Sunday, 31 March 2013

A Really Good Friday ~ Part Two

After a cup of  Earl Grey and a gooey chocolate brownie to recover from the cultural whirlwind of the Bowie exhibition, my friend and I went across town to the Fashion and Textile Museum, to an exhibition of Kaffe Fassett's work.
Kaffe Fassett is an American artist and textile designer who has lived in London since the 60's. He started out as a painter, but after a trip to Scotland was inspired by the colours and textures of the yarns he saw in a local shop and persuaded a fellow train passenger to teach him to knit on the journey home. This was the result:
Not bad for a first attempt, eh!
His use of colour is fabulous, matching tones and textures perfectly. 

This is a quilt made from men's shirts:

We so often see heirloom quilts that are feminine, what a fabulous keepsake to make for a son!

This quilt blew me away:

Again, the tones are perfect. But what struck me most with this was how the circular quilting on top of the hexagonal patchwork changed the look of the quilt.

Here you can see how his needlepoint designs have been influenced by blue china:

and by the natural world:

Kaffe Fassett - A Life in Colour runs until 29th of June. As well as the knitting, quilting and needlepoint mentioned above, there are also examples of his printed fabric designs (and if Cath Kidston wasn't heavily influenced by this guy then I'll eat my embroidery hoop!) and documentary footage of him discussing his work and sources of inspiration.
If you love any kind of stitching, I can guarantee you will come away from this exhibition with a head full of ideas, and I recommend you do like Kaffe and take some yarn for the train ride home!

A Really Good Friday ~ Part One

On Good Friday I went to London for one of the most inspirational days out I have ever experienced.

The day began, bright and clear, with a humungous queue outside the Victoria and Albert Museum.

 And what were we all queuing for? The David Bowie is exhibition, a vast collection of  handwritten lyrics, original costumes, photograph, video, set designs, and the Thin White Duke’s own instruments and artwork. The exhibition charts Bowie's career, including influences and inspirations from other artists such as Gilbert and George, Iggy Pop and Kansai Yamamoto, and from cultural influences from such diverse locations as Japan and Germany. A set of headphones, free with your entry fee, insulates and immerses you into the sights and sounds of the exhibition, and I spent almost three awe-inspiring hours wandering the cluttered maze of exhibits before reluctantly emerging, shaken and dazed, and full of fanciful ideas of quitting my job, bleaching my hair white and enrolling in an art degree.
Unfortunately the only photo I could take was the one of the queue, as photography and sketching (?!) were strictly forbidden, but you can find out more about it on the V&A website here. The exhibition is on until 11th August. If you have any way of getting to London to see it I really recommend that you do. But be prepared to feel some ch-ch-ch-ch-changes . . . .

Wednesday, 27 March 2013


It feels like forever since I've shared a recipe with you lovely people, but it's actually only been a couple of weeks!
This is a sticky, chewy, crunchy spin on an old classic ~ the rice krispie cake. Creamy toffee and foamy marshmallow melted together make the most delicious glue to ever coat a puffed rice cereal. 
225g Toffees
125g Butter
200g Marshmallows
200g Rice Krispies
Start off by getting your tin ready. You'll need one roughly 20 x 30cm, and about 3cm deep. Line it with greased greaseproof paper, large enough to fill the tin and fold back over.
Ok, boring bit done. Now you can put all your toffees (unwrapped) into a large bowl and zap it in the microwave for about 2 minutes. Watch it carefully though, if your microwave cooks fast you may not need so long. When the toffees are melted and bubbling give them a good stir, then add the butter and marshmallows and pop the bowl back in the microwave. Zap for a minute, stir, then give it 30 second blasts, giving the mix a really good stir in between, until the marshmallows are melted and the mix is blended well.

Tip the rice krispies in and mix well. See how "hairy" the mixture goes!


Pour this mixture into your lined tin and push it down well using a wet spatula. Don't think for a minute you can get away with using your stirring spoon, you'll end up like Br'er Rabbit with the tar baby!
When you've finally squished all the mixture into your tin, fold over the top bit of the greaseproof paper and smooth it down, then put a baking tray or large book on top and add something heavy to help compress the mixture as it cools.

 When the mixture has cooled, all you need to do is cut it up. This should make about 16 good-sized slices, but as it's nearly Easter I thought I would try something different.

