Thursday, 30 April 2009

Blue & Green, should never be seen...

unless it's something crafty.

Another relaxing day today, a spot of shopping this morning and then soft crafting this afternoon.

I've managed to finish CJ3 so that can get handed in tomorrow. Sorry, no pics - you never know who's watching :)

I've also done the April ATC for the Cubby Hole.
The theme is springtime, and I've gone for something simple and hopefully fresh. It's the first time I've used a brush in a long time, and I'm still not totally convinced that they're right. I was aiming for simple or 'naive' to use a posh word, but part of me keeps saying "they're not finished, you can still see the paper".

Comments welcomed, but I'm not altering them - whatever the voices tell me ;)

Anyway, that's enough from me. Time to do the last bit of packing, then it's early to bed, ready for the drive to Scotland.

Happy Beltaine.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Baking today

Well, that was yesterdays blog, here's today's.

On Friday I'll be heading up to Scotland to celebrate Beltaine with a group of friends. Everybody brings something to the celebrations so I've been in the kitchen all afternoon baking. It's come out quite good, despite a slight measuring mix-up (it just means there's more than I intended).

First up is 'Cosmic Fool's Tea-loaf'.
Sadly Cos is no longer with us, so it's kind of fitting to take this to a gathering of friends. I finished up with four loaves.

½ pint of boiling water (250ml)
1 tea bag (‘normal’ tea, or English Breakfast)
8oz sultanas (225g)
4oz soft brown sugar (100g)
8oz self-raising flour (approx) (225g)
1 egg

Make up tea with ½ pint of boiling water and tea bag, allow to steep. Remove tea bag and mix in sugar and sultanas. Leave to soak for at least 1 hour.
Add half the flour and mix well. Add the egg and mix in well. Slowly add the remainder of flour stirring well. Continue until the batter thickens but is still loose enough to pour easily.
Pour into an oiled 2lb loaf tin and cook at 180 degrees C/gas mark 4 for 40- 60 mins.
This always seems to take a different time to cook, so what you look for is a skewer pushed in and pulled out mostly clean (not dry – too much and not coated with raw mix)
Leave in tin for ½ hour then turn out on to a rack to cool.
Tastes great with butter or low fat spread (I like Olivio or Bertoli as it’s now called) and tastes even better the second day (if you have any left…)
© Kev the Cosmic Fool 2004

I also made an Orange and Sultana traybake. It's quick and easy to do, and is more of a cake than a loaf. No photo for this one as I'd already wrapped it for travelling.

Sultana and Orange Traybake
225g/8oz soft margarine
225g/8oz caster sugar
275g/10oz self-raising flour
2tsp baking powder
4 eggs
2 tbsp milk
275g/10oz sultanas
Grated rinds of 2 oranges
Demerara sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Grease and base line 30 x 23cm/12 x 9in roasting tin with greased greaseproof paper.
2. Measure all the ingredients except the Demerara sugar into a large bowl and beat well for about 2 minutes until well blended. Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and level the top.
3. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes then sprinkle the top with Demerara sugar and return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes or until the cake has shrunk from the sides of the tin and springs back when pressed in the centre with your fingertips. Leave to cool in the tin.

Chilled :)

I meant to blog this yesterday but got sidetracked as usual.

I've just spent the last 2 days putting the van through it's paces and it's passed with flying colours. The original plan was to go to Llangollen, but half way through booking I mentioned that I'd be in a van and he 'suddenly' realised they were booked up. Oh well, his loss.

Instead I finished up at a lovely site near to Bala Bwch yn Uchaf. If you like your camping low key and peaceful this site is excellent, and the owners very friendly. It's right next door to the Bala Lake Railway but unfortunately it doesn't run on Mondays.

I arrived on Sunday afternoon and left on Tuesday morning. With the
exception of the site owner I hardly saw a soul while I was there, and the only sounds were wind, water, birds and sheep. The van works well, and the only niggles were small things that I'd missed like tea-towels (a T-shirt does the job just as well). The site has old wheels to use as braziers and I managed to scavenge a few bits of wood from the old fire sites to make a fire on the Sunday.

Monday night was crystal clear which made for some wonderfully starry skies, but also meant it was close to freezing by morning. Unfortunately the clear skies didn't last, and by 11 it was raining so I decided to head home. That's the other good thing - no wet canvas to dry out.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Housey, housey

It's been a good day today. The sun has been out and there was a very enjoyable workshop at the Cubby Hole with the very talented Sue Roddis. Today's theme was to create houses from grey board and decorate them with the emphasis being on use of colour, rather than techniques.

I said last week that I needed to go outside my comfort zone and I guess today was the first nervous peek round the corner. I've tried to move away from my usual earth-tones and gone for mostly black and white with hints of blue (a colour I wouldn't normally work with). I didn't escape the earth tones completely, but at least they're not dominant.

I hope you enjoy them.

Monday, 13 April 2009

It may not be pretty.....

but it's functional (or at least I hope it is).

It's taken 5 days (spread over weekends) and about £200 of plywood and fixings, but I now have the van kitted out for camping.

Don't look too closely or you'll spot that:
1) I'm not a carpenter/joiner/cabinet maker
2) I can't paint either.

I'm on leave in a couple of weeks, so I'll give it a trial run somewhere local to make sure there's no major problems, then it's off to Scotland for it's first real test at Beltaine. Once I'm happy that things work ok, (and don't need moving) I'll get the roof lined and give it a proper coat of paint.

Other than that, I need to sort out lights and music. I want to keep the electrics in the back separate from the vehicle electrics, so there's no worries about flat batteries. I've seen solar powered lights that charge up during the day and give about 4 hours light at night, so that's the lighting sorted. For music I've treated myself to an MP3 player and am trying to find some battery powered speakers to go with it. I have also invested in a Freeloader, which is a small solar charger that will recharge the MP3 (as well as my phone and satnav), so hopefully once I arrive on site I'll be self-sufficient for power needs.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Saturday scrapping and a monkey

Today was the monthly 'Crop-shop' at The Cubby Hole. Seeing as it's Easter it was a bit quieter than usual, only 5 of us there, but there was plenty of crafting and the usual hilarity and banter. Sadly, since the Cubby Hole relocated the chip bap lunch is no more.
There was also much discussion of crafting style. We are all fairly seasoned crafters (apart from Naomi, but she's just naturally talented). The thing is we are all good at what we do, but we feel like we're becoming predictable. Pick up any of the CJs that are on display, or look at the pieces that are hanging up and most of the time we can tell who's work it is. I think it's time I went and took a peek outside the comfort zone. I wonder if anybody else will join me?
We also have this month's question to answer. "Which song is the soundtrack to your life?" Should I go for the obvious answer, or try and think of something other than Freebird for a change?
I've also picked up the next CJ3, which apparently I should have had completed by today. Hmmm, I feel a busy crafting period coming up.

Anyway, back to today.

First up was the next layout in my festivals book, and this time around it was the Spring Equinox, not exactly my favourite, and one which I don't really mark other than the fact that it follows my birthday. Luckily it ties in with Eostre/Easter so I was able to attack it from that angle. It's not bad, but going back to comment above, it feels a bit 'samey'. I wonder how Beltaine will work out?

By time I'd finished that, and spent far too much and talked to much, I remembered that it is one of my grandson's birthday tomorrow so it was time for a quick card. The paper is Ramos from S.E.I.'s Madeira Island collection, and the stamp is Patchwork Monkey from Woodware.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

And so it begins...

....not with a bang, but a whimper - as I sit here staring at a blank screen and wondering what on Earth to say.