An office in the sun!

Well, this is a rare occurrence,  Higgins and I have moved outside.  We’re on the veranda outside the studio, there’s blue sky, sunshine, flowers, birdsong…What could be better?office_in_the_sun

Only last week we were huddled under a blanket (in Higgins case, three blankets) watching the rain lash down so I’m making the most of every minute now.

There is just one weekend left of Open Studios here in Norfolk and it’s been good, as usual.  Really nice to meet the people who come to visit who are really interested in what we do, and in who, in turn, have interesting stories to tell.  Higgins has been working well with the meeting and greeting, he even had an assistant!Higgins&CocoIt did get very tiring in the end though…tired Higgins

I have been been diligent in my decluttering efforts.  So many things which I have made in order to create patterns, but eventually I have to reluctantly part with them in order to make room in the studio, and in my head, for new ideas.

It’s not easy! The knitting mobile has been sold…Knitters Mobile from Planet Penny

it’s off to Germany as a present.

And the Hearts and Flowers Mobile is off to grace a little ones bedroom which is lovely.  It’s nice to know it will have a good home.

Hearts and Flowerts Mobile from Planet PennyQuite a few little needlefelted pieces have been sold too, although I’m not going to part with Clover the sheep!

Flock of needlefelt sheep - Planet Penny

Clover is the one in the middle!

So if you are in the area next weekend do call in.  There’s bunting and baubles and fairy lights and books too!  I’m never going to rival decluttering queen Marie Kondo, but I’m trying!

Back soon…x

Sourdough – science in the kitchen

In my last post I touched on my latest cookery book, ‘Perfecting Sourdough’, by Jane Mason.  I’m finding it all so amazing (I know, I’m very easily amazed!) I really had to tell you about it.

Perfecting SourdoughI’ve tried to get a sourdough starter going before but just got a nasty, smelly, watery mess in a jam jar but an article in one of the Sunday papers recently set me off again.  I followed the instructions to the letter and got… another nasty, smelly, watery mess.  (One of the reasons for a failed starter, apparently is a too clean house…)

Once I’d picked myself up off the floor and wiped my eyes I headed off to the internet, where I found Breadtopia, where Eric had the answer to my problems.   Eric uses unsweetened pineapple juice in the starter and it worked perfectly.  I love the whole science lab experiment thing of creating a new life form on the kitchen worktop (rather than the back of the fridge where they usually happen) 

Once you have a happy, healthy starter you use a portion of it to make a loaf and the rest sits in a jar in the fridge for next time.  Once it gets a bit small you refresh it with a meal of flour and water and it just keeps going.  There are reports of some starters being over one hundred years old!

Making sourdough bread is long process, but not an intensive one.  Apart from the kneading stage, which takes ten minutes and is a good anti ‘bingo wing’ activity, the rest of the time it just sits about rising and requires a bit of poking now and then.  The result is DEE-licious.  Much more flavour than ordinary bread, the slow rise makes it more digestible, and its just wholemeal flour, water and salt.

Sourdough

I was horrified to learn that one of the 17 ingredients of a standard sliced loaf was actually palm oil.

So that’s why I splashed out on this book.  Lots of lovely recipes for different breads, cakes, pancakes and waffles using a sourdough starter which I’m looking forward to trying out.

Have I whetted your appetite?  I’d love to know if you decide have a go at making your own starter, or if you are a seasoned baker and have some tips to share.

See you soon…x

 

Hello June!

Rubbish, aren’t I?  It’s been a whole month…

My excuse, however is the run up to Norfolk & Norwich Open Studios, which started last weekend.  I now have a few days grace before we open again on Saturday so here I am with a little round up of the last month.

I sorted out my vegetable patch.  Here it is, showcasing the Anti-Dachshund Preventative Flag SystemRaised BedThis is how well it worked…HigginsIn RaisedBedHmm…back to the drawing board on that I think.

In the rest of the garden the flowers have been wonderful. Under the Laburnum tree the air just vibrates with the buzzing of bees.  It’s such a shame that the whole wonderful display barely lasts a week…LaburnumThere have been poppies…Poppyand Granny Bonnets (although the best ones have self seeded in the verge outside the fence)…Granny BonnetsCherry blossom…Cherry BlossomRhododendron… rhododendronI love the ‘rhubarb and custard’ colours, don’t you?

