Wednesday, April 25, 2012

We've got robin's eggs!!

In one of my recent posts I mentioned we had a nest just outside our back door and weren't sure if it was a robin's nest or not - now we are sure and today James saw that there are three lovely blue eggs in there! I got a couple of pictures of the Mother Robin on the nest - sorry they are blurry, they were taken through a window at a distance as we didn't want to bug her on the nest. How exciting!

 Twice we have had robins in a tree near the house but this is literally out the back door and up 3 feet - they are safe from night prowlers and cosy with a roof from the rain. The robin, thankfully, does not seem at all fazed by the dogs going in and out and the kitchen activity so hopefully soon we'll have three little robin chicks...awwww.

I just went out for a refreshing walk on a Maine spring evening after spending a few hours on the computer. I walked along the side of a couple of babbling, mossy brooks and was reminded of one of my favourite poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson:

The Brook
I come from haunts of coot and hern;
I make a sudden sally
And sparkle out among the fern,
To bicker down a valley.
By thirty hills I hurry down,
Or slip between the ridges,
By twenty thorpes, a little town,
And half a hundred bridges.
Till last by Philip's farm I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.
I chatter over stony ways, 
In little sharps and trebles,
I bubble into eddying bays, 
I babble on the pebbles.
With many a curve my banks I fret
By many a field and fallow,
And many a fairy foreland set
With willow-weed and mallow.
I chatter, chatter, as I flow 
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.
I wind about, and in and out,
With here a blossom sailing,
And here and there a lusty trout,
And here and there a grayling,
And here and there a foamy flake 
Upon me, as I travel 
With many a silvery water break
Above the golden gravel,
And draw them all along, and flow
To join the brimming river
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.
I steal by lawns and grassy plots,
I slide by hazel covers 
I move the sweet forget-me-nots 
That grow for happy lovers.
I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance,
Among my skimming swallows; 
I make the netted sunbeam dance 
Against my sandy shallows.
I murmur under moon and stars 
In brambly wildernesses; 
I linger by my shingly bars;
I loiter round my cresses;
And out again I curve and flow 
To join the brimming river, 
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

By Lord Tennyson

About The Poet :
Lord Tennyson (1809-92) was born in Lincolnshire. Poet Laureate for over 40 years, Tennyson is representative of the Victorian age. His skilled craftsmanship and noble ideals retained a large audience for poetry in an age when the novel was engrossing more and more readers. Tennyson's real contribution lies in his shorter poems like The Lady of Shallot, The Princess, Ulysses, The Palace of Art etc. His fame rests on his perfect control of sound, the synthesis of sound and meaning, the union of pictorial and musical.
Definitions of some of the lesser known words:
Coot : a type of water bird with a white spot on the forehead

Hern : heron

 Sally : emerge suddenly

Thorpes : a type of village

Grayling : another type of fish

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Earth Day 2012!

Happy Earth Day one and all!!

Here are links to some organizations I think are doing a wonderful job to help our lovely planet. Who would you add to this list?

PRINCE CHARLES - yes he's been an avid environmentalist since the early 70's - this link is to just one of his projects.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Signs of Spring and some Maine sayin's for when you come visit the Pine Tree State!

The magnolias are blooming and smelling divine!

A new bird's nest being made right outside our back door - we're pretty sure it's a robin's nest but haven't actually seen the birds there.

Pretty flowers out in the Enchanted Forest - I don't know what they are - look like some kind of cowslip to me.

...and daffodowndilly's nodding by the front door.

An Eastern Bluebird espied near the forsythia - nice colours together wouldn't you say?

And many more daffs to come in the Enchanted Forest - yea!!!
Here are some Maine colloquialisms for you gleaned from a wonderful article in The Bangor Daily News "Everybody’s heard about the (Maine) words" by Emily Burnham, BDN Staff
- they sound so English to me - the Brits do love their colourful sayin's!!

Dooryard: The area immediately adjacent to the front door of a house; “Take your boots off and leave them in the dooryard.”

Wicked: Synonym for ‘very,’ to a high degree, extremely, exceedingly; “That movie was wicked cool.”
Ayuh: Yes, affirmative; “Ayuh, it’s spring in Maine — 35 degrees and cloudy.”

Stoved, or staved: To be in disarray or fundamentally messed up; “That lawn mower doesn’t work, it’s all stoved up.”

Teeming: Heavy rain; “It was teeming wicked hard last night.” Growing up in England we would say it was teeming down too.

Yee yaw: To wiggle something to make it work; “You’ve got to yee yaw the handle after you flush.”

Glob around: To relax, or chill out; “We went up to camp and just globbed around all weekend.”

Laury: Referring to overcast weather; “It’s been laury out all week.”

