Friday, April 29, 2011

Acacia Flowers In Tempura Batter

The Poplars are now shedding all their seeds which is like watching a  fluffy snow storm  drifting across the garden, it floats around and it tickles when it lands on you. Next to them are the Acacia's with their beautiful clusters of white hanging flowers and a smell of  warm honey in the air for days to come. Time to eat some!

If you have never tried  Acacia flowers in a tempura batter before then I recommend it, it has a delicate flavour of honey and leaves a great  taste in your mouth and you keep going back for more. Great with cream or a dusting of icing sugar or dipped in chocolate.

So if you happen to have an acacia tree close by pick a few flowers and give it a go.

For the batter I used:

•1 egg
•1 cup ice water/cold water
•1 cup all purpose flour, sifted

Beat an egg in a bowl. Add the iced water.  Add sifted flour and mix lightly. Be careful not to overmix the batter. Then deepfry until golden brown. Delicious, let me know if you try it out would love to hear what you try it with. Enjoy!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

******Jose De La Barra ******

On submitting an item to TotalArtSoul today,  this artists work just leapt out at me and  bowled me over. Wonderful, imaginative, beautiful, so I thought you might also  like to see his work. I have used Jose's own words below as he sums it up perfectly. Enjoy

JoseDelaBarra has created a dream-like world through his expressing the internal and external fantasies of his imagination with his precise talents in painting and drawing. The expressions and the sensual movements that appear in each piece, create mystic allegories about the universe. By combining his interest in the human form with his desire for symbolic content, he has engendered a language that explains the human condition through a unique perspective.

There is a method through which he develops his art relying on material and composition to develop his personal, magical universe. De la Barra considers himself a Surrealist, one who plays and exaggerates reality as perceived in this subjective world. He attended the Fine Arts Autonomous Superior School in Lima, Peru, where he studied Painting, Illustration, and Murals, combining this academic training whith innate tendencies toward abstraction, he developed a figurative style that was immediately well received and noted for its innovation.

De la Barra, reputation is well pronounced throughout South America, and has lead to a long career history of eminent exhibitions and Awards. His reputation has sent his work all over Europe and North America where he is recognized as one of the most innovative artists of his generation.

*****If Buckles Could Blush*****

I was sitting at my desk surrounded by all my buttons and other bits and bobs, as I reached out to pick up my tweezers I knocked a box of buckles over and a blue one landed on my lap and begged me do something with her. What would you like to be?  of course buckles don't speak (well mine don't) but they are very good at planting ideas, so after laying her to one side I then started to imagine colours that would go with the blue, it took me 3 weeks to find all that I needed and here she is what do you think of her?

The first piece I added was a vintage earring with silver grey beads, black & silver striped beads and a silver filigree bead in the centre. Much searching went on and then I remembered a friend had given me a few silver toggle buttons with cute little flowers so that was next. Hmm, so far so good but now what! None of the blue buttons I have worked on her, then my little eye fell onto a diamante belt and so cut a length of and swept it over the centre of the buckle. Next came the vintage white glass button but it looked bored sitting there on it's own so, a little bit of chain and the end of the belt added.

Nearly done but still had to find something for under the toggle button ah ha! two shell flower buttons did the trick and a length of rosary beads and a little pearl popped in the middle. Then I found the key and that was the last piece. For the back I covered it with some baby blue silk and then added a bail and well now what do I call her?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Domaine Sarrabelle One Of My Favourite Wines oh Yum!

 I had to pop down to the vineyard today to pick up a few cases of their delicious Syrah and had a fabulous bottle of Mauzac thrown in! Now how cool is that but not uncommon here in France to be offered a cadeau. Fabien & Laurent are two very hard working lads and produce a wine of excellent quality, how lucky for me that it is only a 15 min drive from my house!! 

GRAPE VARIETY 100% Syrah............ Syrah 2007 (Oak Aged)

The grapes are first crushed and the wine making process is traditional with fermentation from 10/12 days. The wine is then aged for 12 months in oak barrels, crafted by various coopers.

With complex aromas and a beautiful colour, this well-structured wine has soft tannins and a wonderfully long finish. This wine needs to be decanted at room temperature.

Eighth generation of wine growers since 1795
 The Mythical expression of a terroir

Legend has it that the source of Sarrabelle , which springs up near the medieval Montaigut castle, was the place of « rendezvous » with the beautiful Yolande. Its name comes from an old Occitan expression  "sarrobello" which means to embrace one’s love.

