Thursday, 26 November 2015

Taste, the infographic book of food!

If I had to give an award for the cutest book of the year this title by food writer and author Laura Rowe would take the prize! But it's not just about the cute, it's actually quite beautiful, stylish and informative too. And the Illustrations by Vicki Turner are simply delicious!

But you know... it's not all about the looks, it's also an exciting exploration into the complex and colourful world of food!
You see, I actually love knowing about the inspiration and origins behind certain foods and recipes so I literally didn't put down this book until I read it cover to cover!

Taste, The Infographic Book of Food is not just for the eyes but also a feast for the belly as it's packed with recipes and tasty food facts!
I also found it to be a really emotive book as I got the sense that the author is genuinely passionate about the subject.

*If you'd like to know more about the author, she is also the editor of Olive magazine:

Packed with amazing facts and tips including a simple how to roll sushi tutorial this book also offers  readers weird and wonderful food factoids, great recipes plus a very handy weights and measurement conversion chart.
There's even a few cocktail recipes that'll get your party guests talking, a guide to Fizz, a comprehensible table setting layout and a seasonal eating calendar. And can I just say that I am quite excited about finding what flavours and notes I can find in a glass of Champers! Ha, any excuse, right?!

Published by Aurum Press "Taste, The Infographic Book of Food" is a book I'm sure most foodies will love but it will also delight art lovers and the knowledge hungry gourmands!!!
Historians, chefs and the curious will definitely love this title and consuming it in its entirety will be a joyful snack rather then a heavy laborious meal... and I can bet you'll be back for more,
just like those repeat visits to that cookie jar in search of yummy bite sized literary tidbits.

I found myself totally immersed and whilst in the middle of cooking my dinner I couldn't help but to reach for my copy -again!- just to check what it said about my chosen ingredients. This gave me immense pleasure learning about beets and courgettes but I also lingered a bit too long so I managed a slightly burnt pot too...
Hum, I never knew Beetroot had a wild sea variety which you can still find on many European coastlines. Next time I'm down the coast I shall have a good old forage!

But it's not merely a facts and figures book nor a collection of recipe index cards thrown together, each section is divided nicely and neatly into easy to find chapters which veer into different food related tangents.
Some of these are:
From the plot, Off the farm to Any other business which covers - as the chapter title aptly describes- all other food related stuff like an explanation of the five taste groups and a knife guide.
So no more muddling your fish knife with your steak knife!

So if you love food, pie charts and graphs all gorgeously illustrated, a sprinkling of history, info packed factoids plus a recipe or two thrown in for good measure then this book is perfect for you! It truly is a tasteful title, you could say it's the modern food bible for stylish food lovers. Bon appetit!

I'm keeping my copy close...

Order Taste at a special price available only to our blog readers: 
 The Infographic Book of Food at the discounted price of £16 including p&p* (RRP: £20), telephone 01903 828503 or email and quote the offer code APG392. 
*UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas. 

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Cinnamon biscuits? Hell yes!!!

Cinnamon  has to be one of my favourite spices... Warm, slightly bitter and deep... like a nervous "making-up" hug when you knew you were in the right but had to swallow your pride because you love them!
I've been baking and tinkering in the kitchen since I was a little girl. At the age of 10 I was given my favourite toy, a Betty Crocker Easy Bake Oven.

Yes thanks Betty, it was easy but also darn dangerous! The amount of times I burnt my arms removing the red hot cake tins from the oven are way too many to mention but hey, that was the 1980's so toy safety was a little bit different then but what it did was ignite my passion for baking!

The scars quickly healed but what baking gave me in return was worth every blister and burn!!!
You see baking always has a positive affect on my mood. So however down I feel taking time out to produce something sweet seems to put the world in order and my problems in perspective...
Baking can save us a whole lot of heartache plus the bonus is that you get to eat your way back to happy!

