Friday, 29 January 2010

More sweets..

Another one of the sweets I made at Christmas was Tiffin, which can be made in different ways. The recipe I use regularly is one which my sister-in-law gave me years ago when she first introduced me to it. I now have little additions and tweaks of my own that I sometimes use also.

It is very more-ish and usually a hit with anyone who likes chocolate - although there are nuts in it too, so probably not very popular with those that suffer from allergies to nuts! You could alter the recipe slightly to suit, however.

Here's the recipe for this delicious sweet:



1/2lb (8 oz) Digestive biscuits (or any plain biscuits)
1 Tbsp Caster sugar
1 Tbsp Drinking Chocolate or cocoa powder
1 Tbsp (or more, if preferred - I often add more of this) Golden Syrup.
1/4lb (4oz) Margarine
6-8oz Cake Chocolate (the more the better, it's nice to have a thick layer of choc on the top!
4-6oz each of Glace cherries and walnuts.


  • Crush the biscuits inside a large food bag, using a rolling pin the make them almost the size of bread-crumbs. You can leave larger bits in if you like, it just makes the mixture stick together easier if the biscuits are finely crushed.
  • Chop the glace cherries and walnuts into tiny pieces - again this is up to you, but I prefer to chop them very small so that I can cut through the tiffin easier when it is set.
  • In a saucepan, melt the golden syrup, margarine and sugar to create a runny sauce consistency. I have also added a few drops of vanilla essence at this point as a variation, or some runny honey.
  • Add the cocoa powder, crushed biscuits, cherries and walnuts to the pan and mix well. Press the mixture into a greased tin or one lined with parchment paper. ( I usually use a lasagne dish for this, too!)
  • Melt the chocolate either in the microwave according to the manufacturer's instructions, or slowly in a pyrex bowl over a pan of boiling water. Once it is melted, pour the chocolate over the top of the tiffin mixture, spread evenly and refrigerate until set.
  • Cut into small, bit-sized squares and eat!

Home made sweets

I thought I would share some of my home-made sweets with you - not literally, unfortunately, since that would be rather difficult unless you lived nearby and popped in for a cuppa one day!

I made a selection of sweets for Christmas presents this year (2009 actually, so technically last year!) and gave them to my immediate family members in the cute little gift boxes pictured here. I bought the gift boxes flat-packed from Ebay and they are useful for anything that is difficult to wrap in the conventional way, so I will no doubt be going back for more soon!

I thought you might like to see the recipe for these tasty treats, too, so have included them here just in case.

The recipe for White Chocolate & Cranberry Fudge was taken from a free leaflet that came with the shopping one week from Tesco, and it was the first time I'd made it, but it was a huge success so I will be doing more throughout the year as birthday gifts for people.

White Chocolate & Cranberry Fudge

350g (12oz) granulated sugar
25g (1oz) unsalted butter
175ml (6fl oz) can evaporated milk
100g (31/2oz) dried sweetened cranberries
300g (10oz) white chocolate, chopped.


  • Cut a piece of baking parchment large enough to line a 1kg (2lb) loaf tin. (I used a rectangular shaped lasagne dish, which worked just as well!)
  • Put the sugar, butter and evaporated milk in a large heavy based pan. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved completely.
  • Bring to the boil, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. It is a good idea to set a timer for this.
  • Immediately remove from the heat then add the cranberries and chocolate
  • Allow the chocolate to melt (the smaller the pieces, the quicker it will melt) then quickly stir the mixture and pour straight into the tin/dish. It will thicken immediately.
  • Spread into the tin/dish (I used a silicone spatula for this) and chill for an hour or so until firm. Cut into squares.

I then placed small squares of parchment paper in between layers of the fudge in these little boxes:

These would also make a lovely gift for your loved one on Valentine's Day! (or you could pretend they are for your loved one and help with the eating of them yourself!

