Friday, 15 April 2011

At the airport

GeoTagged, [N51.47262, E0.48860]

Boarding in about five minutes.

I will tweet sporadically on the other side when we are in hotels and coffee shops with free wifi. @meridianariel

Thursday, 14 April 2011

I'm packing for the wilds of northern idaho

running around like a mad thing today packing for our trip to visit my parents in Idaho. I'm sure I will a) over pack b) forget something essential c) have a hissy fit at the laundry or the dishes or d) melt down as that cat had climbed into one of the suitcases to be packed!!!!

I have a few blog posts that I need to finish writing up later when I have a break for my lunch, Right now I'm checking on the tracking number for a parcel of biscuits that is being delivered today. *runs around in circles*

where are all the damn chargers?

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Idaho Baked Potato Soup

Idaho Baked Potato Soup


4 large baking potatoes (or 6 medium sized potatoes)
1/3 cup butter
salt and pepper
6 cups milk (I used 1 cup water and 5 cups of milk)
1 onion
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 cup sour(ed) cream
1 cup strong/sharp cheddar cheese
10 slices of (streaky) bacon (cooked and crumbled) optional
green onion

Bake the potatoes then let cool completely before scooping out the middle, and roughly chopping all of the potato and half of the potato skin (discard the other half of the potato skins or bake them in the oven topped with cheese).

In a large pan fry the onion and garlic in the butter and balsamic vinegar.

Add 3/4ths potato, chopped potato skin, milk, water, sour cream, cheddar cheese, salt and pepper.

Use a hand/stick blender to blitz up the soup.

Add the remainder of the chopped up potato. Stir gently and bring just to the boil.

Serve hot with a sprinkle of cheese, crumbled bacon (optional) and green onions.

cook's notes: It's a simple soup and there are many ways to prepare it, this is just my simple way. There is no messing about making a roux out of flower when the potato is thick enough. You may need to add more milk or water to the soup as it has a tendency towards the thick side. It's one of my favourite winter warmers... or for freezing cold spring days.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

etc magazine, coffee and dreaming of zines

etc magazine

This afternoon my friend Claire popped by for coffee, gossip and to bring me my very one brown paper wrapped copy of etc magazine. Claire wrote, edited, and photographed the magazine along with Deb of Fabulous Places. We drank coffee, attempted to sit in the garden for all of 2 minutes before the cold breeze drove us to huddle on the sofa gossiping and dreaming. I flipped through the magazine cooing over photos, places and food while we chatted. The magazine is lovely Claire did a brilliant job, I do think I should probably have gotten her to sign it for me before she had to trundle off to fetch her son from school.

brown paper parcel tied up with ribbon
and paper straws

We had a great chat about the magazine, about the desire to do something just a little bit more than what we both do now. I tried to convince her to start writing a book or the next issue of the magazine, to include a few tutorials for crafting, gardening, and woodworking, etc. I talked of my desire to do more writing and wish to if not write a book than to have my crafts and stories included in book, magazine or zine form. I showed Claire the zine book that arrived in the post minutes before she arrived. It's been a dream of mine for awhile to turn my little stories into a little booklet/zine but I had difficulty wrapping my brain around the idea and quickly went on to other things.

doodle of Merle the Ghost Boy
(he's a typography nut you know)

Talking with Claire has made me think again that I want to do a little bit more that what I am doing and that I want to try to make a zine and if possible submit some writing somewhere. I'm not sure where yet, but I will think about it and in the mean time I'm going to draw more and write more too. Yesterday I drew Merle the ghost boy on a book page and thought that perhaps I should doodle all of the dolls I have made recently. Perhaps they would make nice post cards with the stories on the back? Or just the illustrations to their stories if I turn them into a little zine. What do you think lovely readers? If I made a little zine would you buy it from me? Would you like me to write you a story or blog post for your blog? Am I just dreaming?

