A busy week

Still loving tulips! These look so fresh and clean.

I remade the salt dough wall plaque:

After a long, slow bake it was painted with acrylics. But it would have been much improved with brighter colours. It’s dull. Possibly Fugly, even.  There. I do know. I’ve since added some reds, olives and oranges to my stash so the next ‘masterpiece’ (lol) will be much better. And maybe holly leaves weren’t the best choice for an all-year round ornament. I have a book with some lovely salt dough templates that I think I’ll have a go at, including a mother goose wall plaque which would work well as a kitchen ornament – maybe add a key holder so it could be functional as well.. We shall see. Always got lots of things I want to do and other ideas may shove it to the bottom of my priorities. I like to keep myself occupied and constantly look for inspiration and things to do.

A very cold Sunday justified having the oven on again and the baking bits came out. I love Bundt tins and have a few but my favourite is a mini cottage tin. I have tried, with varying degrees of success, to bake with them and get the cakes out intact. On this occasion I made up a Victorian  chocolate sponge mixture and instead of the usual cake release spray (which I can always taste and find disgusting, btw) I melted some coconut oil, brushed it into the nooks and crannies with a pastry brush then dusted liberally with drinking chocolate powder to coat the molds and was delighted to find each little cake pretty much fell out of the tin. That’s a note to self I shan’t forget.

Even after dusting with some icing sugar, I couldn’t get them picture perfect but they were perfectly formed. I sliced their bottoms off and gave each one a generous layer of chocolate buttercream and enjoyed a couple. There was plenty of mixture left to make up some for cupcake treatment:

Went a bit mad with the edible glitter….. Good cakes, though IMHO… ha ha

Eggshells? Yes. There’s a tutorial I want to have a go at: Fantasy Broken Egg Photo Manipulation by Picture Fun on You Tube. The pic will have to be cleaned up in Photoshop before I carry on to create a fantasy scene. I’m thinking of filling it with flowers and have birds and/or butterflies flying out from within. Inspirational tutorials are such a brilliant ways of picking up new techniques; there’s always something to be learned in the Adobe applications and I like to keeps my skills live.

Found some useful stitch brushes on Vecteezy – I can’t remember what the collection was called but if you search for free Ps stitch brushes on the site you’ll find plenty.

Sunday, in the drizzling rain, I was outside planting some hebes, fuschias and succulents and doing a bit of weeding. Dandelions, like cockroaches, I believe would survive a nuclear attack. They are so hardy, so robust and so stoic in the face of the most brutal of lawn mowings that I believe they will survive anything. Within a few hours of a good number one mow, they were regrouping, stalks up and regrowing. Hard core survivalists! I know that to eradicate them I’d have to dig deep and get their taproots out but, ruddy hell, that would be hard work. The seedheads, or clocks (did you blow them and say one O’ clock, blow – two O’ clock, etc, when you were little? Not totally accurate, were they….?) are charming and pretty. I give them a quick ssssshhtt with hairspray, then cut their stalks and pop them into little glass jars for decoration. They last for ages. Oh so sweet.

Painting and decorating is ongoing. The downstairs is like a tip. Again. But progress is being made and I can see it’s starting to look good. But lots still to do.

I popped out to Sew ‘n’ Sew for some dark tweed to make a new cushion cover for the rocking chair (was looking for a good charcoal colour) but they were out. No matter, they had some really nice light blue/grey wool felt and, even better, at 30% off. Brought it down to just over €20 for a metre. As soon as I saw it, I thought ‘Luna Lapin’:

I’ve had the book a year or so now and still not made her up!

I did finish off a Tilda hare though and gave her a woolen felt suit:

A bead necklace completed the look and she’s Project Fashion Runway.  Smart enough to attend a royal wedding, eh? She’s leaning against my sewing machine and its latest dust cover – I ran that up the other evening using some left over Ikea curtain fabric. I also made up a little curtain to hide some shelves and edged that with red bobbles. They work together in the room. It looks very jolly.

Finally, I bought a clock. I used to have a wooden owl clock in the sewing room. One night there was a crash and Mr T got up to investigate to find the clock had fallen off the wall and broken badly (the Command Strip didn’t perform as staunchly as expected).  It left the wall looking a bit bereft so had a quick look on Amazon and spotted a very happy and fun pendulum clock:

And here it is, in situ, brightening up a dull wall.

Well, that’s me done and that wash load won’t hang itself on the line. Until next posting, have fun everybody.

Salt Dough Kettle

There was a load of plain flour sitting in the cupboard and I wasn’t sure how long it had been there (the packet had been opened) so thought I’d make some salt dough with it. The recipe is simply 2 cups of flour to 1 of salt. I add a tbs of wallpaper paste as well. Mix with water until it looks like pastry then roll it out and cut it into shapes. I drew the kettle shapes in illustrator, printed them,  stuck them onto cereal-packet cardboard then cut them out to use as templates.

I inserted a short, curved length of wire (shaped some thing like the Greek Omega) to hang it on the wall with and cemented it in place with flour-glue.

If you add surface detail, as I have in my kettle, glue them on with a thickish mixture of flour and water. I used cake decorating bits and bobs to create the flowers and leaves and used a paintbrush to brush on the flour-glue to stick them on with.

The steam from the spout is made from three wires, curled, dipped in the flour-glue and poked into the dough. The same for the thick wire that is poked through the handle and into the kettle. This is the kettle having been left in the oven overnight on its lowest setting.

I’m going to paint it to look like a clock:

but with lots more colour, ie, paint all the kettle.

I have some dough left over so will need to make something else soon or throw it away.

The girls don’t complain about the oven on all night. They love a bit of warmth. Gracie and Jess love their beds in front of the fire. Despite days of mini heatwaves, we still get days of rain and cold and the fire has to go on.

My lovely Jess. She has a real thing about flies. I think the buzzing annoys her. We joke that Jess has caught the ‘flew’. She downs them with a ruddy hard thump of a paw – she’s a ninja, I’m telling ya! One thump and they never fly again.

Flowers are blooming all over. Unfortunately, so are the dandelions. They pop up like hydras. Pull one flower or seed head off and at least two more replace them. The clocks, or seedheads, are so pretty though… I chop them down before they go to seed, if I can. I used to try digging up the roots but you know what that’s like. Taproots down to the centre of the earth…

W

 

Spring flowers

Spring is here, at long last. I see birds carrying little bits for their nest building activities; twigs, fluff, scraps of fabric (don’t tell them about the stash in my sewing room) and other nicey things that catch their eyes.

The garden is coming to life. A few weeks ago I dead-headed the large and numerous hydrangeas… that is such a chore but they pay me back when they come into bloom in a riot of cheer-leader pom-poms later in the summer. Before they burst onto the scene, lots of little things are poking their heads above ground and saying hello to the world.

Bluebells, daises and bright yellow poppies are popping up around the garden…

Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch?!

Two of them chomping away on my pink-thingummy potted plants! I left them to it. I have a soft spot for snails.

Forget-me-Nots are everywhere! They make for bright blue splashes of colour and brighten things up beautifully. Things are coming along nicely.

I haven’t posted for a while. Been busy decorating. The back room is getting the treatment now. The dark wood covering the ceiling in an already dark room has now been given a coat of off-white. It’s transformed the bat cave into a much lighter and brighter airy room. Walls are next – something light; probably that good old staple, magnolia. The brown sludgy coloured carpet is going and we’re putting down laminate so cat hair and fluff will be easy to pick up.

It will be furnished fairly minimally. A double futon is ordered and will be delivered this week so there’ll be the futon, a white rocking chair (looking forward to sewing  a couple of nice cushion covers for it) and a mirror. I have the rug (Ikea) already – mainly grey with a white pattern. Long champagne curtains with a gorgeous sheen at the window and two mad lightshades (also Ikea – they look like they’re made from sheets of filo pastry and you literally crumple them around to shape how you want).

We took a whole load of stuff down to the tip and another whole load of stuff to the charity shops. We used to give stuff to an old fella round here to sell at his car boot .. unfortunately, he got stopped by the Garda going the wrong way down the M7… he was on his way to Portlaoise, missed his junction and did a U-turn  on the motorway… well he’s not driving anywhere now, least of all his car boot….

There was time to bake some buns:

These were flavoured with lemon – real lemon (juice and zest). I give them a sprinkle of edible glitter. A bit of sparkle is fun any day of the week, as far as I am concerned.

I made a chocolate biscuit cake for Earth Day (April 22nd so a wee while ago now):

I was going to pour melted white chocolate over the top and bottom for the polar ice caps but good intentions didn’t stop the white chocolate bars getting eaten.

Here is the Earth in two halves – as Mr T would say, a balanced diet – one in each hand.

You can see all the nutritional goodness exposed (according to Homer Simpson – fat, sugar and carbohydrate; all the major foodgroups). Malteasers, marshmallow, biscuits, small amount of finely chopped hazelnuts all embedded in chocolate.

It’s addictive. Chocolate G spot… I have to make this cake very rarely otherwise I’d be on that show ‘My 600 lb life’.

This is what I make it in. A Christmas pudding mould. I line it with clingfilm then press the pliable biscuit cake mix into each half, then close the mould together and leave somewhere cool to set. Pretty easy. I made some chocolate dinosaurs to go with it. Amazing how much chocolate is needed for what looks like a little mould for 12 or so dinosaurs.

Flowers in vases – I love flowers in the house. They brighten a grey day – we have plenty of them in rainy Ireland. I’m not really complaining. Without the rain and the green, green grass, Irish dairy wouldn’t be the best in the world (IMHO, lol). I love Irish butter and full cream milk. Rich, creamy and flavoursome.

I have a thing about tulips, at the moment.

So, what else? I still have a passion for collecting words. Kummerspeck is a German word which means grief bacon: it is the word that describes excess weight gained from emotion-related overeating. Beware Earth Day Cake!

Drachenfutter – literally translated as dragon fodder – are the peace offerings made by guilty husbands to their wives. Ha ha. Mr T would never do that. Actually, we joke about my Unbirthdays and Unchristmas presents when I get a bit spendy on Amazon.

Then there’s ‘die beleidigte Leberwurst spielen’ – meaning to pout in a proper sulk and translated means to play the insulted liver sausage.

My favourite is Backpfeifengesicht – a face that just screams out for a slap or a fist in it.

Brilliant words.

A couple more from the Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities that I got for Christmas before I go:

Twankle – to play idly on a musical instrument

Scurryfunge – to hastily tidy a house  – like when you just get a call to say somebody’s just popping round

Panshite – a state of panic, confusion or uproar

Thrimble – to grudgingly repay a debt

Twarvlement – circuitous, long-winded speech

 

That’s all for now. Have  happy days wherever you are.

 

 

Home Again

Spring is here. The sun is shining – le soleil brille! I’m not long back from a 4-day stay in Paris where I attended a series of workshops. People-centric writing, Citizen Data Science, video scripting, review of processes and tools….  interesting.

The building I was in had 14 floors with magnificent views. I could see the Sacre Coeur and the Eiffel Tower a little way in the distance. I’ll post a few pictures taken on my phone when I get a chance.

But am glad to be home, I have to say! Hello Dublin! I booked a couple of day’s holiday and go back to work on Tuesday and tomorrow night I’m off to the Bord Gais to see Tosca so very excited about that.

In the meantime, am washing the international germs out of my clothes and chilling out a bit.

Finally, I put together a quick neon-sign effect video for fun (based on a tutorial on SpoonBlogGraphics site).

Ta Ra a bit!

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