Sunday, 27 September 2009

Poppy Painting

It has been a glorious day, warm and sunny the chooks have been revamping the garden and I no longer have a single flower left on a plant! C has been frowning and devising a new system, as he is fed up with having to watch where he walks!

I have spent the last couple of days painting, it is surprising how quickly the time passes when I have a paintbrush in my hand. (I am a rather messy painter, I have managed to get paint all over my lovely white linen trousers, my pretty blue top, and on the handle of my crutches!) so here it is, (still debating with the colour round the centre, but I could fiddle for eternity!) It is roughly twice the size of A3, I can't seem to paint small things! I intend to pop it on the wall in our lounge, (C is happy to do so) but at the mo it is drying in the shed, (have had to move the poster of Edward Cullen temporarily)

Friday, 25 September 2009

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash sums up Autumn for me! Maybe it is their golden colour or the gorgeous creamy flavour. The fabulous M came over to take me to the doc's (two more weeks and I might be back to normal!) then we had a lovely day in the shed! Mind you we spent a lot of time watching the chooks! I make this soup for all my friends when they come over and have very positive comments. So here it is for you. The ingredients are not exact find a combination to suit you! It is lovely with granary bread doorsteps thickly spread with butter!

1 large butternut squash
1 red onion
1 1/2 pints of good quality vegetable stock (I use marigold)
A good handful of red lentils
a good squidge of tomato puree
500 ml of creme fraiche
Olive oil
Good teaspoon of ginger
coriander or parsley

Saute the chopped onion gently in the olive oil,
Peel the butternut squash, use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and cut into cubes of roughly the same size add to the onions and allow to soften. Put a lid on the pan and allow the onions and squash to sweat for a while, about 15 to 20 Min's. (stir now and then)
Add ginger and stir, (you can add paprika or chili powder if you like it hot)
Pour over the stock, add the squish of tomato puree and let it slowly bubble away for 30 - 45 minutes. (keep the lid on and stir now and then). Remove the lid and allow the soup to reduce a little, (around 15 minutes). You can either use a liquidiser to smooth the soup, or if you prefer it a little more chunky use a potato masher stir in the creme fraiche, serve with chopped herbs of your choice.

The tomato puree is great for adding colour which is why I use red onion too. You can mix up the veg, I sometimes add carrots or sweet potatoes! I hope you enjoy it! The ginger gives it a little kick, add as much as you want.

While we ate, I could not help take a pic of Oscar, I think he has taken up meditation! Such a gorgeous boy!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Dorset Mumbles

As I write we are in the foothills of the beautiful Dorset countryside, my favourite place on earth! My leg has been quite painful the last few days, fearful I would be a sad lonely old wretch, I invited friends to the shed to help lift my sprits, Tuesday being a really busy day with L&M visiting, W&G back from Corfu, my dear friend D came over with her daughter, (actually I ordered her over, but that is another story) as well as the vivacious N! That evening I could not sleep as the leg was giving me jip! So much so, I risked drug addiction and took my co-drydamol tablets just to get some sleep. (the media are reporting how easy it is to be addicted to painkillers containing codeine!) Fearing I would never get back to a normal life I spent the entire Wednesday on the sofa with my leg dutifully raised. (I also picked up my crochet book and mastered lovely roses!) Clive decided my shed was a strong tempting crutch walk to the end of the garden so the best option was to head off in the caravan. It really is the only time I can fully relax! We sleep usually at least 12hours a day!
I must say after our trip to Abbotsbury I was a little nostalgic for Dorset, so we booked a new site close by which has proved to be wonderful. (They have baths joy of joys!) Mr C is the most tolerant person on earth, gladly wheeling me round Lyme Regis seafront, which was so delightful in the September sunshine. Usually I love to wander the hills and narrow streets but this time we stayed on the front people watching! While sitting, I realised I rarely live in the moment. I am always seeking out some new stimulus, reading, or looking for the next project, etc, that I forget to simply be. What a wonderful gift! We ate fish and chips with the clear sea air blowing softly in our faces, watching the brown (never seen before) seagulls flap and skit about. I am so lucky to have someone who cares enough to lug me around in the wheelchair, not only that we seem to chat easily about this and that. He also showed his absolute fabulousness by going back via Becca’s Emporium in Broadwindsor, as well as stopping by a market stall in Bridport that was selling some fabulous Kath Kitson Fabric at under a tenner a metre. (They are there every Saturday well worth the trip!)
However, the time away has given me the opportunity to catch up with some reading as well as mastering the art of crochet flowers!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