Having just returned from mum and dad's in the Algarve I thought it would be nice to share with you guys a great fuss free recipe of something I always crave when I go there on holiday.
So here's my version of the traditional Portuguese cinnamon biscuit which are more a mixture of cake and biscuit rather then a pure biscuit... they sit quite deliciously and contently between the two worlds.

I've added cardamon to add a Scandi flavour to them but for purists remove the cardamon from the recipe. You can also use butter for a richer biscuit but as I'm trying to go vegan I opted to use soya marg instead and it works pretty well. The result is a lighter, airier biscuit but still packed with tasty flavours!

1 sachet of vanilla sugar or vanilla essence to taste

1 tsp of powdered cardamon
100g Sugar
110g room temp margarine
300 self-rising flour (or 300g of plain flour and 3 level tsp of baking powder)
Enough cinnamon to roll biscuits in

(makes about 20/24)

1. In a bowl mix the egg, sugars, cardamon, margarine and flour until you get a homogeneous dough. Don't overwork or the biscuits will be quite hard. You can use a food processor for this but I found it just as easy with a wooden spoon.

2. Cover and chill for about 30 minutes.

3. Roll into small balls -about the size of a chestnut. Dust a small plate with enough cinnamon and roll your biscuits in cinnamon until completely covered.

4. Place cinnamon balls on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, leaving some space between them as they will double in size if not more.

5. Bake in the oven at 180 ° C for 20 minutes.

Remove with the aid of a spatula and leave to cool on a wire rack.

These biscuits go really well with a cup of tea, chai or coffee! Personally I love them with a strong dark espresso... but I'll let you find your perfect beverage to go with these babies!

Monday, 26 October 2015

"Collage & Keep" A journal you create!

Collage has long been one of my favourite art forms. Because of its simplicity and scope it's something most people are able to do.
Arm yourself with a glue stick, a few images, magazines and some scissors and you're good to go!
This title by Eleanor Shakespeare ( and you ) from Quarto Publishing Group UK is a great way to start your journey into the world of cut out art!

Back in school I used to cover my note books with collage mainly depictions of my deities and idols which were the likes of Nina Hagen, Siouxie Sioux and Maria Callas. They seemed to be nestled among cascades of leopard print, flowers and skulls to remind myself that one day I'd be out of there school and on the stage where I belonged! Ha, it's not quite turned out that way but it's a great memory I keep in my mind of my teen aged self and of my then plans!

So this book "Collage and Keep" is a great companion for anyone who'd like to put their memories, momentos and dreams into paperback... look at it as a book of your life, a diary or a journal. Your very own memoir!!! And something you can pass down the generations too.

In an ever increasing digitalised world it's really nice to have something physical and real. It's a shame that we no longer keep photo albums (Yawn, everything is on our mobile phones now!) and I guess this book is just like a photo album but with the difference that you can add to it by way of an arty twist.

From a page that offers a  "collage your own portrait" to "collage yourself as a superhero" the accompanying illustrations are both cool and unusual which make a great background to your own creations. It also serves as a nice design guide for those who think they aren't creative.
*Which boo hiss  to you... everyone can be creative, it just takes a little self belief and we know you can do it!*

So go as intricate as you want or simply add your favourite photos as they are. This fun and quirky book is a great little time capsule where the subject is YOU!

To order a copy of Collage and Keep for the special offer price of £8, including free p&p in the UK, telephone 01903 828503 or email and quote the offer code APG379 with your name and address.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Make your mark with "Sharpie Art Workshop"!

If you're anything like me you'll probably find yourself doodling at any given moment.
Usually it happens when I'm on the phone, in meetings, on the tube and shamefully even when talking to friends face to face... but... it's something I really can't stop doing!

So when the opportunity arrived for me to review Sharpie Art Workshop I immediately dropped my pen and got very excited!
This book by artist, art director, designer and all round creative Timothy Goodman is a great way to get everyone making something!
You see Sharpies can be used on pretty much  most surfaces, from paper, canvas, fabric to even metal plus they come in a variety of colours! They are truly a very versatile and flexible tool for any budding artist.