Rig: Flamboyant personality; “His grandfather was a bit of a rig, always the center of attention.”

Scrid: Tiny portion; “All that was left of the soup was the scrids. What a ripoff!”

Drove right up: Busy; “At Christmas we’re drove right up, so it may take longer.”

Sprills: Dropped tree needles, “The roof’s all covered in sprills.”

Riley: Used to describe the color of the ocean after a big storm; “The bay was all riley this morning.”

Stivering: To walk unsteadily; “She was stivering down the street, so I got out of the way.”

Barvel: A fisherman’s apron made of leather or oilcloth; “They measured the lobsters, water splashing against their barvels.”

Money cat: A calico cat, especially one with at least three colors; “Aunt Kathy’s new kitten is a money cat; she’s good luck.”

Short: An illegal, undersize lobster; “They got fined for not throwing the shorts back.”

Eighteen-hundred-and-froze-to-death: the period of 1816-17, one of the worst winters Maine ever experienced; “Jeezum, it ain’t been this cold since Eighteen-hundred-and-froze-to-death!”

Fog mull: a heavy, stationary fog bank; “That fog mull rolled in wicked fast, and now I can’t see anything.”

Groaners: a whistling buoy or foghorn; “Those groaners are freaking me out so much I can’t sleep!”

Ploye: traditional Acadian buckwheat pancake; “Ployes with butter and maple syrup are totally delicious.”

Seems like a wicked good day to be making Ployes and after go globbing around in a fog mull before you stiver down the street in the teeming rain for a scrid of food with your rig friend at the lobster shack!!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A new design for Green Hive Honey's Bees Knees

Here is the original 40 oz jar and label design of "The Bees Knees" from Green Hive Honey Farm of Camden, Maine. Just recently Magy and Clay decided to do some smaller jars containing 1lb of the delightful elixir so a new jar was resourced and a new label needed - a much smaller, rectangular one. So the original was 3.3" diameter thus:
...a nice amount of space to fill - and the new size is 2.5" deep by 1.5" wide rectangle - a mite trickier to work with and get all the visuals and the necessary type in - but I rose to challenge and here is the result:
Front label
Back label
Luckily - or smartly for I am being humble - I had originally created all the attendant motifs for the design and logo as individual parts when I painted them in watercolour so after I had scanned and cleaned them they are easy to move around as necessary and resize for new layouts.
I printed the labels up on full sticky sheets and cut them out individually with my trusty Xacto and a cutting board that is as old as the hills.
Don't you love the way they look all laid out together - they look like old fashioned trading cards or the cards one - not me but one -  used to get in cigarette packets in another age.
...and here are the new jars filled and ready to go off to "Fresh off the Farm" in Rockport - see the Green Hive there in the background?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter - it's snowing in Maine!!

It's only snowing a teeny tiny bit and there are breaks of almost sun in between. Our daffodils are not out yet so I thought you might enjoy the daffodil painting above and the two Easter lily designs below. Happy Easter.

"Gilding the Lily"
"Serape" - a pencil drawing rug design
 Enjoy your day, don't eat too much chocolate - Patricia

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hot Cross Bun Bread and Butter Pudding for Easter 2012

I have to be honest and admit I am not that big of a fan of Bread and Butter Puddings - I have made them on a number of occasions and have only once really liked the results but this particular Bread and Butter Pudding is a winner - it is soft, pillowy and luscious with an intriguing spicy overtone. I made the Hot Cross Buns from scratch instead of buying them but you could so easily use store bought and take the hardest and most time consuming part out of the equation. I did make Hot Cross Buns about three years ago here on the blog - then they turned out like little bricks - this time I had to make them twice - first time they burnt on the bottom with a specific Hot Cross Bun recipe to remain nameless:
These weren't bad taste wise but they too were a little hard and oh those burnt bun buns!!
Next I tried a sticky bun recipe that has been very successful for me - the bottoms were quite well done but not burnt - yea!!! - and the buns came out very favourful and a nice texture but a totally different texture to when I use this dough for sticky buns apparently so because spice retards and changes the yeast processing - which it most certainly did - here is the second crop of Hot Cross Buns:
So here we go if you want to make your own
This made 9 small buns but you can easily double the recipe if you want more.

