Oh dear, oh dear…it’s been a long time. I’m not quite sure what happened, except that like everything else in life blogs become more difficult to return to the longer you leave them! I genuinely didn’t realise how long it had been since I last posted. In fact, my absence wasn’t for lack of anything to say; I’ve been working at various craft and cooking projects over the past few months, a good number of which I’ve been extremely satisfied with. I’ve even sold one of my papercut pieces – without really intending to, I might add, although I was extremely flattered and pleased to have been asked to sell.
I’ve clearly also missed blogging about the build-up to Christmas; as usual, I made a number of presents this year, including more chutneys as well as some sloe, hawthorne and rowan jelly, but was prevented from making more than I did by my ridiculous procrastination with one particular present, for my sister. Isn’t it frustrating how something that would usually come to you so easily turns into a gruelling slog as soon as you decide to make it for a specific reason?
Hopefully I’ll be able to catchup with some highlights of what I did up until the end of 2011, but overall I’m going to pretend that the unfortunate blip of the last couple (well, maybe more like ‘few’) months didn’t happen, and just keep writing. Although weirdly, according to the traffic report, I’ve actually been receiving a steady flow of visitors every day right through my little hiatus – more, in fact, than I had been receiving previously. Hmm… Well, a warm welcome to all my new readers, and I hope the presence of an actual author here doesn’t put you off!
Finally, a picture from warmer months, to keep you going in these grey and gloomy times. Happy New Year to all.
For a couple of hours yesterday afternoon, the sun came out, meaning that thanks to the greenhouse effect of the bay window in our front room, the part of the room just in that patch of sunlight was the warmest place in the house. It seemed a good time therefore to embark on a project that I’ve been meaning to do for months: painting the trunks.
When we moved into this house in August, we brought with us two wooden travelling trunks that came from the attic of my great aunt’s house, which is currently being emptied (she moved into a nursing home two years ago but her house was very full!) Both of the trunks had been used by my great-uncle’s uncle (this could get confusing) when he was out in South Africa pre-Great War, and one was subsequently used by my great-uncle when he went away to school. Both of them are fairly plain (we also have a lovely canvas-slatted one that has to be aired before we bring it inside) but I still took a shine to them. Bearing in mind that our house has no storage space whatsoever they are coming in handy for hiding away some of our clutter, and they are also both in use as tables. The only problem is that they are (were) both pretty tatty looking, one being a murky brown and the other a swamp green shade. No problem…a splash (or so) of ‘French Turquoise’ and one at least is transformed!
I hope to get some silver or dark copper paint for the handles, and at some point I’ll probably do a bit of stencilling, but it looks so much better already! And it was lovely and warm in the sun… Here’s the trunk this morning (the cards are all out because I thought it was time to gather up all the ones I’d made over the past couple of weeks from their various resting places!)
And to end, here’s a pic of the papercut card I made last night. I like the wonky style, I think it has a slight ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ quality. And as soon as I get some more batteries for my camera, this will be going on sale in my shop if you’re interested!
I made these two papercuts last night: they’re both versions of the partridge in the pear tree (pears are actually quite difficult shapes to cut!) but I don’t think I’ll be making a series of the Twelve Days of Christmas. I did optimistically think about it for a minute or two, and then realised that I would in all likelihood get a bit fed up with the lords a’leaping and maids a’dancing.
I also found these lying on the floor under the radiator (probably shouldn’t admit that…). I did these a couple of weeks ago, didn’t get as far as backing them, and apparently abandoned them. I quite like the ‘Christmas’ one, and would have liked the curly tree if I hadn’t messed up at the top – this is what happens when you do these things while watching Eastenders!
Right, now I have to go and find my Arctic wear…we got home from Glasgow planning to do a big Tesco order (we don’t have a car) and stock up with everything we’d need if we had bad weather, as well as with all the stuff I need to start making Christmas presents. Er…now Tesco aren’t delivering because of the snow, our veg delivery couldn’t get through, and we have no food – well, except for a huge sack of rice, lots of herbs and spices and a few random odds and ends… So we have to attempt a trip down a big hill to the supermarket and hope a taxi will be able to get close enough to our house to allow us to get enough food!
The title says it all really. It’s cold today – that unpleasant sort of cold that Britain excels in, when it’s dull, grey and wet outside, the lights have to be on all day, and you feel chilled all the way through. I’m wrapped up in a thick woolly jumper with fluffy socks, but it took a hot water bottle to finally defrost me (that’s it until March now!) Admittedly the heating isn’t on yet, its due on at 4 (3 hours to go!) because we’re on a money-saving mission. But still – after a near miss with the scalpel blade, the paper-cutting is out until my fingers warm up!
So I thought I’d show what warming treat I made myself for dinner last night (my partner was out): Garlic Chilli Prawns. Mm…
(NB: Unfortunately I forgot to take pics until halfway through, but it’s not hard to imagine the first stages!)
Raw peeled king prawns (approx. 15-20)
1/4 red pepper, diced
1/4 courgette, diced
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
1/2 – 1 tsp red chilli paste
Pasta/noodles to serve
- In a wok or heavy based frying pan, heat approx. 1/2 tbsp olive oil, then add garlic and chilli and stir well.
- Meanwhile, add pasta to salted boiling water.
- Add the diced pepper and stir for a minute or two, then add the courgette and continue to stir-fry until the pepper is softening and the courgette is becoming golden.
- Add the raw prawns together with salt and pepper to season, and give the pan a little shake. Allow the prawns to turn pink on one side, then turn them over and colour the other. I like the prawns to start almost caramelising, so I try not to stir them around too much.
- The pasta should be done by now – drain it, and add the pasta to the prawns and sauce. Mix in well so that the pasta is well coated with all of the flavours, and tip onto a plate, making sure that all the juices from the pan are included.
- Et voila! I like to sprinkle a little fresh parmesan over at this point, but sadly at the moment we’re out so I had to make do. It still tastes pretty good though!
In the past few days I’ve become worryingly addicted to what I’ll call ‘papercutting’ for want of a better word (although I’ve not seen anything quite like what I’ve been doing when I google that!) One night I had a tiny scrap of card – about 1″sq – left over from a card I’d been making earlier on, and on impulse found my craft knife and started to cut into the card. I ended up making a silhouette of a Christmas tree with a couple of presents underneath it, all surrounded by a border. I liked the look of this when I set it against some coppery card, so I turned it into a card (left). Then I kept going…
So moving away from the Christmas theme, this is what I made a couple of days ago:
This really is so addictive!