Thursday, 30 December 2010

Here's what I read in 2010

As usual, I am publishing the list of books which I have read during the past year - and here it is! I'm still getting through alarmingly less than in my past, but I'm still enjoying (nearly) every book I read. This year I have benefited from three holidays which saw me complete 1-3, 9-10 and 12-13, I find that aeroplanes are the best place for me to devour books, from the minute I strap myself in, to the moment I fight my way towards the fresh air with the masses. Perfect!

Books read 2010

1. The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zaffron (23 Feb)
2. Martyr by Rory Clements (26 feb)
3. The Curious Instance of the Dog in the Night by Mark Haddon (27 feb)
4. The Way Home by George Pelecanos (3 march) 
5. Adventures on the High Teas by Stuart Maconie (12 March)
6. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stig Larson
7. Espresso Tales by Alexander McCall Smith
8. Love Over Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith
9. When Will There be Good News? By Kate Atkinson
10. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
11. Meltdown by Ben Elton
12. New York by Edward Rutherford (17 Nov)
13. Heartstone by C J Sansom (21 Nov)
14. Barcelona Plates by Alexi Sayle (3rd Dec)
15. The Girl Who Played With Fire be Steig Larsson
16. The Unbearable Lightness of Scones by Alexander McCall Smith (Dec 28)
17. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (Dec 29)

I adored the Kate Atkinson, there's something about her character's which is just so real.  This is a story which lingered in my mind for some time.  Wolf Hall was fascinating, I've read a lot of novels set in Tudor times and it was great to see behind the scenes of the bad guy, sometimes it was hard work, but well worth the occasional dull bits.  The Millennium Trilogy (well the first two) were astonishing for their ability to make me not put them down, I've not had one of those for a while, and can't wait for the final instalment.  The Scotland Street books have been a nice little fluffy interlude now and again, it's always a pleasure to come back to familiar characters.  Middlesex was an amazing roller coaster through almost a century of life with some deep family secrets and plenty of history thrown in, I didn't love it all the way through but am very glad that if finally made it out of it's spot on the shelf.  The disappointment of the year for me was New York.  I've read a few of Edward Rutherford's books in the past and absolutely loved them - Sarum, London and The Forest were all unputdownable but New York seemed as if it had been written by a different man.  I appreciate that it's been a long time since I read the last one and my expectations will have changed, but still, I felt disappointed by it's brevity and feel that it needed to be much longer to fit in all of the things it covered. 

 I have been given a Kindle for Christmas this year (thanks dad!) and already have it well stocked with the last of the Millennium novels, The Century Trilogy part one by Ken Follett and Jump by Jilly Cooper along with a whole selection of free classics ranging from The Illiad to Mrs Beaton. I think I'll take to it pretty fast and have already started the Steig Larson.

My aim for 2011 is to read plenty of classics as there's a whole raft of them to be had for £0 on my new toy and to have a shot at Sherlock Holmes which I've never read. We'll see and I'll post again in a year!

Friday, 24 December 2010

The aroma of Christmas is all around. Finally.

Despite the distinct lack of general Christmasyness at home; no decorations, tree, or twinkly lights and the cards aren't even up, there is a whiff of Christmas in the air.  Much of the whiff is down to the 5kg chunk of smoked gammon which has been cooking for nearly five hours in a coating of ground star anise, corriander seeds, dried chilli and basted with a dangerously sticky mixture of hoisin sauce and honey.  It smells wonderful and despite the inch thick patina of burnt black stuff around the edges of the tin, I think that all is well.  The meat has been transferred to a dish which hasn't had the lethally burny combination of honey and hoisin pooling in it's base for four hours and I do hope that it hasn't been tainted.  To add to the distinct aroma of the season is a pot of spicy red cabbage with apple bubbling away, I love this vegetable accompaniment and think that it will cut through the sweetness of the gammon nicely.  Very soon I hope to be able to detect the distinctly satisfying bouquet of crispy jacket potato skins as well.  There is a ruby red pot of cranberry sauce sitting in the fridge ready to go to mum's to glam up her turkey tomorrow.  I have wrapped presents for Peter and my parents and will no doubt be roped (or ribboned) in to do Peter's wrapping too.

My Etsy sales have finally dried up for the holidays and I have a great hope that once everyone has opened their gifts where ever they are in the world, all of my lovely customers will come flocking back to treat themselves to the gifts they didn't indulge in during December.

I shall finish off this Chrismas Eve with a very nice and peaceful green Treasury which features my Fresh and Green notecard, it's nice to have a break from all of the reds and snowflakery.

A Happy Christmas to you all!

Winter Greens by GMA Jewellery

My Picture's in the Guardian.....

I entered a photo competition in the Guardian's travel section last month some time and totally forgot about it until last night when I found that it has been happily sitting there on the website for a while now.  Unfortunately it didn't make it as the winner for that month, perhaps if I had been aware of it I could have nagged my friends to vote for mine, but never mind, it's still nice to see it there!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Who needs meat?

We had a bit of a veggie feast for supper tonight, with a vat of roast vegetables. There were onions, carrots, garlic, fennel, red pepper and aubergine with some cherry and baby plum tomatoes and olives thrown in at half time. Along with this little lot was my long time favourite of brown basmati rice and to top it off a naughty little treat. The treat in question was a big, beautiful and spicy onion bhaji which we bought at Unicorn (local vegan co-op), heated up, it was delicious with wonderful crispy edges. Topped off with a dollop of plain yoghurt. Yummy!