FIRST make the 'sponge':
1/2 tablespoon of yeast (I use bulk yeast from the Belfast Coop - if you use packet yeast like Fleischmann's that would be 1 packet)
1/2 teaspoon of honey or maple syrup
3 fluid ounces/80mls warm milk - warm almost hot to the touch

Mix these 3 ingredients in a small warm bowl and leave in a warm place for about 10 minutes until thick, bubbly and creamy as below:
8oz/250g plain flour
1 large egg well beaten
1oz/28g sugar
2oz/50g softened butter - always Kate's for me!!
1/2 teaspoon of mixed spice - I actually used garam masala which is a delicious Indian spice I have started using in raisiny recipes after reading that Deeba at Passionate About Baking used it in her Christmas cakes - it is delicious!
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg - I LOVE nutmeg

1.Sieve flour into a large mixing bowl, add sugar and stir in, add spices and stir in.
2. Make a well in the middle of the mix and pour in the warm yeasten mix:
 3. Add beaten egg and softened butter also and mix well together.
4. When the mix has come together put onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.
5. Put dough ball into a clean bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and place in a toasty warm spot for about 1 1/2 hours until the ball has doubled in size - this is hard to judge but if your room is warm (70Fish) it should be just right at 1 1/2 hours:
IN THE LAST 10 MINUTES OR SO OF THE DOUGH RISING make the crosses - do not make them any earlier as they will dry out and be hard to use (yes I did this and they didn't work well):
Put 4 fluid ounces/125mls of cold water into a small bowl - add a big tablespoon of flour, mix, add another tablespoon and mix and continue until maybe four when the paste should be nice and thick - turn it onto a smooth surface and work a little with more flour until you get a nice smooth dough - roll out to a rectangle about 4 x 10" and then cut this into 18 strips - 2 for each bun:
Now uncover your dough and tear into about 9 even pieces and roll into balls and place evenly spaced on two buttered baking sheets - I think part of my problem with burning the first batch was not only the recipe but I used a dark baking sheet so with the second batch I covered it in foil and I think that helped lack of burnt bottoms.
Place two pieces of the dough in a cross on the tops and push them down a little to hold them in place, cover them with clean tea towels and put back in a warm place to rise for about 30 minutes - now preheat your oven to 350F/180C.

Bob your buns in the oven and bake for about 30-40 minutes until browned on the top - mine stayed kind of blond and I decided to take them out at 35 which was a good decision.

Whilst they are baking put 4 fluid ounces/125mls of water and 2 ounces/50g sugar together in a pan with 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice (or garam masala) and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg and warm until it bubbles and gets somewhat thick. Take off the heat and wait for the buns to come out of the oven.

When you take the buns out leave them to cool for about 5 minutes and then brush the sugar/spice syrup over them. Allow buns to cool and save 5 of them to make the pudding - eat the rest cut in half and slathered with butter with a nice cup of tea.

5 Hot Cross Buns
4oz butter softened
2oz/50g dark chocolate - chips or slab chopped
2oz/50g currants

For the custard:
8 fluid ounces/250ml whole milk
3 fluid ounces/100ml heavy/double cream
3 oz/75g sugar
4 egg yolks from gorgeous Farmetta Farm eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract/essence

1. Pre heat oven to 300F/150C
2. Cut Hot Cross Buns laterally into halves - or I did thirds so I could get more butter in the pudding - butter one surface of each piece.
3. Arrange half of the slices overlapping in the bottom of a glass dish about 20cm/8" square.
4. Sprinkle with half of the currants and chocolate chips.
5. Arrange remaining slices over and sprinkle with the rest of the currants and chocolate chips.
6. I dotted some more pieces of butter over the top.

1. Heat milk and cream together in a pot until just about to boil.
2. Stir in vanilla and allow to cool slightly.
3. Whisk egg yolks with sugar.
4. Slowly drizzle the hottish milk into the egg yolks and sugar and whisk all the time so the eggs don't curdle.
5. Return all of mix to the pan and cook on low heat until slightly thickned - stir all the time.
6. Take off the heat, allow to cool slightly then pour over the arranged Hot Cross Buns and allow to soak a little - press down until the custard is soaking in.

7. Put the glass dish into a larger metal pan - pour in hot water up to half the height of the glass dish and the put into the oven to bake for about 35 minutes.
 Take out of the oven et voila - a delicious creamy, yummy soft and pillowly dessert for this years Easter Festivities - I have to admit I wasn't sure about the addition of the chocolate but it really adds a nice richness and after all isn't Easter all bout chocolate??.

Happy Baking - let me know how you do - Patricia

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April is Autism Awareness Month.

In honour of my good buddy Kristofer I am joining with the CafePress community in donating 10% of the retail profits from specially tagged items in my shop from today, April 1st, until April 30th. The monies will go to two Autism charities as chosen by the CafePress community.

THIS HAS BEEN UPDATED FOR AUTISM AWARENESS 2013 - the Monarch, anything Pink Cupcake, The Angel of Belfast and also Kaleidoscope HERE
have all been tagged for April 2013

All items in my shop carrying any variation of the following images have been tagged to be part of this effort. Thanks for shopping and helping make a difference - sincerely, Patricia

This design is available in a number of variations so please just go the main store HERE

Available here
Available here
Available here

Available here