, {below} Delia's didn't rise either ~~~ so I think it is how it is meant to be ~~~

Anyway, here it is ~~~

As you can see, I ran out of limes, and frankly it did not appeal to me to have raw lime zest, or wedges of pure, unsweetened limes decorating the cake ~~~ bit too tart, I think, so if I bake this again I will devise something more acceptable to my palette for decoration ~~~ I also made the icing slightly thicker as I did not want it running off the cake as Delias does ~~~

If I make it again, I will be making some serious tweaks to the recipe, not least increasing the eggs, flour, sugar, and butter to give a fatter sponge!

Even though it's a bit too fresh to cut, I could not resist temptation, so I took a small slice to test it ~ someone has to do it!  Frankly, it is disappointingly bland considering there are three fresh limes therein! Maybe it will improve after a day or two, so I'll let you know next time how it tastes.

Until next time,
Sincerely yours,

Saturday 25 July 2015

Did Somebody Say Summer?

Gentle Reader ~~~ Can you feel it? Do you smell it? There ~~~ just a fleeting glimpse and it is gone for a moment, but will be here again shortly ~~~ of course, I am talking about Autumn, for I can barely contain my excitement that my favourite season of them all is nearly with us once more ~~~

Summer has barely appeared in the west, our temperatures struggled to break into the 60's and the wind has blown and the rain has rained ~~~ and most days the heating is on, especially in the late evenings, as the days begin to shorten and jewelled sunset, cloud~filled skies bedeck the horizon, with soft, rose~gold light welcoming the evening, bidding the day a fond farewell, and slipping into the rich, velvety purple of a moonlight night ~~~

I am not complaining! I cannot take the heat so this cooler, more tempered weather has suited me well, although a little less wind and rain would not have gone amiss ~~~

Regrettably, I did not complete the ICAD challenge this year.  I was unwell, then Mum was unwell, and over a week went by, and I fell so far behind in the daily challenge that it suddenly became catchup and a chore. Art is not about being a chore, it is all about pleasure, and that is why I'm not taking part for the remainder, but who knows what I will get up to next?  Thank you all for your very kind comments and encouragement, and maybe next year some of you will take part too?

So, how does my garden grow?  With all the rain it grows rather well, despite the lack of warming sun, it is quite lush and verdant, and as we might expect the weeds are doing exceptionally well ~~~ {insert hysterical laughter here} I even managed to miss one week of putting out the fortnightly garden waste collection, so shame on me!

Nature is quite a miracle, she keeps things ticking over, even during periods of neglect ~~~ here are some pictures of what flowered ~~~

The firey orange of the Crocosmia Lucifer which has done particularly well
this year ~~~

with the purple beauty of the dwarf clematis ~~~

The gentle, innocent, and daisy~like flowers of Feverfew ~~~

and the delicate pink of a cultivated Verbascum ~~~

or the feathery blue of a Nigella ~~~ Love in a Mist ~~~

a patch of borage, perfect to garnish your Pimms or G&T ~~~

Lots of different grasses bring interest, movement, and neutral colour to the garden ~~~

and my favourite, native Mullein {Verbascum}

Now I have a conundrum {yet again!} and we must wait and see ~~~ I discovered a beautiful, peachy pink poppy growing on the side of the drive ~~~ it has all the attributes of the wild field poppies that are strewn over my entire garden, yet it is this pretty, and very unusual colour.

At first, I thought a bloom had bleached out in the sun, but then successive flowers opened in the same colour, so I have tied raffia around the stem to mark it out and will harvest the seed heads separately in the hopes that it will come true again in the future. Fingers Crossed ~~~ I would love to know if you have any suggestions or thoughts on this too ~~~

Here is the sunset that graced our westering skies last evening ~~~

Can you see the animal {be it cat, dog, or maybe even a unicorn?} galloping across the evening sky?  Remember, don't look too hard at my garden, just see all the beautiful blooms, the raindrops, and the sunsets ~~~ and ignore the weeds!

Until next time ~~~
Sincerely yours ~~~ Deborah

Sunday 12 July 2015

ICAD Week Six and We're On A Roll

Gentle Reader ~~~ yes, we are on a roll, literally, this week for the prompts all week long are for games ~ not all involve dice as you will see ~~~ and the media prompt is a colour palette of your choice daily, any medium.~~~ so ~~~

***edit*** this has only three of the seven daily prompts. I have been ill in bed for most of the week and have not felt like standing {or sitting} to work on anything ~~~ I have even missed three of the Wimbledon finals, but am making certain not to miss the Men's Final this afternoon. So, here is my 'short' week. I do not know yet if I will try to play catch up on the missed ones, or just carry on from here ~~~

Day 36 {yes, we really are on day 36} brought a prompt of Backgammon.

