Tuesday, 9 February 2016

The Watercolour Artist and the Colouring Book

Some folks get a bit sniffy about the new adult colouring books.  'This isn't real art' they will say.  Well, here is a video by a REAL watercolour artist who loves painting in adult colouring books.  Watch, learn, and be inspired!

CLICK HERE to go to YouTube and the video. ENJOY!

Saturday, 6 February 2016

New Way to Tie a Scarf

The rain is pounding against the windowpanes.  The wind is howling in the trees.  Little birds are clinging on to the feeders for dear life, yes, it feels like February here.  Strangely enough, I love winter and all the things that make you feel cosy -like wearing a warm scarf... which brings me to the point of this post.  I just found this nifty illustration on a new way to tie a scarf. 

Remember to bundle up and stay toasty. 

Friday, 5 February 2016

Colouring In for Grown-Ups

Ever since I was a little girl, I loved art supplies.  I had a playroom full of dolls and cuddly toys but what I loved most was a gift my dad bought me when he was away on a business trip.  It was a huge tin box filled with 100 different squares of watercolour paints. 

I would spend hours drawing and then painting in my doodles with the paint from that wonderful tin.  To this day I can't resist a good paint brush or some beautiful coloured pencils.  

Fortunately for me, adult colouring books are now all the rage.  I no longer have to wait for a small child to visit before pulling out the crayons and coloured pencils.

Thanks to my husband, Andy, I have a three new beautiful colouring books to keep my inner child happy.   They are my birthday present, along with some really good quality coloured pencils. 

Some childhood pleasures are so good, you never outgrown them.  Which book should we colour in first?

Monday, 25 January 2016

The Impulse Peony Purchase

Supermarkets are so sneaky.  They have a secret weapon called 'product placement'.   This practise is part psychology, part marketing research, and completely unfair.  For example, they put those chocolate bars right at the checkout counter so even if you managed to steer the shopping cart past the confectionery isle they get you on the way out. 

Even more deviously, they have now put plants directly inside the front doors so you have to walk past the tempting collection of bulbs, pot plants, and tiny shrubs not once but twice!  

So... I managed to resist the check-out chocolate bars but they got me with the £2.50 Sarah Bernhardt peony.  Well, it's worth a punt at that price.  I don't expect to see a great flush of flowers for a year or two... if at all... but there are promising signs of life.  

Friday, 22 January 2016

Harvesting Miniature Pumpkin Seeds

Way back in September I bought three of these miniature pumpkins.  I think they are called Jack Be Little.  I have an unnatural affection for these tiny pumpkins - I put it down to my childhood in the States.  Halloween, hay rides, and pumpkins were a big deal in my youth.

Every autumn I promise myself that I will plant my own diminutive pumpkin patch but so far it hasn't happened.  I forget until it is too late in the season or I can't find the appropriate pumpkin seeds.  Believe me, I have tried.  Last spring Andy and I went to every garden centre within a 50 mile radius of our house. Not a Jack Be Little seed one did we find.

Then it suddenly struck me.... I've already got next year's seeds safely contained in these little pumpkins.   All I had to do was hack them in a half and scoop out the seeds.  This is harder than it sounds.  Even after all this time my little pumpkins are just about perfect.  It seems Jack Be Little is a good keeper.  

I didn't have the heart to hack all of the little pumpkins in half but I did manage to cut into one and found a generous collection of seeds.  I will wash them and leave them somewhere warm to dry out.  Stored in a paper envelop, there should be more than enough seeds to plant LOTS of tiny pumpkin patches. 

As for the rest of the pumpkin, I've nuked it in the microwave. The flesh will make a lovely batch of muffins.  Click HERE for a great muffin recipe.  Simply substitute the cooked pumpkin for the cooked sweet potato in the recipe. 

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

How To Love Leftovers - Mash Potato Bake

So there I stood, peering into the depths of the fridge trying to figure out what to cook for lunch.  Lurking in the frigid gloom was a bowl of leftover mashed potatoes, two rashers of fried bacon, and the end bit of a block of cheddar cheese.  Now, we rarely have left over food.  This is partially because we are greedy and partly because I am pretty good at exercising portion control, so dealing with leftovers is rarely an issue....until today. 

The thing about using leftovers is you have to use your imagination.  Think of flavor combinations and use your instincts.  For example, I know that bacon and cheese make great toppings for baked potatoes so why not combine them with the mash to make a casserole.  I cut the fried bacon into bits and stirred it into the mash potatoes.

An onion, diced and sweated in a little oil was added to the mix along with an egg, a liberal sprinkling of garlic powder, mixed dried herbs, and a dash of salt and pepper for seasoning.  I poured the mixture into a buttered baking dish and topped it with a bit more shredded cheddar.   After about 30 minutes in a hot oven it came out golden brown with lovely bits of toasted cheese on top.

And in just a few moments, all the leftovers were gone!  No recipe required.  

Do you have a favourite way to make the most of your leftovers?  I'd love it if you'd share your ideas in the comments section.