Fabien and Laurent Caussé in front of their vineyard:
From the castle’s destruction during the crusade against the Albigeois,
only the foundations remained, upon which the Montaigut chapel was built . Today, Laurent and Fabien Caussé  gave the name of this source to their wines.

They produce top-of-the-line wines such as the vintage Saint André and Mauzac de Sarrabelle. Permanent research, in keeping with agricultural tradition has led to the development of a sweet white wine ( in limited production) sought after and served in the finest gourmet restaurants .

Harvest of the Mauzac.
 Tradition, innovation and quality are the Caussé brothers trademark.

Surface: 39 hectares

The Sarrabelle Estate benefits from the influences of three weather systems:

1.Atlantic: mild and temperate conditions, which encourage the growth of the wines.
2.Continental: fresh northeasterly breezes in spring being a major contributor to the success of its white wines.
3.Mediterranean: warm summers and the hot winds of the Vent d’Autan bringing the grapes to maturity.

The vineyard is located on the right bank of the River Tarn, where the molassic hills are characterised by chalk, sand, and sandstone, perfect for the production of the highest quality white and red wines.

The wine cellar at
Lisle sur Tarn

Friday, April 15, 2011

Monograms From Days Gone By

One of the oldest forms of identification in the world, and is still widely recognized and used today? The Monogram.

A monogram is a symbol that is created out of letters. This is deemed as a very personal item as the monograms are usually the initials of the person who owns the item.

I love them and I only ever succeeded to do one successful monogram and it took me roughly about 17 hours as I unpicked, redid, unpicked again till my fingers screamed at me to stop. I fully intend to do another but have no idea when and hope my eyes last out long enough to create another. A professional could have done it in half the time I am sure.

Today’s technology allows you to create monograms on a machine but for me,  although very clever  it doesn’t sit right with me, although a friend of mine has created some beautiful pieces so perhaps I have the wrong attidute. I guess I am a romantic and when I think of the young victorian girls sitting for hours creating works of art that we can still enjoy today and for many years to come I hope. Plus, I want to say I did that! and not my machine ( anyway I don’t have one and probably never will)

So when I see vintage monogrammed sheets at vide greniers and brocantes, and I can afford them I have to have. Thought I would let you see just  a few of mine. !

The book above has some fabulous examples and shows you all the stitches so perhaps before my dotage I will get down to trying again.

Friday, April 8, 2011

****Millinery Masterclass with Dillion Wallwork- Chateau Dumas 16-23 July 2011****

Total Beginner Level with Dillon Wallwork
16-23 JULY 2011

Those who enrol on our beginner’s millinery masterclass also get the opportunity to visit the local international hat festival, Estivales du Chapeau, which ends on the evening of Monday 18 July. With its numerous stalls, catwalk shows, exhibitions and hat design competition, the festival is an inspiration to anyone interesting in hat-making. The festival is the perfect place to pick up ideas for hat designs and the visits we plan to make on the first two days will really help you to prepare.

As a beginner you will be guided and supported at every stage of the hat-making process by Dillon Wallwork . In his role a Design Director for Philip Somerville, Dillon oversaw the production of millinery for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Diana, Princess of Wales as well as other high profile clientele including Joan Collins, Jerry Hall and the Begum Aga Kahn.

"A fabulous week with so much fun! The food, accommodation, activities, picnics and candlelit dinners were all wonderful - not to mention the millinery course!" Suzanne from NSW, Australia.

All the skills and technique required to make hats in felt, sinamay and straw are covered during the five days of full-time tuition. Through daily demonstrations and discussions you will learn about every stage and become both competent and confident with the basic techniques of blocking, brim wiring and trimming.

 Dillon is a patient and thorough teachers whose warm and pleasant manner generates an enjoyable and productive workroom atmosphere. You’ll leave this course with a basic grounding and all-round knowledge of couture millinery and a familiarity with the millinery terms, materials and stitches. You can expect to complete at least two hats during the week in a choice of sinamay, straw or felt.

The Essentials

The price of 1400Euros (non-participating partners: 950 Euros) includes:

•7 nights Chateau accommodation and all meals
•5 days of tuition for 7 hours a day
•Transport to the Festival and hat factories
•Craft kit with scissors, needles, etc
•Use of equipment and all foundation materials
•Felt and straw cones and capelines, sinamay by the metre, petersham and other materials are available to buy at the Chateau

The workshop will run with a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 12 participants

A 25% non-returnable deposit wil secure your place with the balance due 8 weeks before the start of the workshop.