One of the oldest games known in the world, but all the boards I've seen are neutral and masculine, so I decided to use a pink palette making it a bit girly adding some pink pearly Nuvo Drops accents.  The wording I used, Acey Deucey, is because many years ago I frequently played this variation on the rules.  I used mixed scrap papers and cut the wording out using my Brother Scan n' Cut and squiggled some scribbles around the edges with a Fine Liner ~~~

One day, the prompt was Monopoly {I lost count while in bed}
I used to love playing Monopoly. I was ruthless! This is made up of street names coloured and written using Spectrum Noir alcohol pens and Fine Liners. I think the colours really look like I cut out rectangles from my old board ~~~

Today, I think it might be 42, the prompt is Scrabble. This took me less than five minutes as I am still very shaky and not good at doing much else other than sitting in my arm chair {I have a bowl of Haagen Dazs Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream in lieu of berries and cream to fortify me while watching Wimbledon}, so it is not much of a muchness but, although rough it sums up my feelings on art ~~~ well, just a little ~~~ it isn't easy when you haven't any hwyl as we say in Wales ~~~

I did promise a small garden update, but obviously that has not happened either, and there is a small excitement to share too, so I hope to catch up on that during the coming week ~~~

Until next time ~~~

Sunday 5 July 2015

We're Over Half Way Now!

Gentle Reader ~~~

Week Five brings a fresh variety of prompts and suggested media too. Up until now I am using predominantly what I have to hand as I do not want this to turn into an expensive project buying yet more materials to add to my collection ~ it is time I used some of what I have!

The prompt for Day 29 was Ice Cream ~~~ okay, shush! I know, we all scream for ice cream!  I did a layered hand dyed tissue sea/sky with a pearlescent golden sand for my background.  The wood cut style stamp can be waves on the sea, or hills against the sky, depending which way your traditional deck chairs are facing. The chairs and gull ~ with his beady eye waiting for that scoop of vanilla ice cream to fall from the crunchy cone ~ are stamped images, coloured by hand and cut out then stuck to the scene with foam pads giving a 3:d effect ~~~

Day 30 and the prompt was Telephone. Okay, self confessed Whovian alert ~~~ I couldn't pass this one up without a reference to my favourite Time Lord, could I?

I had a lot of fun planning this one. It is not meant to be a great work of art, I wanted to keep it more graphic style and simple to let the humour and the geek speak for themselves ~~~

Day 31 Trivia ~~~ okay, I went a bit off piste with this, but stick with me ~~~
Not one to take things at face value, and not wanting to go down the route of finding some obscure fact to portray, off I went to Google.
Trivia has it's roots in Latin, two words, tri {three} and via {road} In Roman days, this was the name for the point where one road divided and became two, or the point where three roads converged. People would often gather for short periods of time to pass the time of day and chat about snippets of information ~ which is how the definition of trivia as we know it today, snippets of information, came about.  If you are interested, it might be worth a Google, because I was quite surprised at the origins and other things I learned just by researching "Trivia"

So, I thought, gathering of people needs food, so let's have a picnic. A rough sketch in gouache, with type written text using my late Daddy's vintage Imperial typewriter and my own home made carbon paper using an oil pastel ~~~ Tea with that sandwich, dah~ling?

My late Daddy's vintage Imperial Typewriter ~~~

Day 32 the prompt was Weather ~~~ woha boy! could go over board on this, what with all the different types of weather, rainbows, weather songs, list goes on, but in the end I settled for a jolly yellow sun with a few raindrops that are not going to rain on the parade ~~~ because I don't care what the weather man says ~~~

hand dyed tissue; typewritten text with home made carbon paper on tissue; Spectrum Noir sun on water colour paper {cut out and stuck on}; pearlescent ink raindrops ~~~

Day 32 the prompts were either Mad Men or I Love Lucy. I have never heard of Mad Men, and know very little about I Love Lucy so I went off prompt with a set of Hobby Art stamps of sunflowers and coloured them in by hand using Spectrum Noir products from Crafter's Companion.

I long to visit Provence to see the sunflowers in the fields, and lavender in long purple row upon row under endless blue skies ~~~

Day 34 the prompt was Flag.  Naturally, I did a little interpretation of the Welsh flag, and it was a lone Welsh flag in a sea of Star Spangled Banners, so here it is ~~~ I used a sticker of the Red Dragon and included a small group of daffodils as they are the national flower of Wales ~~~

The final day of Week 5, Day 35, was Portrait. Struggled a bit, but then the muse descended and Saint Anthony helped me find a small envelope of old postage stamps I'd saved for just this very moment. As he was helping me find them, we came across a packet with a perfect image of the Mona Lisa on the front! Yay ~~~ exactly what was needed to help fill the card! A couple of other found bits and bobs and Robert's Your Mother's Brother ~~~ {or Bob's your Uncle}

Onwards and Upwards, as they say, to Week 6.  Do stop by mid week as I'm hoping to put up a wee entry on the garden!