Thursday, 23 July 2015

cold brewed coffee...


Doesn't look like much, does it? Or indeed particularly appetising, despite my attempt to make it look pretty with a pot of geraniums, but bear with me.

I love coffee, but I'm lazy. It's too expensive to use pods for the coffee machine, too laborious to make it using an espresso maker and filter and drip coffee just makes bad tasting, weak ass coffee in my opinion, so I drink instant. Which is sacrilege in itself if you actually do enjoy coffee.

I'm also really bad at actually remembering to drink the mug of coffee I've made. At uni, I would make a mug, go to a lecture without drinking it and drink it cold when I came back. I do the same at work, getting caught up in putting jobs together or with phoning. Plus, seeing it's the basement and up until a few weeks ago I still had the heating on in the lab, it was always stone cold when I come to drink my mug anyway. It's lucky really that I really like cold coffee.

So after seeing it pop up in my Pinterest feed on repeated occasions - and figuring it if you can't beat it, you're better joining - I decided to try and make cold brew coffee using a recipe from Gimme Some Oven and it's so beautifully simple.


Ingredients:
1 cup Ground Coffee (approximately 85 grams)
4 cups/1 litre Cold Water

Method:
1. Stir together coffee grounds and water into a large, seal-able container.
2. Place in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours.
3. Strain coffee through a very fine strainer, muslin cloth or coffee filter into a clean container.
4. Pour into a bottle which can hold approximately 1 litre, and store in the fridge.


Essentially you're making a coffee concentrate, which you can then dilute to however you like it best. For me it's milk and sugar because that's how I would drink hot coffee, however I can get away with less sweetness when it's cold. In general go for 1:2 ratio using a 1/3 cup as a measure:


Remember, if you like it sweet, the sugar will take longer to dissolve in the cold liquid so, either you can put it in a jar and shake it up* to speed it up. Or use honey. Or if you're feeling like you feel a little decadent and want to make it flavoured coffee, use something like Monin's Caramel Syrup. It will probably still have fewer calories in it than the mainstream mainstays frozen coffee drinks.

It's also cheaper. For every litre in an average brew, I can have approximately 12 cups of coffee and for every bag of coffee, of which a measuring cup is a third of the bag, I get 36 cups with very little effort and cheaper than instant coffee... it also tastes a million times better!

Seriously, if you like cold coffee, try it, because it's easier than making instant and definitely less hit or miss flavour wise. You get your caffeine fix, it's not as bitter, less acidic so hopefully no coffee related heartburn (or burns in general) and again, it's throwing coffee grounds in a bowl with water, leaving them overnight and straining, if that's too difficult then step away from the coffee and find a barista!


* "I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, I shake it off, I shake it off... I, I shake it off, I shake it off..." That's Taylor Swift and variety of parody's stuck in my head for the remainder of the night, if not the week. 

Link | Cold Brew Coffee from Gimme Some Oven
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Listening: Shake It Off - Taylor Swift

Sunday, 19 July 2015

musical interlude: "search party"



"And as long as you wanna be courageous Promise you we're gonna see some changes"
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Listening: Search Party - George The Poet

musical interlude: "violent shiver"



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Listening: Violent Shiver - Benjamin Brooker

musical interlude: "call me"



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Listening: Call Me - St. Paul & the Broken  Bones

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

should a teddy have a tail?


So, this is about all I've been up too making wise recently*. I decided to try and make a teddy bear.

My favourite is the little bow tie bear, which was the last one I made, which is probably why. No hedgehog shaped head like the first one (he had no snout and very far back ears!) and no busting seams like the second one when I changed stitches, but stitched a little too close to the edges.

Ironically the only bit I didn't hand sew was his bow tie, which for some reason I took a notion to use a 1950's hand cranked kids sewing machine, called a Vulcan Junior. Why do I have this? Not a clue, I think it was my mum's when she was kid, or at least it's from someone on her side of the family, and it's been sitting at the back of one of my shelves for years. Real question is, why did I choose to use it? Truth? Sewing up the bears is actually easier by hand, but I hate having to lug out the proper sewing machine, it's heavy and involves too much set up for a two inch piece of sewing on flimsy fabric. 

I've been looking at little, very basic sewing machines, to do quick simple bits and bobs (hemming mini bow ties etc) but I'm havering over something tiny that basically just does straight stitch or a slightly bigger one which does a few more stitches. Though, the novelty of using the toy sewing machine was enjoyable, the actual using of it was... well, it needs a good service. There's thread wrapped where it shouldn't be, it needs an oil and some rusty bits dealt with, but it was still quicker than hand stitching!

Question is, should a teddy bear have a tail or not? 

Bears have tails, but not all teddies do. Are teddy makers intentionally docking the tails off teddy bears? 


"What are you making at the moment?" I get asked that question a lot. By people at work (both colleagues and patients who know who I am and my background), by my grandparents, by my family if they see me with any form of fabric, needle, design book or tool in my hand. Sometimes I'm not making anything and sometimes I'm making something but I don't really want to show it in case it goes wrong. I don't always like to talk about what I'm making because it also gets the "why are you doing it" part of my brain active. That part isn't always a beneficial conversationalist.

