Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Carrot & Pineapple Squares

The general idea of vegetables in a cake sounds a bit odd but carrots have been used as a sweetener since the time of medieval banquets. It was during the sugar rationing of the Second World War that the carrot cake came into its own and today there are a wide variety of recipes and the An Grianán recipe is one of my favourites.
I sampled the Carrot & Pineapple Squares for the first time in An Grianán and fell in love with their flavour.  I have made the squares a few times and made them again recently for a tea and coffee morning with some friends.

Here’s how I got on…

This recipe makes a tasty moist and fruity flavoured cake.  Yummy!

Following the An Grianán recipe I made an icing sugar and lemon topping but it is just as good with a cream cheese topping.

The I.C.A. Cookbook is available nationwide 

For more information contact An Grianán at or 041 9822119

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Card Stamping

I usually attend the day class’s in the I.C.A. Head office. They are a great way of getting a feel for a craft without investing two much time and money only to find that it’s not for you.

The most recent class I attended was card stamping and having attended a card stitching class before I was looking forward to building up my card making repertoire.

Here is how I got on…

I loved this card making class purely for its simplicity and usefulness. In general Mondays craft classes can be fairly full and it is better if you bring along the recommended equipment or else you may be waiting awhile for things like scissors, the experience is much more enjoyable if you can go at your own pace. The cost of the class was 10 Euro and the materials were 5 Euro.  A lunch of Tea or Coffee, biscuits, soup and rolls was also included.

For more information on day class’s email ICA head office at

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Bag Making

With a decrease in budget and an increase in high street shops, it can be difficult to get anything unique.  With this in mind when I saw the bag making course in An Grianán, I decided to be brave and try to make my own bag.

When the class began, we were given our pick of bag shape and fabric kit. Since I hadn’t touched a sewing machine in a very long time, I chose a basic shape and fabric with a toile print because I fell in love with its characters and colour.

The Kit contained, fabric for the straps, outer bag, lining, pocket and bag base. It also contained Vilene, wadding and a magnetic clasp. Written and picture instructions were also given.
Due to my beginner status I was delighted that the sewing machine allowed me to choose a speed setting. I chose the slowest. My teacher, Mary Coonan, also made me aware of this incredible device called a magnetic seam guide witch became my best friend throughout the process helping me to keep my stitches straight.

Here’s how I got on

Despite having little experience with a sowing machine and no experience at bag making, I managed to complete my very own in one day. The only difficulty I came across was manoeuvring the thick layers of fabric trough the machine. The step by step instructions were easy to follow when combined with the pictures and when I came across any difficulty’s Mary was there to help. 
I already have pick out the fabric for my next bag.              

Have you made a bag before? Comment and share  :D

For more information contact An Grianán at

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Pallet Knife Painting

I personally love the aesthetic of paintings with texture and the thicker the paint the better. This is why I was so excited to attend the pallet knife painting class in An Grianán thought by Catherine Lawler and experienced artist and teacher.

Pallet knives unlike a sharp cutting knifes are blunt and are known to be grate for creating texture. I hadn’t attempted this technique since secondary school and was still very much a beginner, because of this I didn’t have any equipment but another more experienced class mate, jean, helped me out.

 To get used to the technique, the main body of my painting consisted of three colours cobalt blue, yellow ocher and a white. The colour crimson was used to paint the boat.

Here’s how I got on

Due to the level of texturing, paintings can take some time to dry here’s mine after a few hours.

The great thing about pallet knife painting is that its main focus on is colour and texture rather than exact shapes and lines making it an approachable art form for all levels of experience.  Below are some of the paintings created by my class mates showing the ranges of expertise.

There is a saying that the greatest artist has yet to pick up a paint brush, in this case the pallet knife. So don’t let your fear of not being perfect stop you I recommend this class to all.

What’s you favourite style of painting? Comment and share :D

For more information contact An Grianán at
Check out Catherine Lawler’s gallery at