Google Analytics

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Honk's hoodie

Just before Christmas, I completed a project for my friend Mr Albus Honk. I knew that he dislikes the cold, and also that he has a keen sense of style so it was a no-brainer really. I dipped into the Bernat website and came up with this:

Confused? How about this picture?

No? Ok, here is a picture of Mr Honk modelling the goods:

Exhausting business, modelling.

Oh and here is one of the hood in the upright position:

And a side shot of course.

Despite a couple of my colleagues threatening to call the RSPCA after seeing these photos, I can honestly say that Mr Honk seemed to enjoy his new hoodie and its warmth. In fact, soon after these pics were taken, he snuggled up on L's lap and fell asleep which is not usually the sign of an animal in distress.

This also means that Albus has something to wear underneath his natty Barbour jacket to keep that nasty chill away, good and proper.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Curiosity update

So glad that my curious 'victim' liked her parcel! See her reaction here.

It feels oddly voyeuristic to see your own package being unwrapped, but very satisfying too. Glad to bring a little extra festive cheer!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Curiosity Project

Have you heard of the Curiosity Project? Personally I think it's run by someone who felt that there were simply not enough interesting packages sent through the post anymore. I vehemently agree, and therefore signed up.

The concept it simple; when you sign up, your address is sent to another like-minded member of the Curiosity community along with a short description of yourself. A few days later, you are sent an address and description of your own 'target'.

It is then up to you to put together a little box of curiosities for your target (spending limit around £20) and send it off to them in time for Christmas. A lovely idea I think. Especially as, after an initial fit of creativity, I completely forgot about it until a large, wonderful mystery parcel arrived for me a couple of days ago..

Even the box was hand-decorated!! Curiouser and curiouser indeed.

Inside the box was an array of Christmassy items:

- Nana's Christmas biscuit recipe, complete with Christmas tree cookie cutter.

- An advent candle.

- A pair of silver bells.

- A pot of shimmery, cola flavoured lip gloss.

- Christmassy ribbons.

- Hand-made candy cane earrings.

- Hand warmer.

- Christmas buttons.

- A chocolate 'sanity clause'. This one I found particularly touching.

I'll let you read the notes for each, but I really was amazed at the time and effort that 'J' had put into this very personal package. This definitely injected some Christmas spirit into my life!

And made my get my behind into gear and send my own parcel. My target described herself as very creative and crafty, so I didn't find it too difficult to think of items to include.. As regular readers will know, my Christmas crafting is well under way, so I thought I would include a couple of samples:

- One boxy pouch for creative projects.
- One home-made jar of orange, plum and cinnamon jam.
- One silver apple charm (made in the silver clay class).
- One length of vintage trim to be creative with.

All fitted inside a box and nestled into some tissue paper and sparkly stuff:

I hope they enjoy unwrapping it, as much as I enjoyed putting it together!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Wreath encounter

Ok, first of all apologies for the shamelessly cheesy title - I just couldn't help myself. Second of all, where did November go? Surely the proliferation of comedy moustaches should have been a warning in itself.. Oh well, time to get into the Christmas spirit.

And nothing gets me into the Christmas spirit more effectively than a visit to the countryside at this time of year. You may remember last year's wreaths? It was once again time to raid my parents' garden for greenery and get busy with the green wire.

As usual I didn't really have a set idea of what I wanted, but gradually something resembling what I was after was built up:

The finished article:

Of course it not only has to *look* like Christmas, but also *smell* like it. Hence the need to realise this 'pain d'epices' recipe. Mmmmm..

A bit like gingerbread, but the type you can legitimately have for lunch with butter and cheese!
At least a little of the Christmas spirit was spread to London:

I feel slightly more ready for December now.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Invasion of the boxy pouches

Oh yes, the Christmas present production line continues!
This weekend, several more boxy pouches popped into being:

I've tweaked the pattern slightly to make the design more seamless and avoid any raw edges on the inside. I'm just a bit particular like that.
Obviously you'll recognise the Hello Kitty for Liberty fabric, but I also recently fell for some wonderfully quirky and colourful whale print fabric from Saints and Pinners.

I might have to keep at least one of these for myself..

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Christmas chutney production - Batch 1

Apart from my brief introduction at The Make Lounge, I have never actually made chutney. I never before saw the point of putting stuff on cheese, which in my opinion was already rather tasty. In recent years though, probably due to my more regular visits to various London wine and cheese establishments, I have warmed to the idea.

After one such visit the other evening, I decided it was time to have a go myself (and perhaps some home made chutney could make good Christmas presents too?).

Ok, the first thing about chutney is that it seems to involve a lot of chopping. This lovely recipe for pear, date and cinnamon chutney really put me through my paces. Chopping up 450g of shallots resulted in a little breathing difficulty, although the veggies themselves were very pretty (perhaps I was a little high on onion fumes by then):

Bubbling away on the stove, the chutney smelled a lot like Christmas shot through with vinegary tones. It struck me that I wouldn't really know if the chutney was a 'success' or not straight away as I'm told that the jars need to 'mature' for a month or two before being eaten. Oh the stress of potentially giving away something rank for Christmas! I guess it's a possibility I'll have to live with..