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Listening: King - Years and Years

Thursday, 18 June 2015

birthday



Yeah... so that happened about two weeks ago... let's just bypass it and start enjoying some music from the past thirty years of my life.

Hopefully in some kind of chronological order, please enjoy my I turned 30 and all I get is this lousy playlist, with lots of stuff I liked, loved and listened too between 1985 to 2015*, and yep, I will keep adding to it, because actually, it's become one of my go too playlists!



* I am negating my Boyzone, Eternal, Spicegirls phase. Though a advert currently on British TV has made me remember how much I love East17 as a kid and the anniversary episode of TFI has reminded me of a tonne of music I loved and why I love TFI! Sod Top Gear, Evans, bring back TFI!

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Listening: Loser - Beck

paper architects


The Paper Architect, Alchimie de Courvoisier, The Hunter and Theatre Book - Macbeth, all hand crafted by Bristol based husband and wife duo, Davy and Kristin McGuire. All of which are beautifully delicate, and emotional paper dioramas, made as theatrical installations which are brought to life with projected movements.

The Paper Architect, is my particular favourite. In a mixture of papercut sculpture, projections and live action, it tells the story of an lonely elderly man (play by John Cording) who is about to be evicted from his studio workshop, and whilst spending a few final hours with his work, contemplates how life could have turned out differently. It's a melancholy story most people can probably empathies with.

Whether it's an installation, or a pop up book, beautifully illuminated and animated, the couples work is just magical.

All I'm going to say is, ugh!

Also, that I feel gypped. We never got to do dioramas at school, I would have LOVED to do dioramas at school! I'd love to do dioramas now! Then again, that's kind of what I do at work isn't it? Oversized dioramas. Though not actually for work... my work involves more ordering things on the computer, and fitting lenses into frames... ugh, my job sucks, I want to be them!


Link | Davy and Kristin McGuire
Link | Davy and Kristin McGuire on Vimeo
Link | Beautiful Papercraft Installations Brought To Life [...] by Davy and Kristin McGuire via Laughing Squid
Link | The Paper Architect by Davy and Kristin McGuire photographed by India Roper-Evans

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Listening: Search Party - Ghost Poet

Sunday, 14 June 2015

pop culture pencils

There's nothing better than a good pencil. Sounds stupid, but a bad pencil, can be a horrible and irritating object to use. Scratchy leads that you can feel juddering across the page and ones that have broken down the entire length of the pencil and continuously snap as you're sharpening them... a lot of pencils are truly horrible. I could show you... there's a lot of cheap HB's* festering in my pencil pot alongside the better quality H to B drawing pencils I collected during uni, and the bendy** pencils I recently bought on a nostalgia trip.

Honestly, I'm a pen girl, for both writing and drawing and always in black ink. So I rarely use pencils these days, unless it's either handy or for preparatory sketching. But I remember kids in school with their names printed on their pencils. Where they were getting these mysteriously personalised pencils from, before the days of internet shopping, is beyond me, but you'd trump them with these telly inspired beauties.

Sarah Graham, founder of the Glasgow based La La Land and creator of Pop Culture Pencils, hand-stamps each of her pencils. Emblazoning them, not with kids names - though seeing you can have a thirty character long custom set made for a little extra money, your name is not a lost concept - instead, the length of the pencil is stamped and foiled with quotes and catchphrases from your favourite telly shows and films. These include, The Might Boosh "Stop tugging me mink!"; Community "Cool, cool cool cool"; The Thick Of It, "Come the fuck in or fuck the fuck off" and a new addition, from Adventure Time "Oh My Glob!". Along with many others from a lot of the shows I watch and films I love.

La La Land is also the originator of the Celebrity Wife Pencil Set, so your pencils can pledge your love as Mrs Benedict Cumberbatch; Mrs Ryan Gosling; Mrs Jamie Dornan or Mrs Alexander Skarsgard.

Not sure I'm going to buy those ones, but my lovely sisters bought me the IT Crowd set for Christmas. They're still in the Pop Culture packaging and I have a look at them every time "I'm in an ethical pickle."  Pretty sure there will be a few more sets in my pen pot in the future and I hope they're in yours too.


* Pencils are graded H to B, as I'm sure you know, H standing for Hardness and B Blackness. Ranging in most brands from 9H to 9B with HB, your traditional school writing pencil, almost slap bang in the middle. 9H being the hardest and resulting in very light markings, 9B being softest and giving the darkest markings. There is one aberration to this grading system, F, which sits between HB and H and while it mythically represents Fineness, there's conflicted opinions on whether it sharpens any finer than those which flank it.

** BIC Evolutions are recycled wood free pencils which when I was a kid, I loved because they were bendy, they sharpened nicely and were a nice aqua colour. I was easily swayed by anything that wasn't your traditional black and yellow or black and red stripe.