Mini Art - latest works

I have been working on 4 new mini art works recently, all of which have been uploaded to my Etsy shop, but here's a snapshot of the latest one, along with the matching trinket box I have also decorated. They go well together but are listed separately in case anyone just fancies buying a miniature work of art on its own, or a trinket box as a gift.

This paritcular creation is called Celadonia.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Latest painting uploaded to the web...

I have recently decided to upload one my most recent large paintings to the Rogue Gene Gallery - I will probably add it to my other websites later today, but here's a sneak preview of the painting anyway:

The Affordable British Art Gallery: Artist of the Week - Helen Davison

The Affordable British Art Gallery: Artist of the Week - Helen Davison

I am the featured artist of the week on this great website, which usually brings more exposure to my work, so I am very pleased to have been featured!

Saturday, 23 January 2010

That'll Be The Day - Concert

Last night we went to the Hull New Theatre as part of my husband's birthday gift - I'd got tickets to see a musical show called "That'll Be The Day" which promised to be a combination of nostalgic rock & roll numbers and some great comedy. We had a meal in the theatre cafe prior to the show commencing at 7.30, which made the evening just a bit nicer, somehow!

The show has now been running for 25 years and is a really popular show with many people watching it over and over again. I don't think we will be watching it again - it's well performed and did make us laugh, but not enough to want to go again. The thing that neither of us really likes is "audience participation" and, even though it wasn't mandatory, when the rest of the audience stand up when told to, you feel like you must, too! To be fair, most people were loving it, waving their arms from side to side, jiving in the aisles etc, but I would just rather sit in my seat and enjoy it, so that's what we ended up doing. Some might think we are miserable for doing so, I would just rather make my own mind up about such things!

I have to admit to crying at one point, however - simply because the Buddy Holly song "True Love Ways" always sets me off on an emotional journey back in time. My uncle used to play this on his guitar and sing it, and he died in 1990 whilst living with our family.

There were several impersonations and "TV clips" from bygone years played on the screen at the rear of the stage in between the costume changes - all were very good. I loved some of the women's costumes!

The show didn't finish until 10.30pm and I would recommend it to anyone who likes 50s/60s and early 70s rock and roll.

They have only just started their tour season for this year, but all the dates can be found on their web-site: That'll Be The Day

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Random thoughts and activities

The past couple of days I have been progressing with some more of my recent mini canvas and easel paintings, which I am also matching with some of my painted/decorated trinket boxes. Hopefully by the end of today I will be able to upload 3 more images of these.

They will be on sale via my Etsy store as soon as I have completed all three:ArtyAitch

One of my Christmas gifts was a set of paint tube squeezing keys - you can buy them in the UK from "The Works" in a pack of 10 for only 99pence: Tube Squeezers

I have been going through my box(es) of paints to utilise these keys, and in doing so decided to paint a sample of each particular colour I have in my store! I have so far done yellow, green and blue. This will help me enormously when I am trying to decide which particular brand of paint I used for an area of colour on a painting if I leave it for a while and come back to it (which tends to happen regularly as I rotate my paintings constantly).

Changing topic completely now, I went to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie last weekend with my brother and husband. It was thoroughly entertaining, well acted and cleverly directed. Robert Downey Jr. was an amusing yet charming Sherlock Holmes and he worked extremely well alongside Jude Law's Dr Watson. I really, really enjoyed it - there were, to be fair, an abundance of fight scenes which i really didn't expect from Sherlock Holmes (and which I normally am averse to)but they were all executed with great panache. I particularly loved the way in which Sherlock's thought process of how to deliver the blows each time was shown to us prior to the actual delivery. Even if you are not interested in Sherlock Holmes, this film is worth watching purely for the relationship on screen between Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr.

More painting is now on the agenda.....

