Friday, 25 March 2011

Stand and stare

This morning I realised I hadn't chilled out during the day recently - I tend to dash around getting everything done and juggling things and then slump at 7.30pm. Instead of launching headlong into the day and feeling, well, somewhat strung out at times, I decided on a different approach today.

I did not turn the computer on but started the day by listening to this exquisite meditative piece by Arvo Part. It seemed to relax the little ones too.



Then I took a cuppa into the garden. I hadn't done that yet this year. I stood and stared for a little while. I spotted a tiny wren hopping in the flower bed and some self-seeded forget-me-nots about to flower. It was a good plan - I had a sudden urge to make tiny versions of both and what's more I felt less rushed.



These little pieces will be part of my table at the Spring and Eco Poppytalk Handmade market which begins on Monday.

Today is the last day of my tiny silver cherry blossom raffle for Japan. I will be drawing the winner over the weekend.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

A few days ago


...Spring arrived



...all of a sudden




...in a flowery explosion.



One day it was grey and cold



..and seemingly the next


































..the weather was milder


































...and blossom was everywhere.



Brilliant.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Japan Quake Appeal: silver cherry blossom


Jo who blogs at A bit of this and that has launched an appeal for the victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami. There is a master list of all the blogs taking part here.

I'm joining in by running a raffle on this post to give away this little silver cherry blossom necklace - in Japan it is a symbol of hope.


  • The raffle is open to anyone, no matter where you live
  • If you'd like you name in the hat for this raffle please could you donate £5 to the British Red Cross by clicking here (you can highlight the 'Other' box and click through to donate)
  • You will receive a payment reference number- please pop that  number in your comment here
  • You may enter as many times as you like but each comment should have a receipt number 
  • You may also enter by emailing me with a reference number
  • Postage is free
The raffle will end on Friday 25th March - I will draw a winner that evening using random.org. Thankyou x

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Fingerprint



It's not often that I post pictures of my fingerprint commissions but I liked the idea of the simple discs and interchangeable gem clusters requested by my most recent customer.

The silver clay I use to make make my jewellery, including these little silver pendants, is astonishing stuff - a ceramic that has particles of silver rather than particles of stone within it. Once the finger is pushed into the clay, dried and fired the impression is there forever. It's as though the clay has taken a snapshot of the unque detail and the smallness of the fingerprint. It's quite humbling really - I make the rest of the pendant pretty and etch in names and ages but the fingerprint itself is the star.

This was a special commission for the customer's friend - it was the friend's little ones whose fingerprints I cast. The recipient is unwell and the necklace was made to cheer her. It felt good to make something that might lift someone else's spirits.

P.S. There's free shipping to anywhere in my etsy shop at the moment.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Foraging in March: tasty greens



I live in a rural village and I do feel more in tune with the seasons than when I lived in Cambridge or London but there are edible treats to be had in the countryside near here that I often miss out on. I know they're out there but most of the time I'm so caught up with family life and cooking with supermarket or at best farmers market-acquired food that I don't think to go foraging.

This year I plan to remedy that a little.



March is a good month to start foraging - leaves are at their freshest and newest.  Really good ingredients for salads and savoury sauces can be found easily. Parks and derelict land are just as good for foraging as full blown countryside.

Three plants to look for this month:

Hawthorn leaves (above left image). Their traditional country name is 'bread and cheese'. The leaves emerge as little clusters and can be eaten straight from the hedgerow. They're fresh, nutty and delicious.

(Note: On hawthorn bushes the leaves emerge first in early March, on blackthorn/wild plum bushes the blossom emerges first in late March).

Jack-by-the-hedge or Garlic mustard. The clue's in the name - this grows at the base of hedges, is a relative of cabbage and rocket and has quite a strong flavour with a gentle hint of garlic. It grows in the US too.


































At this time of year the plants form small clusters of roundish leaves close to the ground.




Image borrowed from here

They are easiest to identify when they flower in May though - the plants grow quite tall (about 50-100cm), the leaves are more pointed and the flowers are tiny and white with four petals.

Wild chervil or cow parsley. For years I didn't realise that cow parsley (pretty much my favourite plant) was also edible. The fresh growth at this time of year is the best - it can get bitter later in the year.


































There are plants that look similar but are harmful, especially water dropworts -I know the plants I picked are cow parsley simply because I've watched them flowering for several years.

Also available in March are Ramsons/wild garlic, Nettles, Wood sorrel, and cleavers/goose grass.

In the US March is a good time to forage for Miner's lettuce or winter purslane.

What to cook with your foraged greens


Any of these plants can be eaten raw and are delicious additions to salads.


The leaves can be whizzed up with basil and/or rocket, pine nuts, garlic and good oil in pesto (Nigella roasts her garlic but I don't bother).

They may also give delicious fresh flavours to salsa verde which can be served with grilled or roasted meat or fish.

Stay tuned for more foraging later in the year.

It took me a year or two to be confident about the few plants I do forage. If you are doubtful about the plants you might find then maybe consult a book (e.g. Food for Free by Richard Mabey or River Cottage Hedgerow) or someone who forages regularly.

Edited to add: Diana at Pebbledash just told me about this website - www.eatweeds.co.uk -  it looks fantastic for foraging recipes.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Hello teapot


Yesterday afternoon I realised I hadn't been out of the house in three days!. I think I was developing cabin fever. Mr P said I needed a break from tending the small and the sick and sent me out. It was sunny out there. Who knew? I saw trees and everything!

A spot of retail therapy was needed so I headed here. Three floors of bric a brac and old books - heaven.

Then I saw a teapot. It was turquoise and chipped and lovely. It came home with me.



It holds three mugs*-full and will be used every morning.

And the cabin fever? Cured.

*Tansy mug by Melissa at tiny happy.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Rollercoaster


What a week. We have mostly been
  • marvelling at Nanna and her superhero tendencies
  • re enacting scenes from Anne of Green Gables (croup + lots of boiling kettles)
  • narrowly avoiding hospital thanks to kettles (relief!)
  • eating Nanna's shortbread to cheer us up
  • wearing pyjama bottoms.

Youngest was on the mend today so I made some jewels and photographed them.


This little silver windmill spins around.



These are ancient Egyptian faience beads.



The new pieces will go live on Monday over at Poppytalk Handmade although you can see them now if you click on the jewellery category in the LH sidebar. Links from my virtual 'stall' click through to my etsy shop.


Is it the weekend yet?





Wednesday, 2 March 2011

News


A couple of weeks ago I applied to have an online 'table' at Poppytalk's curated Handmade market in March. Late on Monday night I heard I'd been accepted! I'm completely and utterly thrilled! I did a dance when I got the email. If you haven't visited it before, Poppytalk is a design blog that supports the hand-made movement and it's a really good read.











(Not a real link yet - the Mad March Market goes live on Monday 7th)

The deadline for upload of twelve pieces is Friday though. Twelve! By Friday! Eep! Youngest has a croupy cough and slept propped up on me most of the night so I've called super Nanna in her cape to help out a little while I attempt to finish off. Thankfully little one is playing and seems happy but I could do with a nap, if not some matchsticks to prop my peepers open or a Very Large Cappuccino.

On my List Of Things To Make in silver are a mad March hare and a tiny windmill.

Right, better try and get on with it...