Link | Pop Culture Pencils on La La Land
Link | Pop Culture Pencils on Etsy
Link | La La Land Blog
Link | What Would Buffy Do? Pencil Set from Pop Culture Pencils on La La Land
Link | Princess Bride Pencil Set from Pop Culture Pencils on La La Land
Link | Muppet Christmas Carol: Rizzo The Rat Pencil Set from Pop Culture Pencils on La La Land
Link | Adventure Time: Oh My Glob Pencil Set from Pop Culture Pencils on La La Land
Link | Malcolm Tucker The Thick of It Pencil Set from Pop Culture Pencils on La La Land
Link | The Mighty Boosh Pencil Set from Pop Culture Pencils on La La Land
Link | Community Pencil Set from Pop Culture Pencils on La La Land
Link | The IT Crowd Pencil Set from Pop Culture Pencils on La La Land
Link | Spaced Pencil Set from Pop Culture Pencils on La La Land
Link | Parks and Recreation Pencil Set from Pop Culture Pencils on La La Land

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Listening: The Riverboat Song - Ocean Colour Scene

Sunday, 7 June 2015

tea stained

I like cups, all sorts, but generally the one at home are white inside. Down side is, I don't like tea stains, they make things look grubby even when you know they're clean. Luckily, I find something satisfying about getting rid of them, despite my hatred of bleach.

Designer Bethan Laura Wood, may actually change my mind on the horror of tea stains. Her series of ceramic teacups entitled, "Stain", is centred around the development of the product once in use and the decorative pattern actually improving as cup after cup of tea is brewed and the inevitable stains begin to build on its surface. The project is intended to challenge the assumption that use is damaging the object.

The surface of the bone china is treated in such a way that initially invisible patterns begin to become more vivid as they are constantly filled. However the way in which the pattern develops, the saturation of the colour and particular areas of concentration, depends on the drinking habits of the particular tea jenny making the brew.

Anything to get away from an extra cleaning job. Such a good idea.



Link | Wood London "Stain" by Bethan Laura Wood
Link | Wood London "Stain 2014 | Flock" by Bethan Laura Wood
Link | Spot Cup by Bethan Laura Wood from L’ArcoBaleno


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Listening: Emily's Pine - The Bluetones

musical interlude: "devil town"

For a few years, my sisters have been trying to convince me to watch Friday Night Lights, and for years I've not watched it, partly because I just wasn't in the mood for it, partly because I don't particularly enjoy sports movie/television and partly to annoy them. But, we began watching an episode a night a few of months ago, and we're now about to finish it completely and I am actually kicking myself for not watching it sooner, because it's amazing. I give it two very enthusiastic thumbs up.

If you don't know it, Friday Night Lights is about high school football, the obsessive nature of the game and the importance one town in Texas, places on it. Initially it was a book, Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream (1990) by H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger, a piece of non-fiction about the 1988 Permian High School Panthers football team from Odessa, Texas. No names were changed and to the author, it was a piece of journalism, then in 2004, the book was made into a film, Friday Night Lights, starring Billy-Bob Thornton, which followed the Odessa Panthers through the 1988 season - I can't really say more than that, because I've still not actually watched it.

Two years later, in 2006, it was adapted for television by Peter Berg for NBC, brought into present day and made to exist within the fictional town of Dillon, Texas. The heart of the five series is Coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler), his relationships with his wife Tami (Connie Briton) and daughter Julie (Aimee Teegarden); the football players he coaches and the strains and stresses which come from trying to succeed in the whole towns dream of football success.

Four of the best reasons to watch it:

1) Coach, and his beautiful mixture of surliness and compassion.
2) WWTRD: What Would Tim Riggins Do? Drink it, shag it or fight it, probably. Tim (Taylor Kitsch) is made out to be a fuck up, but a loveable one. In Riggins we trust! (Maybe not in his brother Billy though.)
3) Poor Matt Saracen - which is chorused nearly every episode. Matt (Zach Gilford) is a lovely, sweet guy and if it can go wrong, it will.

4) Tami Taylor, y'all. Chandler and Briton make a really believable couple throughout and enviable during their best moments. Plus don't mess with Mrs Coach! Y'all got that?
Now for the music, W G Snuffy Walden, who scored The West Wing also responsible for Friday Night Lights, but with popular music interspersed, including this cover of Daniel Johnston's song, "Devil Town". This version by Tony Lucca, was commissioned by the show, after they were unable to secure the right of the Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes) version. It has been used a few times during the five series and the first time it played there was a scramble for a google machine to find out who the song was by, and it's now stuck firmly in my head.

Oh, and I may get stick off my sisters for using possibly the girliest/hipster incarnation of Coaches motto "Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose," as I could find, but at least it's spelt correctly, unlike on the menu of every disc from seasons four and five we've watched.


Link | Clear Eyes Full Hearts Can't Lose Print by Peinthesky on Etsy
Link | Friday Night Lights on IMBd
Link | Friday Night Lights on Wikipedia

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Listening: Devil Town - Tony Lucca
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