Friday, August 31, 2007

O is for Origami

O is for origami

The perfect for activity for itchy fingers when stuck somewhere with little or no craft stuff and you feel the need to create. Napkins, junk mail, prayer sheets (sorry H), print out headers and other random bits of paper have been turned into flowers, birds or the odd shirt. At work you know which is my desk due to the origami calendar on it. Though I haven't been creating much of late - too much to do!

O could also be for Oranges, Ordinary, Obvious

Thursday, August 30, 2007

N is for Needles

N is for needles

I have a lot of needles, and I am a firm believer in using the right one for the job. Yesterday I got another needle - a special one for Japanese Embroidery.

I was at the Knitting and Stitching show and signed up for a 1 hour Japanese embroidery taster session with Midori Matsushima she was also assisted by a lady from the Japanese Embroidery Guild.

My first bit of Japanese embroidery. In the session I learnt about twisting the silk 4 into 1 and some of the basics: starting, finishing & basic stitching. The techniques are traditional and there are set ways of doing things.

N could also be for necklace, nostalgia, no, nuts

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

M is for Musicals

M is for musicals

My guilty pleasure

M could also be for Mediocre, Mandarin, Mugs

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

L is for Lamps

L is for lamp

Lamps in my house have a tendency to blow up or go "phut", all except the one I wired myself using the base I created in my pottery class many years ago (top left doodle). Whilst I like innovative lighting around my home I have come to realise that I should really invest in lighting which can take energy saving light bulbs. Although, I still like using daylight bulbs in my work room. I currently have a hankering for an antique/vintage wooden lamp base to replace my half dead lamp in the living room (right hand doodle), for which I fancy creating an abstract silk painted shade.

"Narrow streets of cobblestone
'Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp"
Sounds of Silence, Simon and Garfunkel

L could also be for London, love, leftovers, laughter

Monday, August 27, 2007

K is for Kitchenware

K is for kitchenware

Where to begin? I like cooking so I have to have the tools to do so. Don't I? Now I just need a larger kitchen in which to store it all.

"You have too much kitchenware"
My husband

K could also be for Knitting, Kent or Karma.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

J is for Jam

J for Jam

Apricot - best made from fresh but dried apricot jam isn't too bad, although I am finding my Grandmother's recipe a tad sweet. It is excellent, however, for anything that requires a glaze.

Blackcurrant - My favourite with scones and if it is available, clotted cream.

Strawberry - My mum made loads of this each summer as we lived in the Garden of England and always went to a farm and did pick your own Strawberries. Although in my case if you had weighed me before picking and weighed me afterwards then the farmer would have been justified in charging my parents a little more. Whereas raspberries got frozen, the strawberries, after we had had enough fresh, got made into jam because they never froze that well. My grandparents made a different kind of strawberry jam which was frozen but was too runny for my liking. I prefer it now as it manages to preserve a fresher flavour.

Raspberry - The only jam that M will actually consume - at least he isn't fussy about pips. Also good with scones. I have had a long association with this King of jams - it was a key ingredient in the first "recipe" I first came up with : raspberry jam and salami sandwiches. Yum! Bleeeurgh - what was I thinking? It wasn't even nice salami the bright pink stuff sometimes referred to in British supermarkets as Danish Salami. I am sure the Danes would never claim it as their own. Nowadays, I either make Raspberry and Rhubarb jam or an easy one that Nigella has in her book "How to be a Domestic Goddess" (i.e. heat sugar and raspberries in separate dishes in the oven and mix).

Damson and Apple - a rare pleasure as getting hold of damsons is not always straight forward you usually need to have or know someone with a tree in their garden. My mother started calling her jam, cheese in this instance. Delicious all the same.

Marmalade - not a jam, it is marmalade, but very nice all the same. Yeah, I know its just oranges preserved in a similar way but it is never ever jam. Not in my book it isn't and this is my b(ook)log.

"Ooh, yeah! All right!
We're jammin':
I wanna jam it wid you.
We're jammin', jammin',
And I hope you like jammin', too."
Jammin', Bob Marley

J could also be for Jewellery, Jinx, Jokes

Monday, August 13, 2007

I is for Ink

I is for Ink

I remember my first interaction with ink was instigated by my Primary School headteacher's (aka Mrs. Cornflakes) endless obsession with italic handwriting, which to this day has left me with schizophrenic handwriting. For this weekly death by penmanship I had a fountain pen which required filling from a bottle of royal blue ink. Royal blue was chosen over blue-black or black ink as it was, allegedly, washable - the best choice for a 10 year child not in control of a fountain pen.

It was a few years before I discovered the range of colours inks came in. There was one, albeit, short period during my years at secondary school where my teachers were subjected to turquoise ink.

As time wore on I switched to the ball point pen and my relationship with messy ink waned, until I started my C&G course. Now I use it as an essential art material and use it to create washes and splash about on papers for design. More recently, I have discovered sumi-e, Japanese ink painting. I was introduced to it on a small workshop held at a local National Trust workshop, I believe it is being held again this year. Tempting, but I suspect the day job and a little overtime may intervene.

