Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Odds and Sods

We talked about it before, but there are a lot of differences between the Queen's English and American English.   Take this little phrase for example, 'Odds and Sods'. 

In America we would say 'odds and ends' or 'bits and pieces'.

Whatever phrase you use, it all means the same thing; nothing of any value just a collection of miscellaneous things.

That's what happens when you begin learning a craft like my pottery project. You pass on all the good bits and are left with the odds and ends; the experiments, the accidents, and the things that went awry.  

So if you come 'round for tea, you may get served cookies from a wonky bowl but that's part of crafting.  You just have to get used to seeing all the odds and sods!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Keeping an Eye on the Patch

All cats have a territory they consider to be their own.  Here in Britain, they call it a 'patch'.   Our little cat considers the allotments which lie behind our house to be HIS patch.

By night, he patrols his patch, making endless trips to and from the kitchen to have a nibble of food or warm his paws.  

Nothing escapes his steely gaze.  He knows every bug, mouse, hedgehog, and fox living in the allotments.  

All through the night he guards his patch, his house, and his people. Occasionally he will bring us a mouse for a midnight snack but most nights he spends watching and waiting until dawn.

Then it's time for a snack and a snooze and his arch rival, the Siamese cat, takes over the patch.  Well, no one can keep guard 24 hours a day!  

Friday, 17 January 2014

Pretty Pallet Upcycling Ideas!

I love the look of rustic wood and recycling pallets is a great way to get that look. Here are some clever uses for old pallets or any recycled wood you may have at hand. 

This kitchen shelf looks great but it would be brilliant in any room of the house.  

Use old wallpaper to make a Shabby Chic wall hanging.  I'm tempted to try this with an old poster.

This clever pot ladder would be great in a small garden.  Think herb garden and lean it next to your kitchen door.  These are Anji Connell's great upcycling projects.  CLICK HERE to see more of Anji Connells' clever ideas.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Bowled Over!

I have been bowled over by your support and encouragement after I shared a few photos of my little pots with you on the Internet.  I took a break from the potter's wheel for Christmas but I am back at work.

If you've requested a bowl, I hope to be sending you one soon.  Thanks for your kind words and patience.  It's been a pleasure potting for you.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Cupcake Liner Lids

Have you ever seen something so simple and so obvious that it made you smack yourself upside the head and say 'Why didn't I think of that?'

Well, that's what just happened to me.  I saw this clever trick only it was under the ring of a Mason Jar.   So I thought, why not use a paper cupcake liner to decorate the top of a jam jar!

It's cheaper and easier than cutting out all those fabric circles traditionally used to decorate jam and chutney.  Just put a paper cupcake liner over the top of the jar lid, secure it with a rubber band, and tie with a bit of brightly coloured ribbon or string. 

I honestly don't know why I didn't think of this before! 

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Over the Fence or The Empress of Blandings

The day before the night before Christmas a storm of gale force winds took down part of our garden fence.  The stable parts we left standing, until yesterday when Andy began to take them down.   One never really knows what's lurking behind the garden fence.  Our neighbours are fastidious about their home and garden so imagine our surprise to encounter this....

 THE EMPRESS OF BLANDINGS!  (The size of a REAL p-i-g!) 

There she sat, serene and regal behind the stonework of our old garden fence.

Goodness knows how long she has been there patiently waiting to be introduced to her neighbours. 

It seemed as if she offered to let me scratch her back.   At first, I found her a bit unnerving but she is beginning to grow on me.  This time next week her smiling piggy face will be hidden behind our new fence.  

You just never know what you'll find JUST on the other side of the garden fence!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Not So Naughty Biscotti

First of all,  let me wish you a very Happy New Year!   I'm not a big fan of the 'clean slate and resolutions' attitude towards New Year.  The fact I've never made a New Year's Resolution I could keep might have something to do with it. For example, how many people have resolved to go on a diet?  I can't make it to lunch before breaking a diet!  That brings us to this recipe for 'Not So Naughty' Biscotti.  

I know I am going to keep eating sweets through the New Year so I thought it would be a good idea to look for some damage limitation recipes.  This biscotti recipe isn't made with butter and only uses 3/4 cup of sugar!   I know, it's practically diet food!  

For this recipe you will need:

3 eggs
3/4 sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil - I used canola oil
2 Tablespoons of milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

Begin by pre-heating the oven to 350F/160C.  Line two baking sheets with baking paper and set them to one side while you prepare the dough.

Place the sugar and eggs into a large mixing bowl and beat them together for 2 or 3 minutes.  Add the oil and milk beating again to combine. Stir in the vanilla extract and the baking powder.  Using a wooden spoon, add the flour one cup at a time, stirring well before adding the next cup of flour.  The dough gets very stiff so you may want to use your hands to knead in the last cup of flour.  

Divide the dough in half and make two logs of dough about 9 inches long and about 3 inches wide.  Place the dough logs onto the parchment lined baking sheets.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until they are firm to the touch.  Let the biscotti logs cool for several minutes then cut them into 1/2 inch thick slices. 

Turn the heat up to 375F/190C.  Place the biscotti slices, cut side down, on the baking sheets and return them to the oven.  Bake for an additional 10 - 15 minutes or until the biscotti are golden brown and crispy.  It helps if you turn them over half way through the second baking.  

Place the biscotti on a wire rack to cool completely.  Store them in an airtight container and enjoy them, practically guilt free, with a cup of coffee or a mug of tea.  I think my New Year's Resolution will be to NOT give up my mid-morning treat.  It may be the first one I actually keep!

This recipe was slightly adapted from The Brown Eyed Baker