Fifteen Bakes

This year I've still managed to fit in a baking session in amongst my studies; it's often just what I need to forget about the everyday and still quench my need to be creative and make something- even better that you can eat it! As well as sticking the recipe, I love to tweak things a bit, and there's been the baked creations from family and friends too. So this year:

1.   Apple cake
2.   Scones   by my Dad
3.   Apricot and yoghurt loaf cake   from Waitrose
4.   Victoria sponge
5.   Chocolate jumbles   adapted from Nigel Slater
6.   Lemon and lime drizzle cake   adapted from Mary Berry
7.   Apricot, honey and pistachio   from Twigg Studio
8.   Hazelnut and chocolate banana bread   adapted from Nigella
9.   Eton mess
10. Orange blossom flapjack   from Honey & Co - The Baking Book
11. Gluten-free chocolate cake   from Doves Farm
12. Vanilla biscuits   from BBC Good Food
13. Birthday Bake Off creations   by my colleagues
14. Cinnamon, cardamon and orange bundt   adapted from Honey & Co - The Baking Book
15. Winter berry pavlova


Wedding Biscuits

Last weekend we celebrated the marriage of my oldest friend Alana to her man Liam in our village church and at a beautiful venue after. Being at this time of year, the manor house was decked with gorgeous decorations, and the occasion for celebration really got us into the Christmas spirit.

For the wedding I made a collection of bride and groom heart shaped cookies that Alana had spotted on Pinterest earlier on in the year. For the biscuit base I made a basic dough and added vanilla essence for the brides and orange zest and cinnamon for the grooms, a more Christmassy flavour.

I had never done any icing like this before so YouTube videos and blogs were really useful in learning techniques. Sweet Ambs creates absolutely beautiful biscuits and has fantastic pages on royal icing consistencies and decorating techniques. I have invested in a narrow piping head so making patterns like on the free-hand swirls on the dress and the pearl necklace were much simpler (squeeze-stop-swipe). For the "flooding" of the base colour I just snipped off the end of the piping bag. It's important to use royal icing as it contains dried egg whites which means the icing will dry solid.

These biscuits were really fun to make and with the baking equipment that I'm collecting up, I'm hoping to decorate more in the future. They're great for making gifts - I've have made some snowflakes for Christmas - and with the biscuit dough, the flavours are endless.


Weekends of Weaving

Over the last couple of weekends, Mum and I have let our creativity run wild and joined the Introduction to Weaving workshop at The Handweavers Studio in north London.

From the off, we were let loose on the looms, trying all sorts of patterns with cotton, silks, wools and paper on both table and floor looms. Huck lace, waffles, twill, point threading; you name it, we tried it. Over the four days of the course we also learnt how to prepare a loom from scratch, giving us all the skills we need as beginners to go away and start this hobby at home. Above are pictures of the samples that I, Mum and the other weavers created.

It has been a wonderful workshop to be part of, meeting fellow crafters from all backgrounds who were there to learn a new skill. The course is fantastic and Dawn was a great teacher, whose enthusiasm for weaving really rubbed off on all of us. Unlike knitting, which I love, weaving has quite expensive set ups costs, with the loom itself and the other equipment that's required, so I am going to have a think if this is something I want to get into. 

My ambition is to be able to weave scarves and blankets, so a larger loom is what I will look to get one day. In the meantime I'm going to keep collecting (p)inspiration of the endless possibilities of what you can create with this wonderful way of producing textiles.


Many Faces

One of my favourite places in London is just round the corner from one of the city's most famous sites, Trafalgar Square. The entrance to the National Portrait Gallery is much more discreet than that of its big sister, the National Gallery that faces grandly onto the square, and it has a more personal feeling to it; although well frequented, it's seems far less touristy.

What I love most is wandering around the galleries, with the faces of people from throughout time gazing down, admiring them back but really absorbing their life stories and what they experience and went through. It's the same when I read magazines; I am fascinated by the stories of people's lives, whether famous or less well known, how they got to where they are today.

The NPG has the Faces of Britain exhibition spotted around the gallery, which is accompanied by a TV programme by Simon Schama. If you also love portraiture, it's a great insight into the stories behind the works of art, picking up on elements that you might not have seen at face value, and exploring the themes of Love, Fame, Power, People and Self-Portraits.

Since freeing myself from studies, I really want to get back into painting again. During art at school, the people around me were my subjects, my A level portrait of brother Dowle is testament to that and endless sketches of friends in the common room. But it's not only a portrayal of the human form but who the person is. The mixed media portrait of my Nanna didn't go down too well as the crinkled textures highlighted what I saw and what she didn't want to see: old age.

So it's time to get the easel out, me thinks, I've got an idea of my first victim... so watch this space!!


Fifteen Flowers

Keeping up with this journal of mine has taken a backseat for most of 2015. It has been quite a year, for many reasons good and bad, but I have still been keeping up with snapping away images from everyday life and posting on good ol' Instagram. Here is a selection of fifteen flowers, from gift bouquets to those in our garden, flora in London squares to fields of lavender, from artwork to textiles. From now on, there'll be more of my photos and what I've been getting up to, so stayed tuned!