Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Merry chuffin' Christmas!

That time of year is here again. The mad, consumer-manic, corporation-cashing-in, credit-crazy season that is Christmas.

I can't bear it. Seriously. What way is it to teach our youngsters that hundreds of pounds worth of electronic games and plastic tat is the future?

Or that a a huge pile of gifts on the tree mean your parents love you more than the child down the road.

Pah! We're not going in for any of that - Santa included, and this year we have been eco-conscious and frugal, handmaking all of our gifts from chutneys to jewellery to candle holders. Balls to the apparent lure of 'Half Price Sale Now On' and chuff-off to the 'How much have you spent on your daughter then?' folks who are too nosy for their own good.

Even our wrapping paper is brown parcel paper stamped with snowflakes and decorated with paper string - all compostable. Whether people will compost or recycle it is another matter...

Plus, our daughter is three on Boxing Day, so how much is that a confusing time for her? We have gone for making her birthday a big party day and Christmas a nice quiet family day, with games, lots of good food and quality time and a nice walk to look at the seasonal things we can find.

We have bought her books, a jigsaw, a bike and some lovely handmade gifts from the gorgeous ladies on the GP forum. I shall endeavour to get some photies on here later.

And....AND I even have crochéted a scarf for my girl - all lovely in mint with fury tassley bits on the ends. Most proud I am and can't wait for her to see it.

So there.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Yule Jewels!

Some more jewellery I have been making for gifts...

Some lovely bookmarks, a rose quartz and amethyst bracelet and jasper and turquoise bracelets. Needless to say all of our family is getting jewellery and other hand-made gifts this year!

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Recycle, Reclaim!

Here are some piccies of my recent jewellery-making session, using reclaimed and recycled materials for the most (save the findings) and have produced some pretty cool bits!

Coolest Blue
A memory coil bracelet consisting of lapis lazuli beads and Czech glass, interspersed with silver mirror-style rocaille beads. Complete with matching lapis lazuli and rocaille bead earrings (all new).

Yuletide Red
A memory coil bracelet consisting of red glass and ceramic decorated beads and interspersed with red rocaille beads. A matching pair of dotted ceramic earrings (reclaimed, aside from findings).

Earthborn Brown
A memory coil bracelet consisting of brown reclaimed glass beads, interspersed with earthy-toned rocaille beads. Completed with a matching pair of earrings (reclaimed, aside from findings).

Silver Gemstone Cuffs
Two silver cuff bracelets; with mixed gem placements of turquoise and jasper - three stones on each cuff (photos to follow - bleedin' camera died at the last minute!)

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Feeling not so hot-hot-hot!

Well I have managed to return and post something - seems like forever since I was last on here.

I am now almost 11 weeks pregnant with our second child and feeling grimmer than Grimsby on a very grim day :(

My bowel condition has flared up massively which is leaving me rather housebound, not to mention incredibly guilty that I can't look after my gorgeous girl properly.

She has been a total star, and has told me: "It's ok mummy. You're my best girl and I will take care of you!" So in between vomiting, being adhered to the loo and feeling grim, I have also been in floods of tears at her sheer sweetness.

Weather is not helping I don't think. My poor chickens are miffed with the constant wind and rain and are starting to shed a few feathers. I keep boiling up lots of veggie scraps and pureéing it for them to keep them happy.

Hubby has been a superstar and taken over most jobs including the kitchen - I cannot bear to be looking in the fridge and seeing what to cook, and I'm sure my cravings of pickled onion juice and fizzy sherbert sweets are not
what my family would fancy for dinner!

I am making home-made pizza for dinner tonight though, but I think that's only because I actually want to eat it. Last night it was a strange concoction of tuna steaks (for him), garlic mushrooms and steamed Brussel sprouts with a baked potato.

Hmmm all that talk of food has got me thinking about a nice big Double Decker...can feel another dispatching-of-husband-to-the-shop coming on!


Saturday, 18 October 2008

Crystal crafting...

This morning, I have mostly been making....jewellery!

The weather is pretty cack and we didn't want to go anywhere out that cost money! Part of our crackdown on saving the pennies and all that credit-crunch malarkey.

So here are my craftings from today:

A pair of snowflake obsidian and black onyx with crystal bead earrings;
A pair of lapis lazuli and crystal bead earrings;
Silver cage with crystals, mounted on either a key ring or a suede-effect purple cord for round-the-neck wear.

And a lovely silver bracelet, with alternate rose quartz and amethyst stones.

Very productive! That, and I have re-arranged all of busy child's toy area so that we can actually get through and access things.

Chickens are most disallusioned with the wet weather and have a good old cluck cluck at me, waiting for a handful of fresh green grass.

So we're having an in-afternoon, with jigsaws, cake and Daddy building bricks. Bless him.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Rather quiet of late...