I may not be dreaming right now, my tea is cold and my biscuit is long gone.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

the Nightmare Before Valentine's Day Swap Recieved

brown paper book

Here are a few snaps of the lovely Nightmare Before Valentine's Day Swap package I received from the lovely Jessica. I think she outdid herself sending me such a marvellous parcel in the post. I was beaming for days after the parcel arrived and I pawed through all the little goodies she thoughtfully gathered and crafted for me.
beautiful cover of the book Jessica made me

I told Jessica that Jack Skellington was one of my favourite Tim Burton creations so she designed her swap parcel around him (much more coordinated than I am). She made me a lovely pocket organizer (made with stripy fabric and vintage doilies no less) and a paper bag book (I had no idea what that was, my paper crafts abilities are quite small but the book she made is smashing. She wrote in a note that she thought I might like to draw and paint on the pages she crafted, I'm not sure I'm ready to draw and paint on the pages but the book sits beside my desk and I keep having a flip though the beautifully crafted pages when I need a little inspiration.

jam jar of buttons, cupcake cases and halloween cupcake toppers

Jessica did some snooping into my blog and my love of bon maman jam jars for craft storage... and drinking glasses. She filled a jar with black and white cupcake cases, some ace cupcake toppers, and red, white and black buttons. How awesome is that? I still have a few of the Mounds chocolates she sent me, they are hidden on my desk which is in an odd state of tidyness at the moment.
pocket hanger/organizer, a box filled with mounds
chocolate and coconut candies.

I love the packet of vintage ephemera she sent, I don't know what I shall make with this small horde of vintage papers, they are gorgeous and inspiring and I'm itching to doodle on one or two of them. It was a fabulous swap and I am so grateful to have had Jessica as my swap partner. We are off on holiday Friday to visit my parents otherwise I might be tempted to think up an idea for the next swap I host. ;o)

gorgeous paper ephemera, buttons and ribbon. <3

Friday, 8 April 2011

dark chocolate torte


Dark Chocolate Torte


2 cups extra thick double cream ( whipping cream will work too)
3 tablespoons caster/white sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups (1lb of chocolate= 455g) of dark chocolate (60-70 % cocoa solids) chopped into chunks.*
5 tablespoons milk
cocoa or icing sugar for decoration (optional)

For the base:

1½ cups of biscuit/cookie crumbs (I used chocolate covered digestives as that's what I had .)
2 tablespoons melted butter

Mix the biscuit/cookie crumbs and the melted butter. Mix well and press firmly into a lightly greased 8-inch spring form pan and place into the refrigerator.

instructions for the filling:

Put the double cream and sugar into a sauce pan over medium heat and bring to the boil.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter and chocolate chunks and stir until the chocolate has melted. (you may need to sample the mixture too see if you need to add any more sugar to you taste. or that's the excuse you will need to use)

Let the mixture cool slightly before adding the milk and mixing until smooth.

Pour the mixture over the biscuit/cookie base. Let cool at room temperature for 30 minute before chilling for an hour in the refrigerator.

sparklers optional

Cook's notes: I have no idea what the difference between a torte and a tart are if you want to get persnickety. I just know the recipe works for me, it's simple and tastes good and I have been making it for years. Matthew requested it for his birthday the other week so that's what I made. It makes a very rich slice of chocolate heaven so suggest you slice it in small pieces and hoard the rest away in the fridge.
served with a dollop of lightly whipped cream

* the chocolate is more or less two cups worth as it depends on who is helping make the torte by tasting the chocolate. Very important to taste the chocolate.

geeky browncoat card I made for Matt's Birthday.
I love Wash... don't tell Matt!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

my head is spinning

I have in a tizz the last two weeks so much to get done before we fly to visit my parents and I don't think I have gotten half the things done that need to be done. We have had craft nights at school, school meetings, birthdays (Matt's), anniversaries (our tenth), Mothering Sunday, bank appointments and running around like headless chickens... spin, spin, spin.