And my favourite ‘Dog Daisies…Dog Daisy

I bought a super new book…Perfecting Sourdoughabout which, more later…

And had a spotty manicure!ManicureBut my big decision of the month is for a Planet Penny clear out.  As I have said in previous posts, I am gradually trying to whittle away the ‘stuff’ which bogs me down.  As much as I have been happy with my ‘makes’, I need to move things on to clear space not just in the studio, but in my head.

So I’m having a Planet Penny Silly Sale during Open Studios, and selling off all sorts of items, materials and end of line yarn at bargain prices.IMG_20160528_204927If you live in the Norfolk area and would like to snap something up, pay a visit to our Two Rivers Trail come and see me, and make me an offer I can’t refuse!

See you soon…x

 

It’s May Day…

May Day morning

Can it really be May already?  I can’t believe how the year is rushing by…

The Norfolk & Norwich Open Studios is looming up once more which is why I haven’t been around for a while.  I did my usual thing of thinking – a lot – about my piece for the Taster Exhibition for Open Studios at the Forum in Norwich, and then realising I hadn’t actually made it!

So here it is, and you’ll see that it came very much from the place I’ve been over the past months…

Norfolk & Norwich Open Studios 2016 'Knitting as Therapy' Knitting as Therapy 2In fact the long scarf was made when I really couldn’t do anything else and it all fell into place in the end.

I’m glad I can look at it now as from a distance, making it it was definitely good therapy.  My next piece is a return to normal Planet Penny jollity,  a special needlefelt project for my god daughter.  It’s a bespoke cake topper for her wedding cake so I can’t possibly share it until after the big day I’m afraid.  However, I will be popping back in the build up to opening the studio to let you know the details because it would be great if you can visit.

So, see you soon…x

Landlust – A New Magazine

Landlust CoverIf you love the countryside, then the magazine, Landlust, which dropped through my letterbox a week or so ago will be right up your street.

It’s full of  all the things which just click with me, living a creative life close to nature; and with the sun shine and the birds song of the past few days has been the perfect antidote after the grey winter months.

There is stitching, and gardening, cooking, baking, wildlife and interiors and I’m feeling very inspired…Montage of photos from Landlust Magazine

The photography is beautiful, and has encouraged me to get back outside with my camera…Forget me not and bee - LandlustWith a spot of sniffing on the way…Hyacinth - Landlust

By the way…Higgins has taken up ornithology!  We have magpies nesting in the garden and they they have been throwing down the sticks which don’t fit their building plan for Higgins to play with…Higgins

He’s even had a friend round to help!Higgins So the gardening features in Landlust have got me back outside making plans… and I also have a hankering to make a few of those little drawstring bags. (Well I can’t simplify my life without finding somewhere to store everything can I?)drawstring bags from Landlust magazineand there is a recipe for Black Forest Gateau…oh dear, that’s the healthy eating out of the window then.

Thank you for joining me back here on Planet Penny, I do love to hear from you.

I’m gradually getting back into the swing of things, and with Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios coming up there is a lot going on.  I’ll be back soon….x

My Word for the Year – Simplify

A few weeks ago while I was feeling overwhelmed by life, and basically just STUFF, I realised the first step was to Simplify everything.  I came across Jessica Swift’s Goal And Intention Kit
2016_Goal_Intention_Kit-cover-square - word for the year - Simplify  I found this was a perfect way to focus my mind, almost the first page I filled in was the ‘Word for the Year page’.  Obviously my word was SIMPLIFY and I’m sharing my thought processes right here…

Word for the year - Simplify(You might think now being a quarter of the way into the year makes this post slightly out of date, but who says a new year can’t begin at the Spring equinox?  ‘Today is the first day of the rest of your life’ and all that!)

For an inveterate hoarder who has just inherited a houseful more stuff that sounds like a tall order but ‘Baby Steps’ they say and I’m actually getting much better at donating things, giving things away and even, when all else fails, going to the tip!

As it’s William Morris‘ 182nd birthday today it’s seem appropriate to say I am using as my mantra his famous saying…

Simplify - Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautifulI’ve only got the one house, how hard can it be?  (oh, and there’s the studio….and the shed...)

Anyway, how about all you out there, my creative friends?  Are you minimalists or do you hang on to every little thing – just in case – like I have for far too many years.  I know I’m not a tidy person but I also know how much clutter cramps my creativity, and I need my creativity!

If you think a word for your year would focus your mind you can make it official on the OneWord365 website.  I joined the #Simplify Tribe! (I am definitely ‘a work in progress’)

I’ll be back with a be-YOO-tiful new magazine to review, inspiration for the simple life.

See you soon…x

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