I have been so consumed with *other* things lately, my poor little bloggy blog has gone untended :(
For this, I can only apologise profusely and promise look after it properly hence forth.
I have been writing away, when inspiration strikes (usually either on the loo, 03.00hrs or at work...) but have managed to go past our intended deadline for the latest submission. But then, I'm always late, so there should be no shock there.

My good friend's father died just over a week ago so I have been feeling very down, and contemplative regarding mortality etc. The funeral was on Friday we (four boys and a girl) all went to show our love and support for the family. I have grown up with these boys, and even after over 15 years, and even though we don't see each other all that often, I think at times like death of a loved one, you can truly see who your friends are and that they'll always be there for you.

Madam P has been enjoying making crafty things of late (as in art, not wily ways to outsmart mummy, although sometimes I do wonder...) and getting knee-deep in paint etc. She has also enjoyed visiting the zoo (£13.50 for an adult ticket - what the bjesus is that all about?!) with Daddy, and being delighted with the 'stinky' tigers and greedy peahens trying to pinch her cheese sandwiches.

Our winter potatoes are coming on just lovely and the chickens are thriving, coming running as soon as I open their little door in a morning, with a "bock bock bock" awaiting a little hello and a handful of grass.

She is singing all the time - day and night, and has learned some French songs with, surprisingly, a wonderful French accent and can count to 12 in French (not bad for a two-year-old from Lancashire). Her memory retention is amazing, compared with my amoeba-like recall. There is hope for her then.
We talked about death this week again. Some months ago she brought Hans Christian Anderson's The Little Match Girl to me and wanted to know why the little girl at the end of the book was lying on the step all blue. We have gone with telling her that the little girl had died, and that meant that we couldn't see her anymore - that's what happens when someone dies and it's very sad.

So when my friend's father died and I was getting ready for the funeral, she came out with, "You going to funeral? It's very sad Phil's daddy died. We won't be able to see him anymore." Perfect. I think, for a two-year-old, she has got a great grasp, although basic, of death. I will not shield her from life, of which death is a part of - I don't see the point. It will create fear and uncertainty, and perhaps repression of feelings.

I'm not saying that we would go into great depth of how someone dies, but it is important that children aren't treated as though they are stupid. Death is life and life is death - it's unavoidable so why treat it like a hushed subject of fear and loathing? It's gonna happen to us all, however and whenever, so I say embrace, rejoice and love life. Death is but a mere pause.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Dentist rant...

My dentist appointment yesterday turned into a bit of a farce.

Firstly, I was running late. Yes I KNOW that I am ALWAYS late for everything and anything, but this genuinely wasn't my fault. Honestly.

After the husband's omission of his mobile phone, which continuously trilled the annoying ring tone it throws out at 20 decibels, he remembered that he had left his phone at home, while he was 20 miles away.

I had to then wait for husband's colleague to call on his way to work for the phone.

Which, inevitably delayed me leaving the house. Then, child as unbelievable sweet and beautiful as always, needed a poo, I was running about 10 minutes behind.

After telephoning the dentist's surgery, and finding their answer machine on as per usual - they never answer the phone during surgery hours. Great customer care and very helpful. I think not.

Anyhooooo, I dashed into the surgery, where the receptionist (who looked like she should have been in a heavy metal band) was on the telephone. After a few minutes of waiting, it became obvious that this was a personal call, involving her son and college and something to do with credits for a course.

She then paused her telephone call, to hold her hand up to me a la Jerry Springer show-style, and say she needed to re-book me as I missed my slot.

Quietly seething and suddenly wanting to jab her in the eye with the pencil she was writing with, I stood waiting while she actually carried on with her private phonecall!

I muttered several words about her being a heinous something or other and marched out.

One stark and ranting letter to the surgery of complaint, and I felt rather less angry and refreshed. She could have at least spoken to me to explain why I couldn't be seen, or at least had the bloody manners to not conduct personal phonecalls in work time.

Might need to find a new dentist now. Hmmmm....

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Autumn is here?

Yet another day of rain in August. I think the Summer has well and truly snuffed it and it is early Autumn already.

Not that we care at all - we just wrap up accordingly and carry on - it would be daft not to. We are soooo obssessed with weather orientation in the UK - wherever you go you will always hear conversation regarding the inclement weather:
"Ooooh it's been raining for five days now, our Mary!" said in total shock by some elderly mac-clad lady.
I mean, for god's sake, this is Britain - you would think everyone would be used to the constant pour down of dirty grey rain. And then, when the weather dare reveal some sunshine and high temperatures, we all have a total meltdown and can't cope in such blistering climate.
But then, you will always still see the little old lady from the corner house trotting down to the shop in her winter coat..."Just in case of rain, love."