We take Visa & Mastercard
To check availability please email:


Chateau Dumas lies one hour north of Toulouse city centre and Toulouse Blagnac international airport. Many trains a day also run to Montauban and Toulouse from Paris. We offer pick up service at Toulouse airport or Montauban Station for 30E pp each way. Alternatively there are trains to the local station (Caussade) where we can pick you up for free.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Chateau Dumas Workshop Winner Announced for 2011

Delighted to announce that the winner for the Chateau Dumas Workshop giveaway 2011 is Louise Giordano. She will be joining us in the Festive French Country Workshop.
Congratulations Louise and really look forward to meeting you at the Chateau.  Here is a taste of what's in store for Louise.


with Anna Corba and Ros Badger

9-16 OCTOBER 2011

From gorgeous handmade presents to original designs for tree and home decorations, this rewarding and well-planned week of joyful creativity is the ultimate Christmas holiday workshop led by British textile expert Ros Badger ( and US paper artist Anna Corba ( both authors of successful books.

Drawing on Anna’s expertise in crafting with paper and Ros’ skill with textiles and found objects, you’ll be inspired during this innovative workshop to make a variety of unique pieces to keep or give to friends and family. You’ll discover the unexpected value of ordinary objects and how easily they can be turned into desirable pieces, and how scraps of vintage textiles and notions can be upcycled in new and interesting ways.

Projects lined up for this madly creative week include journals, notebooks, tags, garlands, cards and keepsakes made from vintage and new paper which is enhanced and embellished through tea-staining, collage and beeswax glazes. The fabric-based activities will range from fabulous Christmas stockings, advent calendars, bags of all kinds and charming gift ideas from pincushions to tea cosies and more.

Handmade gifts for friends and family (and original ideas for wrapping and presenting them), tree and home decorations and delicious recipes for holiday entertaining are all part of the week. Patterns, templates and instructions guide you at every stage, helping you to progress quickly through your projects with Ros, Anna or one of the assistants always on hand. There’s even a recipe book for you to take away with you with festive drinks and scrumptious snacks from around the world.

Sessions take place in the large, well-equipped studio which is stocked with a full range of materials, many of which are included in the cost of the workshop. There is an assortment of tools and equipment from sewing machines and irons to and eyelet tools and glue guns for your use. Additional materials are available to buy and some of the creative projects will cost extra.

No special expertise or experience is necessary to take part in this workshop.

The Essentials

The price of 1450Euros (non-participating partners: 950 Euros) includes .

•7 nights Chateau accommodation and all meals

•5 days of tuition for 7 hours a day

•Transport to the market and hat factories

•Basic materials and use of equipment

•Some creative projects will cost extra

The workshop will run with a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 14 participants

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Love's Old Sweet Song

As I was searching through  my old boxes looking for a poem that my niece sent to me a few years ago, I somehow managed to get completely sidetracked "again" by my old postcards. I love reading them and before I know it I am surrounded in birthday greetings, good wishes and see you soon cards from 1904 onwards.

From a postcard dated 24/05/05

Even to-day we hear love's song of yore,
Deep in our hearts it dwells for ever more:
Footsteps may falter,weary grow the way.
Still we can hear it at the close of the day.
So till the end, when life's dim shadow fall,
Love will be found the sweetest song of all.
Dear Louie, How are you getting on, did not see much of you yesday. hope you enjoyed yourself. where be to this morning.

This one is Corporation Street, Birmingham, England, dated March 19th 1904. The back of the card  says: "How should you like to live here rather busy don't you think." I wonder what they would make of it today then? 

This one is sent by Poll to her sister Fan for her birthday July 13th 1913

Dear Fan,
Just a card to wish you every happiness, how old are you is it 21 or 22. Make haste & write. I intended sending you some roses, but the cold have kept them back,they are not out yet. Poll

Hang on Poll it's July and the colds holding them back!!

This is a favourite of mine and is dated Feb 1901 no message on the back just the address. "Sorry I could not come along tonight. This is the one you liked."

I have no idea of how many pin up girls I have but here are three and all from 1905. We have Miss Gertie Millar in her stunning dress and with a waist to die for. Followed by Marie Studholme looking very angelic indeed and lastly Miss Phyllis Dare sporting a rather fetching headress!

Well that was a pleasant little interlude but if you will excuse me I am off to see if I can find that poem. Let me know if you would like to see  more of my old postcards and I will look some out another day.

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