I have still managed to do some junking, thrifting and a bit of crafting. I have made a few cards and some doll/monster making that has calmed me and made me stop and enjoy that rare gift of English springtime. The sun has even been out for a visit so I have got to grab a little bit of sunshine here and there to make me feel like I have finally stepped out of the winter blues.

My blog was visited by the Appliances Online Fairy Hobmother who stalks the blogsphere gifting bloggers with amazon vouchers asking for people to visit their website and looking at their cookers.Yes it is marketing, but I believe it's relevant to my blog or I would not have considered accepting the gift of an Amazon voucher or blogging about the Fairy Hobmother, but they are a shop selling kitchen appliances and I spend a huge amount of time in the kitchen and blogging about my baking.

Ian the Fairy Hobmother (Yes I know it should be the Fairy HobFather but apparently that makes people think of horseheads in the fridge and cement filled cooking pots which is a shame as the Fairy Hobfather would be ace) was very nice and says when I have blogged about the Fairy HobMother he will choose someone who comments to get a voucher for themselves.

I think in today's hard time you take what you are offered and keep giving back to others. I'm not a famous blogger, I'm just me but if in blogging about the Fairy Hobmother and someone else gets gifted with a voucher who am I to say no? I am cooking, and baking all the time, and if I could afford it I would have a fancy schmancy kitchen filled with all the latest gadgets and doodahs you can imagine. Its amazing how something small and nice can make a day that much better.

I think it's time for a coffee break now. Don't you? So I'm putting the coffee maker on and sitting out in the garden to enjoy the magnolia tree and the cherry blossoms and daffodils.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Malice in Valentine City

Malice posing with camera and skeleton key

Malice lives on the edge of Valentine City in a crumbling castle with whispering ghosts. She cries in the rain and laughs in the snow. Malice carries the tarnished key to her heart pinned to her dress. Her heart lies buried in a wooden box beneath the castle.

Once she fell in love and her heart was broken, dashed to pieces and she no longer lives in the bubbling metropolis of Valentine City filled with lovers, cherubs, flower garlands, frothy lace, heart shaped chocolate boxes, and Valentine’s cards. She roams the edge of the city in search of heartbreakers to destroy. To toy with their hearts as her heart was shattered into sharp edged pieces. She paints sorrow on candy hearts, and embroiders broken hearts onto rose petals.

Sally moleskin and the top of the key and button necklace

I made Malice and an assortment of other goodies for Jessica my partner in the Nightmare Before Valentine's Day Tim Burton-esq Swap. I dithered over what to make Jessica for days
weeks, I doodled in my note book ,read and re-read her likes and dislikes for the swap and finally decided to make a doll that would fit into Burton's Holiday World as her favourite film was Nightmare Before Christmas and Sally is Jessica's favourite Burton character.

Malice and her story card leaning against my inspiration board

I drew Sally on a sheet of book paper and decoupaged it to the cover of a little moleskin notebook. Then I made a heart pincushion in a vaguely primitive style with ribbon, lace, stripped ticking and a vintage button. Then I procrastinated for quite a bit gathering together some vintage haberdashery, a little clock stamp and ephemera items to go with the swap (better than candy and chocolate I think...a little bit better any way.) I made the necklace with a vintage key and red button (I slightly cheated here as I had made myself the same necklace with matching key and button the week before).

Sally notebook, pendant, pin badge, pincushion and pocket watch stamp

When I had procrastinated long enough I gathered together my fabrics, doilies and buttons and made Malice. I don't have much of a technique when it comes to doll making I tend to go with what scraps of fabric I have and begin sewing in a bit of a haphazard way. I do draw ideas for dolls and as I make them and draw them bits of story float through my mind and then everything seems to fall together.


I like that Malice carries a little key and though she is one of my simpler dolls I think she has a lot of heart even if it is locked up in a box safe and sound. I think she would live happily in Halloween Town don't you?
book page doodle illustration (one of my favourites)

all wrapped up, the pin badge is a typed quote
from Nightmare before Christmas
'What's wrong? I thought you liked Frog's breath.'