Sharpie pens are also inexpensive which means you can be playful and flexible in your design ideas.  Because you haven't spent a fortune on materials and tools you can allow yourself to experiment, and personally I love that, but what it means is that you can allow yourself the freedom to not have to commit to a particular design because you've spent your future inheritance on paints!
Sharpie pens have long been favoured by designers from all fields for their clean, bold, dense lines which help create an instant and immediate graphic impact.

Funnily enough I've just started an artist's residency in a primary school where the theme is Pattern and this book has tons of it! I just wish I had seen this amazing book before I got the job as there are so many great projects my school kids would have loved exploring... Though I'm sure I can creep a few projects in, there's still time!

Sharpie Art Workshop by Quatro Publishing Group offers a fantastic variety of ideas and projects by leading world renown artists and graphic designers as well as a good number of exercises like mark making, pattern creation and tips on using sharpies on a variety of surfaces.
I really like the up to date bold graphic look of the book too (hum, I guess you could say that's pretty Sharpie-esque!)... so it's not just a great coffee table book it's also a book I'll be using again and again.
And as far as the coffee table reference goes I have to say that it's meant in a totally different sense then usual. Ha, you see my copy will be a coffee table book due to the fact it'll be living on the coffee table to be within easy reach of my busy hands!

To celebrate the launch of this great little book we're giving away one copy and a set of sharpies to one lucky reader, courtesy of Quatrobooks (UK only, sorry!).
Enter your details in the comment box below this post for your chance to win! Good Luck!
*A winner will be chosen at random on the 10th of October and will be contacted on the date or shortly thereafter. Unfortunately we will not be able to contact all entrants directly.

But if you're not feeling lucky this amazing book is available at a special discount just for you if you order with our blog reader code:

To order a copy of Sharpie Art Workshop for the special offer price of £12, including free p&p in the UK, telephone 01903 828503 or email and quote the offer code APG369 with your name and address.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Discover your craft with Quodo! is the place where you can get your craft on by linking leading artisans & artists with Londoners who want to rediscover their creativity outside of the office!
With summer wrapping up and the kids back at school it's the perfect time to get creative with some of London's brightest artists and artisans.

Quodo was founded in London in March 2015 with a mission to make the world more creative by allowing anyone to learn direct from local artisans and artists. ​
Bringing together 30 of London’s finest artisans and artists offering unique arts, crafts and cooking classes starting from just £20. 
Well that sounds like a winner to us and we're sure that as time goes on that they'll get bigger and better so we'll definitely keep our eyes on these guys!

Plus we're super chuffed to say that there's a class just down the road from us (Walthamstow) so we're definitely checking that out on the 26th of September!
If you'd like to join us at Daniel H's Wallpaper screen printing class then you lucky people can use the code below to get yourselves a £20 discount!

Daniel is a brother of the Artworkers' Guild and a published academic working in textiles so we really can't wait to learn from a master craftsman!

But if screen printing isn't your thing then fear not... there are other great classes from millinery, ceramics to healthy cooking so get on to the Quodo web site and start crafting your life a bit more interesting!

For further information, classes and what Quodo can offer you visit:
Daniel is a brother of the Artworkers’ Guild and is a published academic. - See more at:
Daniel is a brother of the Artworkers’ Guild and is a published academic. - See more at:

Friday, 4 September 2015

The Crafted Garden... a handy book for today's creative gardener!

There seems to be a craze for green fingered pursuits and plant potting at the moment and we can honestly say, hand on heart, that we've absolutely fallen for it too!
From Cacti potted in geometric concrete pots, macrame holders, terrariums to fresh flower crown wearing... The green stuff has us in a spin wanting to get our fingers into the damp earth and making again!
It's a natural romance and we're falling for this book head over heels!

