Friday, August 22, 2008

Competition Time!

Hi everyone - I need help! I have a new product for DevonBear Designs which I'm anxious to put on the website, but I have a problem - I can't think of a name for it. It came about originally because of the Babychange Bag .....

Which, as you can see, has a very long handle - to go on shoulder or over buggy handles. Now this is fine, but it left me with a long rounded piece of fabric that was too small for most projects, but too big to waste. Then I realised that the shape was very like that of the bottom of the Amie bag - but probably just a bit narrower....
Here's the Amie Bag so you can see the bottom ..

And I had an idea ... initially just for the nursery. What about making some sort of container to keep things tidy. So, basing the shape on the Amie Bag pattern, but making the interior from 12oz canvas to give strength and some rigidity, I made a pouch shape - then put a large brass eyelet in the back for hanging. (Love all that banging with the hammer - great for working off stress!) And this is what it came out like .....

The new product
And then I thought - but it will stand up too, and why keep it just for the nursery (although it will be good to hang over the end of a cot - maybe with a velcro loop?)

So I made more .....

And then I made one in vintage linen. It looks great hanging next to the Aga piled high with my vintage moulds.

I'm sure other people would find them useful too. And I want to put them on my website, but can't think of a name (got hung up on tidy pocket, which does what it says, but isn't very exciting).

So, as I said at the beginning of this post, I need help. Suggestions for a name for this product would be much appreciated.

And the best one will win a "tidy pocket" by any other name!! Please leave your entry as a comment - the competition will close on 31 August when I'll contact the winner and let everyone else know the name.

Thanks for your help.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Time for Tea

Of course the poem I had in mind when setting the hands on this clock was not Hickory Dickory Dock at all, but Rupert Brooke's Grantchester with its final evocative line ...

"Stands the church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?"

Thinking of honey, there has been a lot of publicity lately about the mystery honey bee illness that has been decimating hives across America and now there are fears that it might have reached Britain. I was talking to a local bee keeper last week and thankfully there are no signs of problems in our locality as yet, and hopefully never.

Certainly the bees have been busy these last few weeks in the gaps between rainfall. First the lavender which thrives in the hot and (normally) sunny garden at the front of the house, and lately they have been drawn to the ice-plants which are just coming into flower. They are so funny to watch on these, they seem to adore the nectar, becoming drowsy and heavy, hardly able to summon the strength to lift themselves in flight!

Of course the ice-plants flowering is the signal that summer, such as it has been this year, will soon be over and autumn will be upon us. I love autumn, the whiff of woodsmoke on the wind as everyone begins to tidy their gardens, the first chill in the air and the woods just edged in gold. But I do hope we see something of summer first! I was asked to paint some beach huts for a local shop to feature on some bags ....
And then I considered all our usual summer treats that have sadly been few and far between this year ... eating in the gazebo, with the starlight and the moon and our delicate Japanese lanterns strung from the trees in festive fashion .... hot summer afternoons swinging gently in the stripey hammock .... sand between my toes and in the sandwiches at the beach ... but maybe September will be fine - there's still time...

Rosie returns from her gap year in three weeks time, it's hard to believe she's been away since January, the time has passed so quickly. She's spent the last few weeks in Thailand, and has ridden elephants, stroked tigers and enjoyed beach parties under a full moon. Returning to England may well be a shock to the system, but it will be wonderful to see her again. She's requested large quantities of Galaxy chocolate, and Mum's roast dinner to celebrate her return!

In the summer I often roast new potatoes with rosemary from the garden and will leave you with this easy recipe ...

You need a nice hot oven. Put your new potatoes (cut them in half if they're large) into a plastic bag with a tablespoon of olive oil, chopped rosemary (garlic too if you like), some sea salt and cracked black pepper, then squidge around in the bag until they're nicely coated. Tip onto a heavy baking tray and roast for 30 mins. Turn over and leave a bit longer if needed - and that's it. Lovely cold too - good to take on picnics (but watch out for marauding newfies - they adore them!). Happy days indeed!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Homegrown is best!

As an amateur vegetable grower I must admit to some doubts regarding the productivity of my patch. Flowers - yes, I've grown flowers all my adult life, but vegetables - no - not until now that is. My kind next door neighbours started me off with some tomato and courgette plants, to which I added runner beans (almost foolproof), aubergines and peppers. We may well have had one of the wettest Julys ever down here in Devon but, fuelled by the warm sunshine we have enjoyed between the rain, my plants have grown and grown and grown.

And tonight I was proud to present my adaptation of Gordon Ramsay's Fish and Tomato Chowder. It was DELICIOUS!! Here's how it goes....

First put on your very beautiful DevonBear apron


good splash of olive oil
1 or 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, roughly chopped
couple of handfuls of small new potatoes (pre-cook these or use up leftovers)
1 yellow pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
a few thyme sprigs from my own garden
2 bay leaves from my own garden
400g tin chopped tomatoes (but I think when my own are ready I shall use these and just add more stock)
1 pint hot fish or chicken stock
2 courgettes, roughly chopped from my own garden
handful of green beans cut into short lengths from my own garden
some chilli flakes to taste
1 lb white fish fillets (the fish van that visits the village every Thursday has a good selection of mixed fish fillets - only £3.50 for 1 lb)
bunch of parsley, roughly chopped from my own garden


  • Heat olive oil in heavy casserole. Add onions and celery, cook for 6-8 mins to soften. Then add carrots, pepper and herbs, then saute for 5-10 mins until veg are lightly golden.

  • Add tomatoes and stock to pan, plus courgettes and beans and chilli if desired. Simmer for 5 mins. Thicken with a bit of cornflour/water if desired, then add potatoes, and simmer to warm through potatoes.

  • Put most of the fish fillets on top of the vegetable mix in the pan. Give the remaining fish to the newfies who are absolutely starving as they haven't eaten for oh - at least 2 hours.

  • Cover and simmer for 5-10 mins (bottom oven of Aga for me) until fish is just cooked through.

  • Break the fish into large flakes and gently stir through casserole. Ladle into bowls and eat in secret so that the newfies don't realise what you're doing.

And that's it! It's so delicious you don't even realise it's healthy too. (Can always be followed with chocolate icecream, chocolate cake or best of all chocolate dipped strawberries if desired!)

Blog Widget by LinkWithin