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone!

Monday, 20 December 2010

A very foody weekend.

As is traditional in the lead up to Christmas, I have spent much of my time eating.  I am very happy to spend my time eating so long as my fussy tastes are catered for.  I will try to avoid any form of pre made supermarket bought 'party food' as I have an aversion to filo pastry and little tarts and I would rather that people actually put a little effort into the catering if they have decided to entertain at home.  Demanding, picky, impractical, rude?  Perhaps, but that's my view.

This particular weekend of piggery starting off with a very nice meal at a posh pub in Knutsford, The Dun Cow (amazingly, it has no website).  We had been invited round to friends' for supper and due to last minute dramas ran out of time to cook and instead treated us to a slap up feast (smoked salmon, lamb hotpot) as we watched the light and fluffy snow gently fall from the sky to carpet the countryside in glorious white.  This prettiness did rather hinder our departure time and we hurried home at a stately 40mph in my little Smart Car which is really rather splendid in the snow.  We're glad we didn't have further to travel and felt sorry for all the poor people stuck in drifts and cold all over the place.

The next evening we had been invited to our neighbours for supper, we have been waving to each other in the car park for a few years and finally met and chatted in the corner shop buying our Sunday papers a couple of weekends ago.  That led to coffee and much chat and then an invitation to supper along with another set of neighbours (yes, it's a friendly place).  We were treated to the most yummy home cooked Indian feast with mutton, prawns and monkfish, lamb and a chicken dish.  It was all delicious.

Then Sunday saw us at local friends for our now traditional pre-Xmas seafood feast which consists of lobster, crab (claws and dressed brown), smoked salmon, oysters, sea bass carpaccio, giant prawns roasted with garlic and chilli, all washed down with a magnum of Prosecco and followed with more delicious white wine and two massive chunks of Mrs Kirkham's tasty Lancashire and a super tasty Lancashire which were gorgeous.  Home made lemon cheesecake finished us of very nicely! 

Here are some pictures from our seafood feast:

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Lavender's not Silly.

Here's a very pretty Treasury which features my Lavender Simply Against a Plain Wall print. It caught my eye as a change from all of the Christmasiness, and it's very good to see an image other than The Ministry of Silly Walks being used!

I have now posted a massive two Christmas cards, bought two gifts in a real life shop, ordered one over the phone to be collected and made one calender to give to a friend tomorrow. This is the total extent of my preparation for the festive season. At least it's an improvement from when I last wrote here, when I had done precisely nothing! Tomorrow I am heading to the pretty market town of Ashbourne to meet up with an old school chum to have a catch up pre-Xmas-sans-children and also to hand over two canvas prints I have had made for her personal training business, Zest4Life, which you really should check out if you need to look after your body!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Christmas is coming and I haven't sent (or written) a single card....

The roller-coaster ride towards Christmas continues!  I've started to think about sending out some cards, which is actually pretty early for me as anyone who knows me knows that I am seriously laid back about Christmas and rather wish that it would all go away.....considering I make and sell cards, I am alarmingly reticent about using them for myself.  This year I had my first cards printed and they haven't sold very well (apart from 20 Snowmen to a lovely friend) so I may as well use the rest of them myself, I don't want them hanging around until next year.

There continues to be a lovely wealth of seasonal Treasuries on Etsy featuring my work, and with the brilliant new Treasury ap from those clever people at Craftcult I really don't have any excuse not to post them as frequently as I used to!  Here's the latest one and it's UK themed one and is really rather jolly!

(Click directly on each image to see the full details in it's Etsy Shop)

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Perfect for the man in your life.

My Crosby Steps print has been selected as a great gift for a difficult to buy for man!  I can't possibly disagree with that, so thanks to Ron over at Etsy for picking my print for his rarefied selection!

Postage is still good to the UK in time for Christmas, so if you have a man who needs a gift, now's your chance!

The snow's all gone now here in Manchester and it's much warmer but a bit dreary really after all of the beautiful crispy whiteness.  Never mind, I'm sure it will be back soon.

We're off to Lincoln in a bit to shoot Mr Robeson again.......

Friday, 10 December 2010

It's been busy, but I've been here all along!

After the shopping frenzy of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales when I enjoyed a shed load of orders Eyeshoot's back to normal!  While I miss the fun of selling loads of prints, I do like the quieter times as I get a chance to plan, plot and catch up with things I've meant to do and put off.  One of these things was to finally get around to making my book of graffiti photos.  I've made a few books with Blurb over the years, but the daunting task of organizing several hundreds of images spread across multiple drives, discs and sticks did rather chill my enthuasism.  But spurred on by a very generous discount voucher which I picked up at the Blurb Pop Up event in London a month or so ago and a bit of a lull in sales and queueing at the post office, I finally got my act togeher and settled down to business.

And here's the result!  Things on Walls by Sarah Franklin, 120 glorious full colour pages of graffiti, stickers, stencils, paste ups, random notes on walls from London, Manchester, Liverpool, Barcelona with a couple of wildcards from Crete and Fuerteventura thrown in for luck.

The book preview doodad below will show you the first fifteen pages and hopefully when your appetite.  My copy hasn't arrived in my eager little hands yet, but I'm hoping it won't be too much longer.