“the only bad thing about this book is that it ends” this is like no other book I have read, I must admit that it took two attempts, as I found the Juliet’s voice a little bit posh for my liking. But I finished the ‘story of us’ and brought this along with me so gave it another go! I am so glad I did, I could not put it down.
Once you get to the Guernsey letters the characters in the story are wonderful, most of them quirky, yet endearing, the extra ordinary name is all explained, so I won’t give it away here. It just shows the strength of the writing that the characters come alive so well in the short letters going back and forth, each character’s voice comes across clearly, I found I did not need to read the short introduction.
This is an uplifting book, about people finding solace in reading through adversity; it does have some sad stories to tell, but told with such humanity and lightness of touch, you are drawn in. Don’t think for one minute this is ‘mis-lit’ there is so much to laugh at it is a joy to read leaving me very optimistic and full of hope.
Read the postscript comments by Annie Barrows, it tells you a little about Mary Ann Shaffer, clearly an amazing woman. I particularly liked Annie’s last remarks,
“We are transformed magically into a literary society every time we pass a book along, each time we ask a question about it, each time we say, ‘if you liked that, I bet you’d like this.’ Whenever we are willing to be delighted and share our delight, as Mary Ann did, we are part of the ongoing story of the ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’. “
Anne Barrows 2009.
Read it, you will love it just as much as I did!

Book Review The Story of Us Marcia Preston

‘The story of Us’ by Marcia Preston

After reading the Butterfly House, I was intrigued to read more from Maria Preston; I found her writing so evocative I did not want to just read one of her books before passing judgement, I am so glad I did. This book is so much fuller than the Butterfly House, the characters are more developed, Marcia writes beautifully. It is rare these days for me to just stop reading for a moment and savour the lines, but I had to stop at one point and simply admire her skill of writing! The emotion she conveyed in that moment really touched me.

You will think I am very maudlin at the moment, because this is the tale about a young man dying in a car crash, however, it is more about the characters around this event, namely his mother, his girlfriend the recipient of his heart, his father and the man who causes the accident. Their stories are beautifully woven, sometimes you see the same event through two different perspectives; it is delicately done.

It is about loss and coming to terms with grief, but also about how damaged people can find their way back as well as how we can all be connected through circumstances. The chapter where the mother places her hands above her son’s heart is simply beautiful, I had to stop reading and just savour the writing. If I could change one thing it is that Marcia seems to pile on the difficulties, her characters seem to be drowned in tragedy rather than just one event, I think it stresses the point a little too much. (the butterfly house was layered on too thickly!). I think this writer just gets better and better, however, I think it is time for something a little more light hearted!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Vanals not chickens!

I don't have chickens, but garden vandals! The girls love to wander round the garden especially in the flower beds. I heard they really enjoy slugs and was quite happy to let them wander however, as gardeners they aren't all that successful, it seems they don't understand the difference between flowers and weeds!

Edna has a particular penchant for busy Lizzie's, the pots are now full of stalks rather than flowers! It is such a wonderful way to De stress, watching them as they scratch and peck! They are so fascinating and very inquisitive. They will follow me all over the garden, running full pelt to me when I step outside the door. (Of course I realise that they are just hoping for corn! and it isn't my chicken magnetism!) It is amazing how fast a chicken can run, it makes me smile every time I see it.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

The Shop on Blossom Street

This is a wonderful read, if you want to get away from all the miserable credit crunch the end of summer and how most people around seem to be grumpy and downright nasty. Debbie is a fantastic writer amazingly she has dyslexia and really struggled to get published, I am so glad she did.

This book is about a yarn store, and delivers a cosy tale of four very different women, (this lived up to the promise of the Friday Night Knitting Club, which I personally found rather disappointing!).

I know it all seemed to fit very neatly at the end, with a lovely happy ever after, but it is so nice to inhabit a world where people connect and care about each other.

Pippa this one is for you, especially as it is a lovely crafty tale! You just want to pick up your knitting, curl up under a cosy quilt and enjoy the lovely Autumn evenings.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Trip to Abbotsbury

Mum had wanted to go to Abbotsbury for nearly thirty years, so for her birthday I booked us a B&B to stay in Dorset for the weekend, Unable to drive we have postponed the weekend but we thought we would go for the day so she wasn't disappointed! Here is C and Mum enjoying a lovely cuppa in the Sub tropical gardens. If C looks exhausted then I am not surprised, he decided to go off road pushing me in the wheelchair. This included steep hills, twists and turns!

The gardens were fabulous, so colourful. We saw a banana tree flower, as well as Lilly ponds, azaleas and this colourful little chap, supposedly a pheasant, he was simply beautiful, and quite happy for me to snap away at him.

The route included some sculpture too, although I don't think I am quite arty enough to understand some of it! It was a glorious day, the gardens were exquisite, something you could see several times a year and they would be totally different depending on the blooms.

Abbotsbury was amazing the swans and geese so noisy! We saw them being fed, they group together quite happily there, something they don't do in the wild as usually they are fiercely territorial. As you can see there are hundreds of them! You may, if you look closely, see a black swan, native to Australia. They only produce eggs during the yearly rain there, but as it rains here all the time, they are prolific!

Friday, 11 September 2009

Silky Tango skirt

Tango is fabulous, not only is a wonderful dance but the dresses are so feminine, you have to wear something silky and high heels! I spend most of my time at the Milongas (evening dances) looking at what the other women are wearing! Pretty soon after starting out, I had exhausted my wardrobe and needed something different, so what joy when I found this half completed skirt in the bottom of my fabric stash! Most of the hard work had been done, the pattern however was designed to have an elasticated waist, (not a good look for me!) so I put in a couple of darts, a side zip and bound the waist with bias binding. I only wish I had bought more fabric, it is a wonderful weight, swings beautifully and is lovely to wear!

Silk dress

This gorgeous fabric was a one off roll in my favourite store, it was a dream to work with, quite silky, with a lovely weight. I have worn it dancing and it moves beautifully.

The top has princess seams, I was very careful to match the fabric correctly, I am really pleased with the results. The skirt was a very flattering A line, and I struggled to get the line and fitting round the waist, fortunately dolly came in very useful. (Dolly being my dummy!) The original pattern was sleeveless, however I am always lifting my arms when I dance, and a little shy about showing my underarms, so I added sleeves.

A different perspective

Last Saturday I was dancing away quite happily when ping! something went in the back of my leg, followed by a really bad cramp! A visit to the hospital confirmed I had torn a ligament, no walking for at least two weeks! No dancing for a month!

When my lovely daughter suggested a trip to my favourite fabric store which has just moved to bigger premises. We thought we would try out the shop mobility, as I could not walk far! They were fantastic, the guy wanted me to try a mobility scooter, but the wicker basket just wasn't me! I opted for an electric wheelchair with a joystick! After cursory form filling, the exchange of a fiver, and some relatively easy manoeuvring challenges, (pretend you are in a lift) I was waved off with the the guys kind words ringing in my ears
"you are covered by insurance if you break anything!" I was now in charge of an electric wheelchair with a top speed of 5 miles an hour!

Pretending you are in a lift is actually easier than actually being in one! Following my mentors advice I went in forwards and attempted to exit the lift backwards. However, i hit the side of the lift and went forward for another attempt, when the lift doors shut and I was taken up to the next floor! After going up and down a few times, I managed to get out of the lift, a kind lady risked white finger by pressing the open door button for a full five minutes!

If you ever want to take up shop lifting, an electric wheelchair makes a great accomplice, in a clothes shop I caught the handles on a couple of dresses and a bag! Fortunately Lucy came to my rescue, a five mile an hour getaway vehicle was no match for a security guard.

I did not realise how difficult it is trying to get round the shopping centre, people walk right in front of you, so I got very good at emergency stops. I now realise why it is important to have ramps and wide doors, it is nearly impossible to get round some shops!

The new store was great, I bought some fab red polka dot fabric for a fifties inspired dress from the sew magazine. At least I will have time to make it!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Never leave a tissue in your trouser pocket!

C is always nagging me about tissues, and I usually let this pass me by. However, I dried these trousers inside out and was about to iron them to wear when I discovered this! Quite an achievement! Hate to admit it but C is right!

A different perspective!

I was dancing away Saturday night, just asked a really nice guy to dance when suddenly i felt a ping followed by a cramping pain in the back of my leg. We spent a couple of hours down at casualty on Sunday morning, to discover I have damaged a tendon! No dancing for a month! No driving for a couple of weeks! So I am consigned to the shed for a couple of weeks!

Lucy very kindly turned up around lunchtime today, and offered to take me into Southampton as they have a great wheelchair lending service. They couldn't have been nicer, a lovely chap helped me to learn how to control an electric wheelchair, and then I was set free to roam the shops.

I have often seen people getting around in these, often secretly thinking they look a lot of fun, and I was right they are! We had quite a laugh when I did not get out of the lift quick enough and ended up going up and down for a while! Maneuvering it was quite challenging at times, as the shelves in shops can be quite tight!

What did surprise me was the attitude of other shoppers! One girl who was walking towards me texting nearly tripped over me as she spotted me in front of her at the last minute, but rather than apologise, she swore at me! Another group of girls decided to stop right in front of me and I was able to perform an emergency stop, but they would not move! Another woman stood blocking a whole aisle was really annoyed when we asked her, very nicely, if she wouldn't mind moving so we could get past! As for the shop assistant in the fabric shop, she actually sighed and rolled her eyes when I asked if I could use the lift for the second floor!

Fortunately, it did not stop our enjoyment, we spent most of the afternoon laughing at my attempts to steer straight, navigate lifts and aisles! By the end of the afternoon I had become quite talented!

I hope this experience has made me more aware of disabled people, and I am more willing to help them. Just as soon as I stop being one myself!

We have eggs!

It has been a glorious day, sunny and warm, I let the chooks out into the garden, they love scratching around. They would be really good at weeding except they don't know the difference between a plant and a weed! We have eggs now! I am like a child on christmas morning, when I go down to peep into the nesting box, finding an egg there! It is wonderful. They now have their own personality, Daisy will do abosolutely anything for corn, and is quite happy to be held and stroked. Edna is the escape artist, always looking round to see if she can find a way out! May has settled in well, following the others, but Dolly is the scary one, she makes awful squarking noises, won't be tempted by corn and generally seems to be a little bad temperd! Still, they are laying and (Dolly excepted) seem to be very happy.

This is Edna scratching
around, the problem with trying to take their photo's is that they usally have their faces pecking the dirt and their bottoms in the air! Such a lovely girl!

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Ahh September

Mmn Autumn, season of mists and mellow I love September!
September comes as a welcome relief, the Forest has been full to bursting with tourists, now the children have gone back to school there is a feeling of being back to routine.

I love the Autumn, not only for the glorious colour, but the change in weather, so that it is no longer sinful to sit indoors and craft away. The hedgerows are full to bursting with blackberries and there is nothing better to make me feel like a domestic goddess when the freezer is full of home made cooking!

September offers new beginnings, classes to sign up to, opportunities to take up. I always love the local college prospectus.... shall I learn to make hand made chocolates? Or will it be Spanish? C has signed up for Upholstery, which is something he is interested in. King of procrastination, it is an chance to get down to his own personal form of creativity. He is extremely talented and far more productive in his creativity than I am! (The wonderful garden is a shining example to his practical creativity that gives me pleasure every day!)

I have decided not to sign up for anything, despite the opportunities there. I am on a bit of a curb at the moment. I go through phases of rushing around to various activities: The WI, Tango, Book Clubs, Writing groups, Jive dancing, stitch and chat, Embroidery Group, Cinema with friends, Reading – the list is endless. I am not really sure what all this frantic activity is all about but suddenly I find I am getting stressed about all the things I am doing and end up not doing anything!

My problem is that there is so much out there, so many opportunities that I want to try them all, it is the same about craft. I see something inspirational, say on Flickr, or in a magazine and I want to have a go, but then I see another activity and off I go on that one.... I don’t think I actually finish anything much, just end up with a shed full of half finished projects. This is dangerous, because it seems like there is nothing to show for your efforts, and then it becomes self sabotage!

So the secret is to limit the stimulus, not to go on Flickr or look at magazines, just take the time to do one project at a time. I think I need this for my sanity!

So no more WI, Jive, Reading group (they want me to read catch 22! No way!) Embroidery group, Flickr, magazines or craft books... now I am going to try to keep the stimulus low so I can take my time and enjoy the current project. (just to see how long I can keep it up). Tango on Tuesdays (no more milongas!), creative writing on Mondays and that is ALL!

Well apart from this blog of course!