I seem to have spent the last three days in the kitchen. We have made some fab caramelised chutney from a recipe I found on http://www.self-sufficient.co.uk/Make-Caramelised-Onion-Chutney.htm

which has almost gone. Sod the 'leave for four to six weeks to mature for best flavours' aye alright then, that certainly wasn't going to happen in our house. "Please have some more chut-en-ay mummy!" from child, surprisingly. I thought it might have been a bit too tart for her, but she loved it. With fresh Tiger bread and chunks of cheese. Bloody lovely!

And then we made some yummy gingerbread people,

who taste lovely. I think I ate most of the icing sugar, hence the sparsely-decorated other tray of gingerbread I didn't photograph...

We also saw the Red Arrows take off from Blackpool Airport on Saturday. Pixie snored her way through the lot, but it was great to see for those of us who stayed awake.
The pictures are pretty cack to be honest. By the time we had got the camera ready, the Arrows had formed into threes and were ready for take off, the camera batteries died.
I had the idea of using my mobile phone's camera, but could I get it right? Could I sherbert. The camera vision is back to front somehow, and I could only see buildings, which were nowhere near the planes. I got seriously confused and I spent most of the take-off spectacular, fiddling and didn't take one picture - I couldn't find the planes through the camera and it was a true imbecile moment for me. Good job DH has the mental capacity to press 'take' on the camera and get a good picture. More than his bird-brain wife...

Friday, 22 August 2008

Friday at last

Here I sit, drinking a fresh latte, watching our hens turn their already mudbath-like run into a swamp. Gone is the fresh grassy patch they have eaten/scratched/pooed all over and a lovely soily mess has replaced it.

Not that we care at all - they are obviously having a great time, clucking and pecking their day away. Two of the the three hens are now laying, so fresh warm, brown eggs are ready every day - the familiar "bok bok bok bok bok" sounds inform us that they have laid.

Their little hen house is cosy - darling husband and his friend built it, and the hens sleep on finely shredded paper - from my office and home, and then we compost it. Marvellous!

Monica, Mildred and Chocolate are full of character, for hens. They come running when you call them, feed out of your hand and crouch down for a tickle when you enter the run.

I think it's amazing that our two-year-old knows how to care for them, and enjoy it too. The shouts of "Mummy they've pooed AGAIN!" could be heard throughout the neighbourhood, when we first got them - I think it was a total shock how much hens actually did poo! But, it's full of nitrogen - a must for healthy compost breakdown. I've also been told you can pee on a compost heap to help it degenerate, but I don't think my elderly neighbours would be prepared to see my squatting on top of the compost bin first thing in the morning...

Anyone for omelette?

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Recipe for Andalusian Gazpacho

This scrummy recipe is taken from Be the Change You Want to See in The World by Julie Fisher-McGarry.

1 cup of day-old bread, toasted and cubed
4 large organic tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded - I just wanged the whole lot in ;)
1/2 red pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of salt (optional)
freshly ground pepper to taste

Save about a 1/4 cup of the bread, tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper and onion. Whizz the rest of everything in a blender or processor until you get the consistency you like. Chill for one hour, and then serve, scattering some of the saved ingredients for the top. Yum yum yum!

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Chill-out Sunday

Today was a great day. Hubby had golf cancelled due to a very soggy course, so we got Daddy all day to ourselves.
We had a lovely family breakfast with yummy fresh coffee made by DH, then it was off upstairs to create a cosy reading/quiet corner for Pixie.

She adores her books and her dollies so we thought she should have a comfy little dedicated space where she could chill and read and play.
This actually turned into a total bedroom rearranging session. We all pitched in and Pixie directed where she would like her furniture to.

Daddy fitted a new daisy light in the corner and we put some cushions and a huge teddy - Peter the Polar Bear in the corner to snuggle in to, with a blanket. Pixie has her little wooden stool there too, where her selected books of the day sit.
She wanted to sleep there too, it was that cosy, but we managed to encourage her into bed for her afternoon nap.

After lunch, we did another blackberry forage - got loads today, and made a scrummy blackberry crumble and some odd little cookie/dusty biscuits. I combined about three recipes for the biscuits and somehow ended up with a weird biscuit thing. Actually tasted quite good though!

I also made a fab Gazpacho (even if I do say so myself!) and will post the recipe here shortly. We had a whole load of organic veggies delivered on Friday so I was quite excited to see what I could make out of them! Sad, I know!

Saturday, 16 August 2008


When I was born, my mother said I arrived exactly on my due date, no problems.

I think perhaps, that is the only occasion I have been on time in my whole life. Seriously.

Don't get me wrong, I don't intentionally set out to be late, it just kind of happens.

Take work for example. I only work three days a week (soon to be two days), and start at 10.00hrs - so really, I shouldn't have any issues with being on time. But I always do.

Even if I set the alarm clock to get me out of bed at 03.00hrs, guaranteed, I would be late.