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

First painting of the year

My first painting of the year was a surprise birthday gift for my sister - a portrait of my niece, Charlotte. I hinted at this project in my earlier blog post but couldn't be specific about it in case my sister read the blog! The painting of Charlotte was based on a photograph I took when the family were here for a meal on New Year's Day - so she is seated in her high chair. I used acrylic, which I favour over watercolour, and completed the painting in approximately 10 or 12 days. On a box canvas, sized 20 x 25cm, I was rather pleased that my sister liked the end result!

Charlotte is 7 months old and really starting to take an interest in the world around her now.

The reference photo I used had a very dark background and a green tablecloth. I changed the background to a colour I thought Rachel (my sister) would like, and the tablecloth colour I altered to a deep red. I think I could have spent even longer fiddling with the painting, as perfection takes forever, but in the end I decided to leave well alone and all in all I am fairly happy with the finished piece of art.

Here's the reference photo I used:

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

SAA PA News article

Today I received a copy of the SAA (Society for All Artists) PA News, which ran an article on the collaboration project that myself and other members of the Rogue Gene Collective have participated in since we formed.

Fellow RGC member and friend, Andrea Farmer, initially contacted the SAA in order to promote interest in the project.

The article was originally intended to be featured in the SAA "Paint" magazine, which goes out to all members of the SAA. However, it is a well- written article which I can at least share on here thanks to my artist friend, Jane Duke who kindly sent me her copy!

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Painting and crosswords

I have spent another day indoors due to this awful weather. I don't really care whether or not it looks pretty out there any more - I am quite fed up of it now. Snow is nice to look at but not so nice to get about in - I tend to walk like an old woman when I have to go out in snow or in icy conditions - each step takes forever and I walk along walls which I hold on to in case I slip!

Driving is out of the question. I am in a permanent state of anxiety about skidding and therefore feel a danger not only to myself, but any other drivers out there, too. From what I've heard over the past 24hours, every journey in a car is taking approximately 5 to 6 times longer than normal due to black ice on the roads and everyone having to drive so slowly! I am thankful that I do not have to go out to work. We have cancelled our usual rehearsals with the Junior and Youth sections at Bilton Amateur Dramatic Society this coming week - only hope the weather improves and we can start again before too long!

Anyway, I have spent the day working on a painting that is, at present, a bit of a secret project. I am doing my best to make it a perfect painting as it will be judged not only on its merit but on the content when it is finished. It may sound mysterious, but all will be revealed in a week or so. I have spent several hours on it during the past couple of days, and will continue to do so until I am completely happy with it. I can tell you that it is an acrylic painting on box canvas, but no more than that for fear of spoiling the secret!

I have been giving my brain a bit of a work-out today, too, with the crossword in "The Week" magazine. This is the only newspaper we get, and it is ideal as it is in the form of a magazine on a weekly basis, covering the main news and events from all the other daily newspapers combined but in a condensed format. The crossword is a cryptic one. Usually Keith (my husband) and I do the crossword together, taking it in turns to solve the clues until one of us gets stuck or bored. I was up earlier than him today so I had the first shot at it.

I read a great article on a fellow artist's blog today, too. It had some great advice about promoting yourself as an artist. If I can find out how to link to it, I will do so, then you can share the advice if you're interested. Oh, I think if you click on this, it will work:

Well, it's nearly time to do my daily (almost, I've only missed one this week) exercises on my Wii Fit Plus - the good thing about this regime is that it's fun to do as well as keeping me fit. I try to do at least half an hour each day, sometimes up to an hour.

I may write more on here later - I can see me using this as a diary of sorts, but I may get fed up of that, so we'll see!

Friday, 8 January 2010

First post testing!

Thought I'd start the new year with a new thing to try - my own blog. I really don't know how effective this will be either as an interesting piece of information to anyone other than myself or as a regular activity.

Initially I will be blogging about my work, my paintings and craft-related items that I create and sell through various outlets on the internet and in galleries.

Let's just see how it goes eh?

The image here is of one of my new series of artworks/craftcreations. I have co-ordinated a set of mini canvases and easels with some trinket boxes I'd already decorated. They are both for sale on Etsy and can be viewed here: