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!