Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Food

If you have come to find One World One Heart, don't despair.  You'll find it here and there is time to enter until 14th February 2010

So, Friday Food!  I began to think about this subject at breakfast time this morning, (but it was a while later before I realised that it is actually Friday - and therefore I could turn it into a blog post)! 

What is it about toasters?  I'm sure you've heard it before, and no doubt you will hear it again, but ours doesn't work very well.  It wasn't cheap, we deliberately bought a more expensive one because we had similar problems with the last one, but the colour of the toast is dependent more on the state of the universe than on the mechanics of the machine.  Ours is labelled with settings for one to seven minutes, and hopefully the toast will brown nicely within three to four......... OR NOT!  And yes, it  usually is 'or not', although suddenly there will be that wonderful day when the toast IS a glorious shade of golden brown and all will be forgiven.  The answer would seem simple - just increase the time to four to five minutes!  Yes, we've tried that , but then we have the singeing smell and charcoal toast followed by the dash to the smoke alarm to 'stop that infernal racket!'  So the answer is to leave it set on three minutes - retrieve uncooked toast - turn it around and replace - and set it for a further one minute.  It doesn't work the other way around, so if further toast is required a setting of one minute first followed by three minutes will still result in white toast - another single minute is still needed.  I'm talking about white bread today - the same applies to any colour - but the significance of white bread is actually important to this little story. 

When I was a child I had a friend called Susan.  She had two sisters, the youngest of these was called Margaret, but was always referred to as 'Margie Jane'.  Margie Jane always got what she wanted, and if she didn't she would scream.  We lived across the road and down a little, and we always knew when Margie Jane wasn't getting her own way because we would hear the  S C R E A M !  There was one thing that made her  S C R E A M   louder than anything, and that was colour of any sort on her toast.  She not only LIKED  it that way - she was seriously SCARED to have it any other way.  Needless to say, we always refer to uncooked toast as 'Margie Jane Toast', but the significance is that poor Margie Jane was actually really frightened of this strange coloured thing that most people would prefer.

I was then reminded of another friend.  Claire also had a food fear.  She was terrified (yes, truthfully, terrified is the word) of brown sugar.  Brown sugar in a bag was to be respected, but put it in a bowl and she would 'freak out'.  Why?  Because it moves.  Next time you are using some, just try this little experiment if you don't know what I'm talking about.  Put a reasonable quantity into a bowl, insert a spoon and take it out again.  After the spoon is removed the sugar will continue to move - and it was this that frightened her.  I have seen her run out of a cafe when the man at the next table used the sugar from the bowl, her fear was that bad.

Another friend, Caroline had a fear of rice pudding.  She could eat boiled rice, risotto - rice in any shape or form, but she could not eat rice pudding - BECAUSE IT HAD A SKIN.  Some of you may have seen this picture on another blog, for those of you that wondered I am reposting here - it's rice pudding - showing the skin.

Of course this also shows a completely unexpected arrangement of rice grains that appeared after cooking - I hate to think how that would be interpreted by Caroline.

So, do you have a food fear?  Do you know anyone with a food fear?  From where do they come?  I'm not talking about dislikes - I'm talking about real deep-seated fears.  Now I'm just off to convert another piece of Margie Jane toast.......

Monday, January 25, 2010

One World One Heart


Oh what fun!  It's time for One World One Heart.  It's time for a ride on the Magic Carpet as you surf from one blog to the next to see what's on offer.  As I mentioned in the previous post I had intended to take part last year, but missed the deadline.  This giveaway runs until midnight 14th February UK time when I will choose the winner using a random number selector.  The whole event finishes on 15th Feb, but I'm out on that day, so you may not hear until 16th if we are late back.


So, what's the giveaway here?  Well, there are two.  Each winner will receive a little handmade book, both are illustrated here and the above link shows one of them in the process of construction.

 I would not have thought it would be so difficult to upload these pictures, but my computer problems continue and I have had to resize them online.  I have to admit that I've given up for the time being as it was so slow (more about that shortly).  One of them is a rich burgundy colour with pink and grey pages .....


 And the other is shades of kingfisher and green with hand coloured pages.  Both have flashes of foil and glittery bits on the covers and are wrapped with hand dyed cords.


The books could be used for a variety of purposes, you can decide, and you can mention which one you would prefer, but I can't guarantee that you will receive that one!.  Each will come with a selection of threads and fibres too, but I have had to give up trying to prepare those for the blog, so forgive me if they come as a surprise (I may be able to add them here at a later date).