After sterilising the jars in the oven, it was simply a matter of ladling away until all the little containers were full up. Nine jars in all - not bad for an evening's work.

Now all I need is one of those fancy chalk pens from Ryman's and a little fabric for prettifying. Oh and a month of 'maturation' time..

Sunday, 6 November 2011


Cinnamon has to be one of my absolute favourite spices, both for sweet and savoury dishes. Hence I have been carrying this recipe for Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake around in my bag for a couple of weeks. *Finally* this weekend I got my behind in gear to make it. I mean, does it get much better than a fusion between cinnamon rolls and cheesecake?

The faff of three different mixtures was intriguing enough to spur me through the seemingly endless washing up of bowls, and soon the cheesy, vanillary, cinnamony creation was puffing itself up in the oven.

The end result was satisfyingly golden brown and fragrant:

After four (excruciating) hours of cooling off in the fridge, it was time for the cream cheese frosting:

I think I made the frosting a touch too runny, so shoved the whole thing back in the fridge pronto, before the topping could make a dash over the edge of the cake..

Final result? An interesting mixture of cakey cinnamon roll and gooey vanilla cheese cake - yes it's as good as it sounds! I'm off to have my second slice of the evening.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Kitty Christmas

Time for a small celebration: my first Christmas present has been created. Out of the fabled Hello Kitty for Liberty fabric, no less.

So that's one down and ... how many to go?!

Probably *this* many:

At least I had the presence of mind to cut out a load of fabric to the correct sizes while I was at it:

So now all I have to do is find a free weekend.. *slightly hysterical laughter*

Sunday, 16 October 2011

An evening with the Minotaur

I have frequented the Old Vic Tunnels once before for a play, but last Friday it was time to return to experience it in a slightly different, more culinary way called 'Pret a Diner'.

The experience was a collaboration between gallery group Lazarides and catering provocateurs Kofler & Company so therefore included an arty bit and a dining bit. We arrived a little early to have a poke about the tunnels and happened upon some very interesting pieces.

The below kaleidoscopic work is by Zak Ove:

Surreal portraits by Michael Najjar. We never did work out whether it was photography, or hyper-real painting:

Atma is behind the installation below:

Vhils describes his technique as 'vandalism art', having chiselled this portrait directly out of the wall.

Stanley Donwood is apparently Radiohead's official artist. Behold his mine made of rats:

In case you didn't believe me about the rats:

One of my favourite pieces was Doug Foster's ever-evolving projection. Oddly mesmerising and relaxing, it was possible to let your imagination run wild and see everything from faces to jellyfish, ever changing and reflected in the water beneath the screen:

We also found a labyrinth. Obviously you can't have an art exhibition centred around The Minotaur without one. It seemed dangerous:

Thankfully it wasn't all that scary. Just a lot of darkness, black lights, weird noises, mirrors and the odd flashing lights.

The Minotaur herself? Nope, just me and my glowie teeth.

Ah, so then came our turn to dine. One of the side tunnels had been decked out in a sumptuous, baroque-derelict style:

It was rather hot and humid in there, but we were soon brought refreshment in the form of wine, and a bag of bread:

There appeared to be two set menus to choose from (Ollysan & Nuno Mendes), each with three courses. Sadly two of the courses from each menu appeared to feature fish, much to M's disappointment (he generally feels that fish reminds him of public loos and is hence unable to bring himself to eat it). The waiter helpfully informed us that there was no alternative, and that we weren't able to 'mess with the food' as he eloquently put it.

I am a huge sushi fan, but can understand that it's not to everyone's taste so couldn't quite fathom why they didn't at least have a veggie option..

More fish-fest:

Half-way through the meal two manager-looking types stopped by our table and asked whether everything was alright. When we mentioned the fact that it was a shame there was no veggie alternative they looked shocked and told us that of course there was a vegetarian menu! Argh. None of them actually offered to bring it to us though.

Oh well, when the third course arrived M could finally tuck into some very nice steak and we all agreed that this was the best of all the food we had enjoyed that evening - even though it did take an age to arrive.

In the end we got a free bottle of wine, 20% off the bill and various serving staff coming up to us and make heart-felt apologies about either the waiting time or the lack of knowledge about the veggie menu. We were also offered one free dessert, but what use was that when we were six people dining? We did all have a fabulous evening though, despite the slight service disaster.

On the way out, we spotted this sign combo: "This is not a pop-up restaurant. This is a dining experience." You can say that again! Time to head for the exit..

We were secreted into the 'graffiti tunnel' that links Lower Marsh to the Southbank and took a while to admire the various layers of spraypaint. We also took in 'the car that wasn't there':

Then we dispersed, sated and happy after an interesting evening of weird art, waiters with weird moustaches and weird food. We all felt very urban-cool indeed.