Egg shapes! Of course, you could do this with any cookie cutter but I wouldn't try anything too fiddly. Some of my eggs had a slightly frilly edge to them, as my cookie cutter was only just deep enough to make it through the mixture. If this happens, just roll the edges gently on the greaseproof paper and the frills are pressed back into the shape.

Nom nom nom! (or rather ~ Chomp Chomp Chomp!)

I've added these Cheery Chicken Chompers to My Fitness Pal, the calories were calculated based on cutting the slab into 16 pieces, but of course if you make the slices smaller then adjust the calories accordingly. I got a lot more eggs out of my slab so I reckon there are half as many calories in each egg.

And most of those are just air . . .

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Farewell old friend

When I was in my teens (17? 19? Something like that!) my friend gave me a Binatone Moontime MkII radio alarm clock for my birthday. It has a built-in lamp on an extendy arm, variable brightness on the display, and it has been working perfectly for over 20 years!!! They genuinely don't make them like that any more!
However, the buttons are getting very stiff, and resetting the time (which involves going through all 24 hours!) when the clocks change is painful for both of us. Plus, it's HUGE! It almost fills my bedside table!
So when I spotted some gloriously cheery little alarm clocks on a recent trip to Ikea, and co-ordinating lamps too, I figured it was time to retire my Binatone Moontime MkII. Now I have a spacious and cheery bedside table.


And a very guilty conscience!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

A Jumper Just For Me

I've been a bit cheeky.
I've spent the last couple of weeks knitting a jumper, not for a present, not for the shop, but just for me.
The yarn is Stylecraft's Palladium, a Scottish wool-blend that I've had for ages. They don't make it anymore, my Mum gave me a big batch and I've started projects with it but never found anything that really suited it til I came across this pattern from Wendy:

I love the flecky specks of lavender, it gives such a lovely textural (is that even a word?) look.

And in case you're wondering where else you've seen it . . . .
It's one of the Oceanview set of crochet frames from my shop!

There's another fabulous Etsy find in one of these photos ~ a gorgeous vintage knitting needle bracelet from Yellow Bear Wares. Can you spot it? (yet again I need to apologise for my photography!)

I still have a couple of hundred grammes left. Hmmm, what shall I make with it?

Friday, 15 March 2013

Comic Relief Cake Sale

It's Red Nose Day here in the UK, the 25th year of Comic Relief, a British charity which has so far raised over £750 million to help poor and disadvantaged people both at home and globally.

We raised £60 at work, selling cakes that people baked and brought in to share.

I was a little worried that not many people would join in

but every department had an abundance of yummy cakes to choose from

and even some of the guys who had poo-poohed baking had brought something

and of course I had I very hard time choosing which ones I wanted to sample 

but I figured that if a little of what you fancy does you good, then a lot of it must be even better!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

You say Banana, I say Banoffee

You know how you could just mash those couple of over-ripe bananas on some toast for breakfast, or be a bit naughty and mash them on toast spread with nutella for a naughty breakfast, but instead you bake a big batch of muffins?

Oh yeah, I went there.

I didn't stop there either, I got all toffee on their ass too.

Banana / Banoffee Muffins


2 large ripe Bananas (or 3 small)
175g / 6oz Butter / Margarine
175g / 6oz Demerara Sugar
3 eggs
225g / 8oz Self-Raising Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
Toffee Sauce

Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / Gas 4

Peel the bananas then mash with a fork. Beat the butter or margarine with the sugar til creamy then add the vanilla essence. Beat in the eggs one at a time alternately with the flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Stir in the crushed banana.

Line a muffin tin with paper cases and half fill each case. Bake for 20-25 mins until golden then turn out to cool on a wire tray.

Now you could just leave things there. Why not? You have some pretty blimmin' lush muffins after all.

Or you could Banoffee them.

Using an old-fashioned potato-peeler / corer, scoop a 'core' of cake from the centre of each muffin. Be careful to only go about half-way down or you're going to end up in a mess. Then take your toffee sauce (I used shop-bought because I'm laa-aa-zy!) and fill that crater, make sure you spill over onto the top of the muffin too.


I've added them to my fitness pal if you are dieting. If you make these plain (with butter) they work out about 196 calories each. If you use margarine instead you could save at least 20 calories per muffin depending on the brand. I'm not sure how many calories you get when you banoffee them.
Probably none.