Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Sketching up a storm

I'm really loving sketching right now, and the early mornings have been particularly successful in getting lots of sketches down. The sunny bank holiday weekend helped too.

Sketching and braiding in the garden
My work desk in the springtime sun

Sketchbook pages
Experimenting with my tools

Sketchbook pages
More experimenting

Sketchbook pages
Playing with crayons and charcoal

Sketchbook pages
Pens and pencils

Poppy seed head in pencil and pen

Sketching poppy heads
And watercolour

My excitement in sketching is all down to the fabulous Sketchbook Delight class by Alisa Burke. I highly recommend it.
Happy sketching x

Saturday, 23 April 2011

A day of sketching and crafting in the sun

Happy Easter Saturday. It's a completely spectacular weekend here in the UK - I have never known it to be this hot in April. Mainly because apparently we haven't seen temperatures like this at Easter since records begun.

So today I've been enjoying the unseasonable weather - I've been sketching, eating, reading and crafting in the sun.

Sketch of a tulip

Crafting in the sun
I don't know what's going on with my skirt here

Despite the glorious weather I have been online quite a bit (okay, a lot). Here are a few links from around the internet that have caught my eye this week...

- This print - "An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail"
- Baked oatmeal - I have porridge with blueberries and bananas every day. This looks like an indulgent alternative.
- The Sketchbook Project 2012 is live - which theme will you choose?
- My friend Lu has got the cutest mugs.

Enjoy the rest of the Easter weekend x

Friday, 22 April 2011

Life is good

I hope you're all enjoying the lovely long weekend. The weather is beautiful. Today a couple of friends came over for lunch - I made the Very Full Tart from Plenty.

It was so delicious and the girls loved it too. Here's the recipe:

1 red pepper and 1 yellow pepper
About 100ml olive oil
1 aubergine, cut into 4cm dice
Salt and black pepper
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3cm dice
1 small courgette, cut into 3cm dice
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 bay leaves
300g shortcrust pastry
8 thyme sprigs, picked
120g each ricotta and feta
7 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 medium free-range eggs
200ml double cream

Heat the oven to 230C/gas mark 8.

Cut around the pepper stalks, then lift out and discard, along with all the seeds. Put the peppers in a small ovenproof dish, drizzle with oil and put on the top shelf of the oven.

Mix the aubergine with four tablespoons of oil and season. Tip into a big baking tin and place on the shelf below the peppers. After 12 minutes, add the sweet potato, stir and roast for 12 minutes more. Now add the courgette, stir and roast for a further 10–12 minutes. By now, the peppers should be brown and the vegetables cooked. Remove everything from the oven and turn the heat to 160C/gas mark 2½. Cover the peppers with foil and leave to cool; once cool, peel and tear into strips.
Meanwhile, heat two tablespoons of oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Sauté the onions with the bay leaves and some salt for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until brown, soft and sweet. Discard the bay and set aside.

Grease a 22cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Roll the pastry to a 3mm-thick circle large enough to line the tin with some overhang. Press it into the edges. Line with baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Bake blind for 30 minutes, lift out the paper and beans, and bake for 10–15 minutes more, until golden brown. Remove and allow to cool a little.

Spread the onions over the bottom, then top with roasted veg. Scatter over half the thyme, dot first with small chunks of both cheeses and then the tomato halves, cut-side up.

Whisk the eggs and cream with some salt and pepper, and pour into the tart; the tomatoes and cheese should remain exposed. Scatter the remaining thyme on top. Bake for 35–45 minutes, until the filling sets and turns golden. Rest for at least 10 minutes, then trim off the excess pastry, remove the tart from its tin and serve.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Decor inspiration via pinterest

I'm planning a little bank holiday redecoration spree. Well redecoration is over stating it a little - there'll be no new paint work or major renovations. Just some sprucing and switching up of details.

Our living room is mainly cream and brown with some metallic thrown in and I think it needs a little colour adding to the party. So I turned to pinterest for some inspiration and green seems to have featured heavily in my pins...

I think by adding some splashes of green I can brighten up my living room for Spring.

Are you planning any decoration projects over the long weekends we have coming up (two 4 day weekends in a row - I can't wait)?

Friday, 15 April 2011

Writing from the heart

I write a lot - I write all day in my job as a communications manager. I write this blog, guest columns and 52 crafts in 52 weeks. I write tweets and Facebook updates.

I always try to be true to my heart and personality when I write (well at work I have to write according to the corporate personality) but I don't very often write my most innermost thoughts and experiences. For that, I have my journal.

I go through phases of writing in it. I do it when I feel I need to get a multitude of thoughts and worries out of my head. So for that reason I often write just before bed and just lately I've added a new section: today I'm grateful for...

Every day I jot down a few things that I'm grateful for on that day. It helps me reflect on the day and remember that even if I've had a bad day and there have been tears, there were good things too.

I don't intend to share all of those thoughts with you but I thought I could share a few of my gratitudes on an occassional basis. I'd love to know what you're grateful for today too - let me know in the comments. x

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

I love Spring

I love the flowers...

I love spring

and I particularly love the rhubarb.

Fresh from the garden

I made a gorgeous rhubarb crumble that I really should've taken a photo of for you but you'll just have to imagine it as it got gobbled up far too quickly. Here's the recipe if you want to try making it yourself.

Rhubarb crumble

5 rhubarb stalks - cut into chunks
1tbsp sugar

3oz butter
3oz golden caster sugar
3oz wholemeal flour
3oz oats

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Put the rhubarb, sugar and some water in a saucepan and heat gently.

Meanwhile mix the butter, sugar and flour together in a food processor (or rub it together by hand). You still want it to be lumpy so don't over process it - you don't want breadcrumbs. Then mix in the oats.

Once the rhubarb has cooked down, check the taste and add more sugar if you need it. Then pour it into an ovenproof dish and cover it with the crumble mixture. Bung it in the oven for about 25-30 mins or until the top is golden brown.

I serve mine with 0% fat Greek yoghurt but custard, cream or ice cream would be just lovely.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Decorate by Holly Becker reviewed

If, like me, you feel you need a little help and advice to get your home just how you want it to be, who better than decor8's Holly Becker to guide you? Her blog is the one I go to first when catching up on my internet reading so as soon as I heard she was writing a book I couldn't wait to place the Amazon order.


I certainly wasn't disappointed. It's so so much more than a pretty book to lay on your coffee table. It is literally crammed with inspiring homes and I love the little anecdotes and wise words from designers, stylists and writers spread throughout the book. Here is one that particularly resonated with me: "The true beauty of a room can be found in its details. Layering up a room with the items you love elevates your space."

My favourite section of the book is 'Setting your style'. I think it's too easy to lose sight of what your own style is when you're bombarded by magazines, blogs and websites from all directions so this is the chapter I'll be studying the most. The 'be your own client' advice is particularly useful.

I will also be playing close attention to 'Creative spaces' as my study desperately needs some help. It's also our spare room so it needs to work twice as hard. So I can't wait to get started on the re-design with Decorate as my guide.

If you love design, your home and want a sneaky peek into beautiful abodes from all over the world, pick up a copy of Decorate and be inspired.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Finding inspiration

I recently wrote about motivation and inspiration on Indie Fixx - pop over and have a little read if you've got a few minutes spare.

And I love this video by Alisa Burke on the subject of inspiration. I'm following her Sketchbook Delight class and it's a really fabulous online workshop. Comprehensive, interesting and full of Alisa's beautiful work.

Isn't it brilliant? Where do you find inspiration?

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Do you know the way?

I just realised I didn't blog my trip to San Jose. Well mainly it rained but I did see some snippets of blue sky. And I did lots of shopping. And a little crafting. It was just lovely to have a break from work and relax.

New scarf
We went to San Francisco for the day... it rained
We enjoyed visiting the sealions
There were some blue skies


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