"Stylish projects inspired by nature"
The Crafted Garden, published by Frances Lincoln offers us a lovely mix of projects and handy tips which will get you growing and making fun & crafty plant based objects ... which you can make for your home or even make as a gift for a friend!

Terrariums can be amazing and easy to look after... and it's a great way to recycle your jars!

There are over 50 projects and some great tips in this book which the author Louise Curley has included to ease and guide you into finding your inner crafty gardener.

Transforming foraged hedgerow jewels and garden finds into beautiful things is something of an art and Louise is happy to share with us her skills through some great step by step tutorials!
Easy step by step tutorial will help you create simple, beautiful objects for the home...
And it won't cost you a fortune! Most projects are easily achieved from bits and pieces from your very own garden and craft stash. 
Some things you might want/need to purchase but there's a really good section with suppliers details.
Personally I find there are quite a few on line groups which can be a great resource too so even if you're on a tight budget it shouldn't stop you. 

Lots of people use these social media pages and sites to post materials, items they no longer need or want so are happy to share, give away or sell for a small donation.
Try Face Book, local Free Cycle or S.O.S. (Sell or swap) groups. I've managed to find lots of gardening stuff from seedlings to ceramic pots!

Another thing I like about this book is that it's divided into season's so you can just get out there without having to endlessly plan... I'm quite looking forward to Autumn now, not that I wasn't before... but... because it was a bit of a "meh" summer I wasn't quite ready for it yet! But I am now!!!

Yes, Autumn can be chilly but it also gives us beautiful leaves!!!

Actually getting my hands working alongside with nature will help me feel connected to the seasons again, which lets face it can be a trifle difficult because as the old saying goes "In London you can get the 4 seasons in a day!" so it can get a bit much sometimes!

Not just for eating, these beautiful gourds are also lovely decorations!

A squash vase... simple, beautiful and perfect for an autumnal party!
So whether you're a green fingered god/goddess or a completely useless "Death Fingered Cactus Killer" this awesome book will get you inspired and back in touch with nature again.
*And FYI Death Fingered Cactus Killer you too will be amazed at how easy it is with the aid of this book to grow things... so don't give up!*

It certainly looks like I'll be keeping my copy close as you never know... today we could be in Autumn and tomorrow thrown back into Spring!

Out on the 3rd of September The Crafted Garden by Louise Curley is available to our readers at the discounted price of £13.99 including p&p* (RRP: £16.99)
telephone 01903 828503 or email and quote the offer code APG355. 

*UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas. 

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Hello sailor, all hands on deck... our swallow patch tutorial is here!

Summer's left us just like the swallows have left our northern skies.
They've flown south for the winter way too soon but fear not because we too can get some of that good feeling back with this cute sewing tutorial!

I've opted for adding my patches to a cardie mainly because I'm always cold... but these patches also work on shirts, dresses, tote bags or anything that needs cheering up!

Another great idea is to add them to some fabric shoes (you know the ones, those cute traditional Chinese canvas ones) adding some embroidered extra details like a sequined covered heart or some other tattoo inspired designs.
Lets face it... they are an old school tattooed sailor staple but are also quite girlie too which is something I absolutely love.

I'll be making quite a few though I hope I don't over due it with the  birdie theme... bah, who cares, I love them so I'm adding them to lots of stuff... shoes, bags, dresses, hair clips...whatever!
Oh well, could you really have enough?!

The ones pictured were made with scraps of letherette and felt but you can use fabric, felt or even paint the details on with acrylic fabric paint.

*Also a top tip which I found after I wrote up the tutorial is that if you use iron on double sided interfacing that it's even easier to add to your clothing!

To download the instructions and template PDF click "here"
Happy making!

Here are a few resources you might find helpful...
Iron on fusable interface fabric:
Wool felt:
Although I've used a basic running stitch it doesn't mean you can't embellish your patches with other stitches: