Can’t believe it’s September already

Time has really flown this year – just can’t believe it’s September already. I haven’t got my Christmas cake baked either – normally get that done and dusted before August is out.

Luckily, the weather here is still really nice. We had visitors last week and were able to spend time outdoors without gumboots, galoshes and great coats. It was a busy week. We went to Dublin zoo, Glendalough (beautiful) where we had a picnic and a long stroll around the lakes with the Wicklow mountains all around;  a picnic at Brittas Bay having fun with a kite and a paddle in the sea, a day at Newgrange—an ancient monument built during the stone age, plus a bit of  shopping at Whitewater and the Kildare Village Outlet. Busy but fun. I have lots of photos on my phone but haven’t had a chance to download them yet but will over the weekend.

russian piping nozzles

We also tried our hands with Russian icing nozzles. Look on You Tube for how they work and the beautiful results you can get with them.

And look here to see not so perfect results! 🙂 They went down a treat despite looking like eggs aliens hatch out of.

buttercream icing using Russian icing nozzles

Well, visitors going today so the washing machine will be earning its keep for a few hours.

I’ll be pottering around the garden picking at dandelion leaves, gathering up fallen apples and doing a bit of dusting round. We’ll definitely be popping back to Glendalough, maybe this weekend even. Let’s see if the weather holds out!

Cut Out

Fox PaperCut

Here’s the papercut of the design posted yesterday ready to be framed. It is quite large and will go into an A3 frame.

Today has been busy. Mr T is laying new flooring in the bedroom we keep for family and friends when they come over. He’s really cracking on and I’m totally amazeballs at how hard he’s working.  We bought some sliding wardrobe doors from Ikea and he’ll be hanging them at some point. And he’s painting everywhere. Stand still for long enough and you’ll have an Annie Sloane makeover. He looks a bit wild and wooly though – like a good thrashing with a weed whacker would tame some of the facial growth! He scrubs up well and a hot shower and shave will gussy him up to his usual level of handsomeness.

Meanwhile I’m making soup—chicken, chickpea and sweet potato. All done in the pressure cooker with a tickle of turmeric, a sprinkle of black pepper, a quiff of curry powder, stock, parsnips and lots of carrots with a tin of chickpeas thrown in at the end. We haven’t had soup for a while as the hot weather was salad and sandwich fare. Now we’d had some rain and the temperature has dropped, a bowl of soup is perfect.

spools of thread

Then time to do a bit of sewing. I need to get a wiggle on myself and get cushions made. I bought some fabric from a cloth shop in Dublin. Nice stuff but very expensive so back to Amazon, I’m afraid. I have found a super pattern on line for a cross backed apron surprisingly called a ‘Mobius’ apron! 🙂 and an origami bag that caught my eye.

I think I’ve got the easier side of this house refurb deal!


foxy O papercut

I have a papercutting to do. The first stage is design—a rough paper drawing then drawn in iIllustrator. Tracing the design doesn’t really work too well, I’ve found.  I create the flowers and leaves and superimpose them over the design then do the painstaking Shapebuilding and / or my method (I think it’s my method as I’ve never read of the technique anywhere else), of using Pathfinder and the Direct Selection tool.

It’s not really a job I’ve got time for as we’re in the middle of some refurbishment around the house. The back room has its new floor, it’s painted, the futon has been assembled and put into place, the curtains are up… joy and happiness are on my doorstep along with the new mats. We have a bedroom to refloor and some wardrobe doors to put up. Lots and lots of painting. 🙁 I really don’t like painting house things). 🙁

Poor Gracie had a very nasty tail injury. She came in with it drooping, almost dragging it. It was obviously very painful as she didn’t want us to touch her lower back or tail and yowled and pawed at us to leave it. We got her to the vet where they put her under anaesthesia, X-rayed it and checked her over. Luckily, it’s not broken. The vet thinks something make have yanked it or she got it caught and yanked it herself to get free. She was kept in overnight to recover from the anaesthetic and to check that she could wee.

Now, I’ve been down this road before with Homer, my gorgeous old ginger tom that I had for 20, possibly 22 – we can’t remember what year it was when we got him) years. He had to have his tail amputated and was never recovered the ability to wee. The vet showed me how to express his bladder and said he probably wouldn’t live more than a couple of years beyond that time. Very wrong, I’m glad to say, he lived another good 10 years or so. But, we —I say we but I was the only one who could do it—managed it and kept him healthy and happy and spoiled till the end of his long days. Yes it was inconvenient at times and holidays abroad were not an option as no cattery could take him. We managed and still got holidays—we booked a mobile home caravan every year and had weeks by the sea a couple of times a year, keeping him in while away, of course.

However, I was over the moon when the vet rang to say we could collect her – she’d had a wee (and the other), she’d twitched her tail though it was still drooping but there was no reason to believe she wouldn’t make a full recovery. Phew! Am glad to say that her tail is much more upright today but is still not the upright antenna we’re used to seeing but I’m confident she’s getting better so it’s a matter of time. Give her a few days or a week and I’m sure she’ll be back to normal.

As for the injury… hmmmm, I have suspicions that someone nearby hurt her. No proof. A certain man who came to my door after finding a dead pigeon in his garden and told me to put a F***** bell on her, put a F***** fence up (we have walls with tall hedges on three sides!!!!) and said he’d know what to do if he found her in his garden again… That was only a week ago.  It seems a little too coincidental that after making vague threats about what to do and then her suddenly coming home badly injured. I don’t think it is. I think it’s deliberate.

FYI: Gracie is a hunter but believe me, there are numerous cats round here. In Ireland, it is normal for most cats to be outdoor cats – though we keep her in every night when she comes in for her tea, that’s it, she’s in till the next day. And I truly wish she didn’t kill birds (or mice that breed is the shouty man’s F****ing compost heap) and we have tried collars and bells but she always gets them off. And, there are plenty of other cats that also catch birds. I’ve had birds left on my doorstep overnight when Gracie (and Jess) have been in all night. Jess, for the record, is not interested in catching birds. He has a core belief that every bird captured and killed round here is down to her. Ignorant P****.

So work to do and a bit of a vent. That’s all for now.


graphic of garden

Just having a bit of an old moan. There’s still a hosepipe ban and the garden looks parched, despite having had some heavy rain here and there. Mostly there by the look of my garden.

Originally, I created this image as the basis for an infographic to creating a scented garden. Like mine nearly was. I have honeysuckle, lavender, rosemary, sweetpeas.  roses and other scented ladies around the garden, all looking a bit withered and not their scintillating best. Then, heavens above! The rains came down and the gardens sprung to life. On closer inspection, though, a lot of the greenery was leafy and of the the tell-tale serrated leaf edge of the dandelion. They are everywhere. Like a bed of lettuces out the front.

The graphic was created in Illustrator and made use of the symbol sprayer and art brushes.

This is all I have to moan about so I know how good and beautiful my life is and am grateful.Off to tackle the dandelions…. I may be gone some time!

Salt Dough

Guess who found the remains of a batch of salt dough wrapped up in the fridge a couple of days ago? I was going through the fridge and doing a big clear out, checking expiry dates and salad veg squidginess, and found a mysterious package at the back of the salad drawer. It was well wrapped in cling film and baking foil. It turned out to be the left over salt dough from when I made a kettle ornament (Salt Dough Kettle).  It had gone a bit wet and sticky so I added more plain flour until it became more pastry-like and used it up making decorative pears, apples, hearts and stars. Small circles were indented in the dough using straws, holes were pricked using the end of a knitting needle and lines were made using a butter knife. The ones in the picture are baked but not painted. The ones that got painted are not posted… Flupped them up good and proper by painting with water colours and overworking them. The surface became sticky and the details got rubbed and blurred. Meh. Could have kicked myself.

As crafts go, salt dough is very easy. You can cut out shapes with biscuit (cookie) cutters or draw round templates. Cereal boxes make for sturdy templates. Salt dough takes a good while to dry – mine were in the oven for some 16 hours on its lowest temperature. Obviously, the thicker the dough, the longer the baking time.

They can also be microwaved; I’ve tried microwaving and had mixed results but always with some surface puffing, buckling and cracking. (See Salt Dough Hearts and Salt Dough Microwave Method).  Sometimes, the cracking suits the project but there are times you might want a smoother surface to work on.

Salt Dough:

2 cups of flour to 1 of salt. Add a tbs of dry wallpaper paste as well to help prevent mold and make the dough more pliable if you have some.

Mix with water until it becomes pastry-like then roll it out and cut it into shapes.

You can create all sorts of things and hang them up afterwards – just make a hole so you can insert cord or wire to hang them from – or, insert some bent wire into the raw dough (wet the ends of the wire with a thickish flour and water mixture ‘glue’ then insert the wire into the piece) and bake the mount with the dough. If you’re feeling ambitious or imaginative there are numerous hints and tips from the internet mavens – Google and you will get!

Basic instructions:

  1. Place on a baking tray in the oven on its lowest setting until the dough is thoroughly dry. Tap the back of the shapes – they should sound ‘hollow’. Try pressing the back – if there’s any yield in the piece it needs further drying in the oven time.
  2. Paint and let them dry – bone dry!
  3. Coat with a varnish – floor, ship or spray varnish, whatever is easiest and cheapest to find, to seal the dough. If you don’t seal them moisture will get in and they will eventually crumble or go mouldy.

Pear templates:

If you fancy sewing some pears there’s a template and tutorial here for you.

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