Monday, 30 June 2014

Vegan Cashew Nut Pesto

I love Pesto and just fancied a bowl of spaghetti pesto last week, but when I went to buy Pine Nuts in Morrisons they were all out!  Apparently they haven't had any for ages for some strange reason.

So, it was a choice between having something different, or adapting the dish.  Seen as I already had the basil in my basket, I decided to adapt and make it with Cashew Nuts instead.  If you fancy having a go, the recipe is below  :)

You will need:

  • Cashew Nuts  (not salted, just plain ones)
  • Fresh Basil
  • Sun Dried Tomatoes (in a jar)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

... and something to smash it all up with  - could be a food processor, a pestal & mortar, or even a Smoothie maker  ;)

    What you do:
    • Rip the basil leaves up by hand and pop them in the chosen receptacle.

    (Ooooo, let's go for an arty view  :)  )

    • Chuck in a handful of cashew nuts.

    • Chop up the sun-dried tomatoes and chuck them in too.  (I used about 6 pieces)

    • Add a glug of olive oil  (tablespoon ish)

    • BLITZ !

    And there you go, could it get any easier than that?  Home made, wholesome, tasty pesto.  

    Sunday, 29 June 2014

    Art In The Pen

    I had a great day out this afternoon, there was an art event on in Carlisle called "Art In The Pen".   It was held in a local auction mart - hence the 'pens' and featured crafters and artists from all over the place.  The event has been running in Skipton, Yorkshire, for 9 years now, and this year they brought it to Carlisle, hopefully it will be the first year of many.

    Let me share the day with you, be prepared to drool a little  :)  And do go off and visit the artists own sites by clicking on the blue links throughout the blog.

    In no particular order....

    Katie Hampson - Fine Art & Illustration -

    I was taken with Katie's Cow pictures, aren't they just marvellous?

    So much colour and characture.


    Check out this guys work - His name is Michael McManus and he is very talented.  He creates the most amazing wood sculpture - from a moon gazing Hare to giant, football sized, conkers made from the Chestnut tree.

    The conkers invited you to have a hold, of course, I had to - it would have been rude not to  :)

    You can find Michael at


    I had to buy myself a card off this next stall, as I was so intrigued by the wonderful images - they are all microscope photographs.  The artist is Neil Taylor and he works under the name of SciArtImages and he adds his photos to vanity mirrors, jewellery, mugs etc...  You can find him on Facebook.

    I bought myself a photo of the cross section of a lily stem.  Most unusual it is and it will look great on my craft room wall along with other pieces of art I have.


    When I saw these knitted blackbirds on Alison Young's stall I just had to stop and have a chat with her.  Are they not just the cutest things?

    Alison makes a lot of lovely jewellery, but I have to say, it was her knitted bits that caught my eye and I missed getting any jewellery photos.  But if you want to go see them for yourself you can find her at


    I didn't get to see the chap that made these seahorses as it seemed to be a co-operative stand, but I managed to pick up a card. I love them!

    The sculptor is Roger Burnhams and you can find him over on

    Also, on the same stall was this amazing stained glass 3D mannequin.  It was lit from inside and truly stunning.

    So sorry I cannot credit the maker as there was no cards available with this piece, but presumably someone over on the Cumbria Sculptors website might know.


    Next is STIG - Industrial Art Furniture, by Bob Campbell.

    Chairs made from chains, tables made from massive bike chains and cogs..

    And a pig made from pennies.

    Yeah, really.... pennies.

    Do take a little time to go and check out his website, as he has some lovely stuff on there.


    I stopped to have a little chat with a lovely lady called Helen Russell - find her website at - go have a look for her 'blob cushion', I was so tempted  :)

    Her little chubby robins and penguins are just too cute.


    Another ceramic artist I spoke to was Kath Bonson.  Kath's pieces are actual photos screen-printed onto clay, then colours and textures added, and they are pretty amazing, let me tell you.

    This next one was on a rotating pedestal so you could see it in all it's glory.

    You can find more of Kath's work on her website -


    Back to the art, and someone who I have blogged about before, as I have four pieces of her work already - its Maddie Poynter, aka Madarts.

    Wow, she had been very busy getting ready for this show as she had a fabulous collection of her quirky art.

    I even saw a guy on the way home carrying a piece under his arm!


    A nice bit of textile next, with some quilted embroidery and other stitched pieces.  This is the work of Sue Lancaster a textile artist from Sheffield.

    We talked about how Sue dyed her fabrics with tea, red wine and rust.  Wine?   Apparently it wasn't a nice wine, so that's ok then  :)

    You really need to see this work up close to appreciate all the time and effort that must go into it.  You can find Sue's website at


    And, last, but certainly not least, let me leave you with this artists work.  I am sure it will put a smile on your face.  The artist's name is David Brightmore and his work is certainly bright.

    You really need to be there to get just how bright and beautiful these pieces are - enough to brighten anyone's day.  You can see loads more of his work at

    Well, I hope you enjoyed my afternoon out as much as I did.  The artists I have shown you is just a fraction of the ones that were there, so maybe next year you will pop along and support this event and wonderful artists, a lot of who are local   :)

    Saturday, 28 June 2014

    Scrappy Denim Dog Toy

    You remember I was cutting the legs off jeans this week to make shorts for my daughter?  Well Ruby the Puppy decided to keep running away with the bits of legs that I had removed, so I put down what I was busy with and decided to make her a toy.

    Introducing 'Scrappy' - great name huh?   ;)

    So, what did I do?   Well, first I took a plastic sauce bottle out of my recyling bin - washed it again to make sure it was spotlessly clean.

    Then popped some dog treats inside to make it rattle.   I wanted something to make a noise within the toy, and used dog treats as at least I know they are digestible in the chance that she gets into it.

    Screwed the lid on tight and gave it a shake to check it was noisy enough  :)

    Then I took the piece that once was the bottom of a pair of jeans.

    Decided that it would fit the bottle in this way, but if you are making one fit it in anyway it will go.

    I TRIPLE sewed a line up the 1/3rd mark of the denim, so hopefully it will be a nice strong seam.

    Then I slid the bottle in and triple sewed another line to keep in in place.

    Next I sliced up the edges to make ribbons of denim.

    Some of the ribbons I plaited and sewed the ends to make them hard to undo.  I left the little tag in place as Ruby seems to like chewing tags.

    And other ribbons I knotted with very tight knots.

    Yeah.... she likes it.  All the blooming toys we have bought her and this is now a firm favourite.  Maybe because it smells of her humans.

    She even takes her naps with it beside her.

    Would you like a little video of her playing with Scrappy?  Yeah, thought you might  ;)

    Now, I must add a disclaimer.  I would never leave my dog alone with this, even though I don't expect anything is too harmful, I don't fancy paying a large Vet bill for bits of plastic that have got stuck in her little gut!