Here are the rules:

Leave a comment below, making sure that you include contact details - if you win I'd like to be able to let you know and feel free to leave a link to your blog too!  It's as simple as that.  If you would like more information or would like to take part you can find out more here. There are lots of bloggers taking part and they are all listed in the sidebar here

Have fun riding the magic carpet everyone.  It doesn't matter where you live you are eligible to enter - but be prepared to pay any taxes that may be applicable in your part of the world.  And you could also pop over to my second giveaway which you will find here.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Lots going on.....

This has been a particularly stressful week.  There has been a lot going on, and in the midst of it all my computer problems have continued.  Only part of the software has arrived - and that was missing one of the disks!  What fun!  I'm hoping I can sort it this week, but don't hold your breath!

So, what have I been doing?  Well apart from the general business stuff that goes on each day (made more stressful by the closure of our local post office nearly a year ago now) I spent the day teaching on Wednesday.  No, the teaching wasn't stressful in the least.  It was a lovely group of embellishing students, and I enjoyed the day.  The weather, however, was awful, rainy and dark, and I needed my headlights.  Guess what.  The light switch decided to play up and wouldn't keep the dipped headlights on!  At one point I sat in a car park and tried to fiddle  with them.  The lights flashed on, then off, then on again - and so on.  I was completely oblivious of my surroundings until two large and beefy men got out of the car on the opposite side of the lane in which I was parked and started to walk over towards me.  They didn't look very pleased, and I realised that they thought I was flashing at them!  At that point I decided to drive home on my sidelights and foglamps, smiling sweetly at them as I departed and trying to explain that it was a faulty switch.  I don't think they believed me!  Of course, DH managed to do it with no problems the next day, which made me very cross.....

Thursday was a busy day.  It began with a journey that should have been along the M3 and M25, but both were at a standstill so we had to drive across country.  Part of the journey was through the centre of Slough, we were dreading it, but amazingly we sped through there faster than we could have imagined.  We were on our way to record my second DVD in the 'Inspired' series.  'Inspired Embellishing Level 2' is now 'in the bag' and should be out before Easter.  

It was hard work, but a fun day.

I have to say that the director and crew made it a very pleasant day, and I think we managed it without too many retakes.  You can find out about the 'Inspired' series here, there are lots more to come as far as I know.  Inspired Embellishing Level One is going well and has had lots of kind remarks.  Hopefully it is establishing good machine practice and encouraging experimentation which is what it is all about.....

Here's hoping it's a quiet weekend so that I can sort all my samples and bits and pieces!  They need to go back into the right boxes........

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Embellisher Workshop

As long as there is no snow the workshop in Aldershot this next Wednesday will definitely be running.  There is one place left, so if you had an Embellisher for Christmas this would be ideal to really get you going.  All materials are provided, so you only need to bring your machine and you will be off to a good start.  The workshop is also suitable for anyone that doesn't have a machine but would like to learn about them.  I have loan machines, enough for each individual.

If you would like more information, or to get in touch you can do so here.

If you can't get to the workshop but would still like a good start - there is a lot of information and tips on my DVD

You can buy it directly from my website and read about it here and  here.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Food - or 'How to unintentionally offend'

I have a feeling that someone somewhere will take offence at this post.  I usually talk about a food that I enjoy in a post like this, but today I was reminded of two of my least favourite foods.

Think about pastry.  There are various types, and well made they are delicious whether used for sweet or savoury dishes.  However, when it is badly made it is more than offence to the taste buds!  We don't eat pastry very often but when we do it is usually shortcrust, and I make it - well, by the way, however, I have memories of very bad pastry, and I want to tell you about those now.

My earliest recollection of bad pastry was when I was at school.  I usually went home for lunch, but for reasons I don't need to go into now I always had to have lunch at school on a Friday.  This may not seem a problem at first, but now let me tell you that I went to a convent school - and no meat was served on Friday.  In fact, there was only one dish that was ever served on Friday and that was cheese and potato pie....  We were all convinved that is it was really potato, flour and water pie because there was never any evidence of cheese (it may well have lived on the shelf next to the flour, in retrospect) and the pastry was the hardest most disgusting flour and water crust you have ever seen.  We weren't allowed to leave anything on our plates, so we took it in turns to secrete a bag into the dining room so that we could dispose of  the offending 'pie'.  We would leave the dining room with the 'bag holder' suitably surrounded by the rest of the class, and we didn't get caught once!