I end up in such a flap, rushing around, chasing child over a mountain of toys to help her to dress and brush her teeth, manage to jump in the shower...only for child to kindly have stripped off again and gatecrash my only two minutes of peace in to declare: "My want to shower with Mummy! Yes, I coming in, yes I am. Don't say I not!"

Who am I to argue?

So, hence the delays of child, dog requiring this that and the other, hens needing food and water for the day and me, forgetting everything (including shoes on one occasion...don't even ask) - I am without fail, always late.

I would like to think it is an endearing quality sometimes, but often, I bet people get really narked with me. Hubby always plans for my rubbish attempts at being on time, and tells me if he's taking me out, to be ready half an hour before I need to be ready. Although I have cottoned on to this one, and still manage not to be on time.

I will promise to work on this shortfall though - I think even I am getting annoyed by it!

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Blackberry foraging..

Our intended rainy day walk wasn't so rainy in the end.

We got all togged up with mac, Wellington boots and umbrellas, only for the sun to come out and make us look a little crazy when we walked down the street dressed for floods and gales. Ho hum, such is the weather in good old Blighty.

We happened upon a mass of blackberries on a little private lane. Actually, I'm not too sure whether we should have been there anyway. Did I see a 'Private Lane' sign? Ne'mind. It's all good. Don't think there was anyone watching...

The hedgerows were quite high up on embankments, and I was balancing dd before she fell into the boggy deep grass and making sure the dog didn't do his own thing as always, and wander off.

Hence me typing with thorny fingers and blackberry-stained hands.

It was worth it though, and we have had berries for our desert. Still lots left but might take dh and dd back later with a box and pick some more for freezing and baking later in the year

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Cack weather!

Well yet again, it is slashing it down, and our poor hens don't seem to know what to do for the best.

Just been for a lovely rainy walk, and managed to find some lovely blackberries on the way, so picked a clump and shoved them into the rather handy dog poo bag in my pocket.

I had to double-check when I got back that I actually brought the right bag into the house - blackberries, that was, not a bag of stinky doggy poo!

We had a lovely anniversary meal at the local Indian. Our first child-free evening for ages, so we had a load of plans, but still managed to be in bed by 22.00hrs...absolute rebels, I tell you. Personally, I could have crawled into bed about 19.00hrs with some Horlicks and a good book, one has to make the effort eh?

I hope to get some more writing done later. The other half of the Smartie Duo arrived yesterday, laden with ideas and madcap antics where we nearly wet ourselves laughing. A good deal of progress was made, as well as copious amounts of coffee drunk and cakey eaten - a perfect combination.

Golf is also on, so the redundant television has been given a new life for the weekend so dh can watch overpaid men smack balls over fields with sticks. Bless. I might get some brownie points out of it for being such a sweet and understanding wife.

Friday, 8 August 2008

August 8th 2008

Another lovely morning; bright sunshine and blue skies. No doubt it will be p*****g down by lunchtime though...

Am sat chilling in the conservatory, watching our greedy hens fight each other for the remaining grass that they haven't churned up yet.

Child is still asleep - a marvel in itself, and should really make some breakfast but I cannot be bothered just yet.

Our wedding anniversary is today - five years. We don't do cards or presents as they seem so materialistic, althought I did send dh a rather wonderful poem via text. He said he shed a tear. Probably nearly crashed the car whilst reading it, and the tear was from the almost-crash into the lampost...

Have just been searching for info on how and when to cut lavender. I'm still not 100% whether to cut it yet, because ours has no flowers on it. I shall be prudent and leave it til some flowers blossom. I was going to make some little lavender bags for clothes drawers and some pot pourri.

Am having a bit of a writer's block with our new book, so I am hoping that the wonderful Mr Taylor will be arriving later today to show me some more of his fab illustrations so I can be jettisoned back to creativity.

Harvested some more peas yesterday. That sounds grand doesn't it? Although, the peas are only growing in a little wooden wheelbarrow, not a huge crop like it sounds. We hope to do grand-scale next year.

We baked gingerbread and iced it yesterday. I keep having to remind my dd that while it's ok to lick the spoon once in a while when we are baking, the people we are making the gingerbread for perhaps wouldn't like it bogey-infused....she just stared at me hard, and carried on picking her little nose. Hmmm, so for all those who have actually eaten our gingerbread, I hope you enjoyed the special flavours.

Monday, 4 August 2008

My new blog!

Well here it is! The long-awaited blog which will contain anything and everything that is important in our lives.

From our continued efforts to be as green as possible, to our plans for self-sufficiency(ish).

Also, our road to home-educate our beautiful little girl and ensure that she experiences a life-long love of learning because she wants to, not because she has to.

My writing, and the very special partnership between me and my age-old friend, talented illustrator and fellow Smartie creator - Mr Nick Taylor esq, and our mid-publication updates.

And, of course, our lovely new hens: Monica, Chocolate and Mildred!