"Money's only paper only ink
We'll destroy ourselves if we can't agree"
Paper and Ink, Tracy Chapman

I could also be for isolation, impatience, introspection, ice cream.

H is for Hampshire

H is for Hampshire

This is a sketch of Farley Mount one of many landmarks in Hampshire. This is a monument erected in honour of a horse. It was originally established in 1734, but it is believed to have been rebuilt in the next century. I was born and grew up in another county, but my mother was born and grew up here and I visited often as a child. I spent some of the holidays and a few weekends at my Grandparents in Chandlers Ford. Sometimes we would go to Farley Mount to walk Bunty the dog and fly kites my Grandad had made out of black plastic bin bags and bamboo canes.

Since those days I have made Hampshire my permanent home with no intentions of leaving. I cross country cycle round Farley Mount these days, as well as a whole load of other locations - no better place for it! My husband is a Hampshire lad too. We have countryside, historic cities, great beer - what more could I want?

" Mother, I can never come home again
'cause I seem to have left an important part of my brain somewhere

Somewhere in a field in Hampshire.
Sorted for E's & Whizz, Pulp

H could also be for Hip Hop, Happiness, Hearts, Health

Sunday, August 12, 2007

G is for Garden

G is for Garden

"Forget what we're told
Before we get too old

Show me a garden that's bursting into life
Chasing Cars, Snow Patrol

G could also be for guilt, grandparents, ghastly, green

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

F is for Flowers

F is for Flowers

I love receiving flowers and giving them to me is a sure fire way to cheer me up. When I got married all my flowers were red roses. I love painting lilies on silk. Gerberas make me feel happy - especially red ones. I treated myself to a bunch of flowers and they had all 3 of these flowers in the bouquet. I don't wait for my husband to buy me flowers, 3 times in the first 9 years of our relationship, so I make sure that I get them once in a while.

You hit me with a flower

You do it every hour

Ohh, baby you're so vicious"

Vicious, Lou Reed

F could also be for felt, food, fussy, fabulous, France

Monday, August 06, 2007

E is for Embroidery

E is for Embroidery

I started an Embroidery City and Guilds course because I wanted to learn a bit more about textile art, the process of design and to meet some more like minded people. I first learnt some basic embroidery stitches as a young child. My first piece of stitching ever was a mat which I did in infant school using stranded cotton and a wide spaced counted thread fabric. Other embroidery projects were rather old fashioned - a half finished dressing table set and an antimascar. The latter which I finished and gave to my grandparents, which, they did use it for the rest of the life of that chair. My Grandparents loved me very much.

Oh yeah - I DON'T DO CROSS STITCH (even in irony). Most counted thread techniques don't appeal to me at all. I prefer more contemporary and abstract designs especially if it means it doesn't matter if I lose count.

"And needle point aside
I always find
Embroidery leaves me blind
Cos I'm too weary to rest"
Goldfish and Paracetamol, Catatonia

E could also be for enjoyment, easy, education, encourage

D is for Dentist

D is for Dentist

For some people its spiders, some cows, others open spaces for me my pet fear is going to the dentist (well one of them anyway). It probably stems from some of the fluoride treatment my mother insisted my sisters and I had. One treatment session ended up with me vomiting over the dentist performing the work - justifiable revenge. I didn't mind my orthodontist so much but that was probably only because he didn't pull any teeth out, drill any or ever scrape them.

As soon as I went to Uni. I didn't keep up my appointments and succeeded in not visiting the dentist for 5 years. However, I had to find one very quickly when I had infected wisdom teeth. I got away without having too much work being required but the wisdom teeth got pulled at the General Hospital under local anaesthetic and a bit of "jungle juice" (the only time I ever got high - and it was legal). I think the consultant recognised trouble when he saw me and made sure my worry levels were kept to a minimum.

I now don't worry too much about going to the dentist - can I really be scared of a man who once danced along to Abba in my next door neighbours kitchen at midnight. On the other hand don't answer that! No, he is a reassuring chap as well as patient - he spends a lot of time gradually coaxing me into the chair.

"The dentist's chair is the only time
That anybody ever looks at their mouth
Let the dentist give their teeth something to chatter about"
A Little Piece of Advice, The Beautiful South

D could also be for diet, doodling, Dorset buttons

Saturday, August 04, 2007

C is for Curry

C is for Curry

When I was a little girl, curry meant a generic sauce in which my Mum would mix cold roast meat and serve on the side an assortment of things such as banana, sultanas, apple slices, peanuts and other stuff I can't remember because I probably didn't like them. The first time my parents took me to the local tandoori house I realised that curry was much more than the dish served back home.

After I moved out of home and started cooking for myself more I found myself cooking for the new man in my life. He always appreciated my cooking, anything curry related especially. Now we are married I still cook him curry.

Favourite curry books:

The Indian Pantry, Monisha Bharadwaj (reprint here)
A Taste of Goa, Mridula Baljekar
The Balti Cookbook: Fast, Simple and Delicious Stir-fry Curries, Shehzad Husain
50 Great Curries of India, Camellia Panjabi
Thai Home Cooking: Quick, Easy and Delicious Recipes to Make at Home, Robert Carmack & Sompon Nabnian

I am currently watching this lady on the Beeb.

My Favourite Curries:
Balti Chilli Chicken
Thai Red Chicken Curry
Jhinga Caldeen
Murg Rashida
Navratan Korma

"Me and me Mum and me Dad and me Gran
We're off to Waterloo
Me and me Mum and me Dad and me Gran
And a bucket of Vindaloo"
Vindaloo, Fat Les

C could also be for cooking, couching, cycling (yes I'm addicted), craft

Friday, August 03, 2007

B is for Bicycle

B is for Bicycle

Every day I grow more in love with my bike. Sometimes I refer to it as my baby, but I think that is taking things a little too far. I bought this after my first fall off my previous bicycle which was a hybrid with no front suspension and stupid pointless hybrid tyres which are only any good for road riding (so you might as well have a bike dedicated to uh road riding). I realised that if I wanted to do any more cross country bike riding I needed something that didn't give me back ache and gave me a sense of being in control. After a test ride on a friends bicycle I knew I had met the perfect bike for me.

I pootled around on my new bike at weekends for a while and then M suggested riding to work on it. To encourage me further he even bought me a luggage rack and some slick tyres which he puts on my bike during the week. Year or two later now and I have improved my journey time to work by skimming 10 minutes off my original time. Door to desk (with a shower included) is just under an hour. So I get my exercise boost and travel to work all in one and I don't even have to go to the gym - just one reason why I love my bike. Others are:
  • I have lost 16 lbs in the last year and still eat like a horse.
  • A bit more independence - not reliant on a car all the time.
  • Weekend rides means I get to see a lot more of the countryside - I didn't realise how beautiful Hampshire was until I started riding off-road.
  • It is a great way to socialise and gossip with your mates whilst being "virtuous" and getting some exercise.
  • I feel like a kid again.
"Bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like "
Bicycle Race, Queen

My car

B could also be for blogging, black dog, buttonholes, blue

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A is for Asthma

A is for Asthma
I have mild asthma, I have had it ever since I was a child. As it was not as severe as my older sister's nobody really took it that seriously. I was never in and out of the doctor's surgery or took time off school because of it. I did, however, try to avoid exercise for most of my childhood and teens because of it. Especially when the air was cold. The tightness in my chest was excruciating and put my lack of performance down to being lazy, unfit or just plain rubbish at sport. It didn't affect playing tennis (the only sport I liked) very much but that was probably due to the fact that I didn't bother running about much and I could get a lucky break with a killer back hand and a natural top spin.

I only had one major asthma attack and that was after a particularly exhausting PE lesson on a hot day and then going into the drama studio where the windows were open and the grass was being mown outside. I requested for windows to be closed but the english teacher was a bit scathing. Minutes later I was being sent to the sick room and somebody was tracking down my sister to get her inhaler. I returned to the class later feeling much better, to find a slightly pink & guilty looking english teacher and the windows closed. I was then taken along to the doctors where I was prescribed some inhaler which I didn't take as it didn't work. A few years later when registering with a new GP on arrival at Uni. the first thing they did was prescribe me a Salbutamol based inhaler. A puff of that before exercise and I could cycle, row or ballroom dance to my hearts content. I am still rubbish at sport.

"And don't forget your ventolin
So a hammering in my head don't stop
In the bullet train from Tokyo to Los Angeles."
Hammering in my Head, Garbage

A could also be for: Appliqué, Awkwardness, Art

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Back from the impromptu hiatus

I realise I haven't posted in about a month and I have let things slip a bit since the end of year exhibition.

C&G 2006-2007

My main area of focus has been my at-least-a-page a day sketchbook some of which I have shown in some previous posts. Since the end of April I have kept up to date and have now finished my first sketchbook. I am pleased with a number of pages, indifferent to some and embarrassed about others. They are all staying as they journal my life from spring into, erm, summer. It has also, I hope, improved my hand and eye coordination with regards to drawing and painting. Though I have been only too happy to just doodle with the pen or do something abstract with my dye paint palette.

There have been a fair few entries making reference to rain.

A lot of pages were done when I was on holiday in Tuscany during June.

A bit of food

and some collage.
Collage 1Picnic Collage

For my new visual journal I will be taking my inspiration from Bella Dia with her Encyclopedia of Me meme. So during the month of August, I will make my way through the alphabet and blog for each letter, with an accompanying doodle, painting, drawing from my sketchbook. As the alphabet is only 26 letters long and August has 31 days it will give me a little leeway to achieve this - I will need to choose my days off wisely.

As this started this all, I think I now have another book to add to my must read list.

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