I have the same feeling about cornish pasties.  I have never tasted a good one.  One of the problems is the onion.  Onion that is not previously cooked but steamed within a casing is really unpleasant, however the pastry adds nothing to the combination as it is always so thick and hard.  There is a well known brand that is advertised regularly on television and once, a very very long time ago, I was given one to eat.  Memories of that one bite is enough to make me heave, and seeing a well known chef prepare one on TV in a recent re-run brought back all the old horror, even the picture of the finished dish did nothing to alleviate my distress.

So, if I am coming to dinner - please don't serve me cheese and potato pie, even if it is well made - and definitely don't offer me a cornish pasty, well made or not.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

When all goes quiet.....

I'm sure you have all heard enough about the snow!  Suffice it to say that we have had some.  There are no photographs to show you, the reason will become clear shortly, but I have taken lots.  Our road is still only passable with difficulty.  We have had no post since the first flutter and frankly, that first flutter was more than I wanted to see anyway!  So, it came, and it looks as though it will never go away.  We had rain during the night but that just turned to ice, so I'm not looking forward to venturing outside shortly, but we will see.

There is a particular sort of quiet with snow, and that has been apparent in abundance, but it has been particularly quite here as we were also smitten with that disease of communication commonly called computer failure!  Regrettably our failure was fatal, and totally unexpected.  The machine was working at lunchtime but by the time I had eaten my poached egg it was dead.  Apparently the hard drive and mother board aren't functioning and all is lost.  Putting it into perspective - it is a nuisance, however in view of the recent earthquake in Haiti it really is a very small thing, and so we press on.  I have managed to contact a few people - but if you were in touch with me before I would be grateful if you would email me (you will have my address) and send me yours again. 

So here I am sitting in front of a bright (well, dark really, it's black) spanking new computer - with nothing much to do.  Somehow this has managed to find its way through the drifts and blizzards, but all software is hiding deep within igloos or the like.  No post - no software!  I can connect to the internet (this post is proof of that) but apart from that I'm sitting here with nothing to do.  I can't carry on with my book (oops, didn't mean to tell you that), can't download my photograps and can't do any admin.  I've masses of dyeing to do, though, so I'll just have to get on with that - and, of course, prepare for next week when I'm filming Level 2 of Inspired Embellishing.

Have a great day, and Happy Computing!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Monday Memory

I cannot emphasise enough just how blessed I was to have such lovely parents.  They were kind, considerate and extremely loving.  As I get older I appreciate them more and more and know that I could not have achieved so much if they hadn't given me such a wonderful start.  My father worked long shifts.  He would leave early in the morning and on a normal day wouldn't return until after midnight.  I'm sure the unions wouldn't let that happen now, but in those days it was regular.  He worked a shift pattern that ran over two weeks, and mostly included a day off after the long shift - except at weekends, when one weekend in two was worked.

I thought about this again last night.  We all loved his weekends at home, not least because he would do surprising things.  I remember one Saturday.  My grandfather had been very ill and my mother had been helping my grandmother to nurse him.  They only lived around the corner at this time, but it was hard work.  When it was time for her to come home he bundled my brother and I into the car and we drove all of 250 yards to collect her.  This was unusual, but we had no idea why.  Surprised, my mother asked what was happening. 'We're going out for afternoon tea'.

This was very unusual and quite exciting.  However, when we got to our destination there was no obvious tearoom in sight and we couldn't understand why we were there.  Dad explained that it was just along there - at the end of a path, so off we skipped with Mum to find it.  To find what?  There was nothing there.  No tearoom, in fact, it was a dead end and we just had to turn around and go back.  What a disappointment!  Or was it?

When we got back to the car we had such a lovely surprise.  A blanket was spread out on the ground and it was laid with a tasty spread, just ready for afternoon tea!  Dad had not only packed a picnic he had also spent the morning baking so that Mum didn't need to.  We had such fun, and afterwards there was plenty of space for my brother and I to run atound and play.

Thank you Dad and Mum for teaching me that spending time with the family brings its own rewards, and for encouraging me in all that I did.  Sadly my Dad is no longer here, but my Mother continues to encourage in her own sweet way.

Enjoy your family as much as possible.  It makes for very sweet memories. 

Saturday, January 02, 2010

One World, One Heart

Are you taking part this year?  I was too late last year, so I'm prepared now that 2010 is here.  If you click the link below (or in the sidebar) you can find out more details.  In the meantime here are some of the ingredients of my proposed giveaway.  You will have to come back to find out what it is, though, around about 25th January!


Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year

 Russia, Eire, Lithuania, Scotland, Wales, England, Norway and India

All came together to bring in the New Year

As you can see, we celebrated in style and the drinks flowed freely.  I raised a glass to all my internet friends too.

Happy New Year