Sunday, February 27, 2011

52 images for 2011 - week 8 'childhood'

I have been the queen of procrastination again this week.

Even though I decided early on in the week on my image for childhood, it has taken me all week to get round to photographing it, just in time for a last minute entry today.  Well I did have to charge the battery on the camera too, and go for several long walks to test my gadget.

Oh yes and spend some time in the studio to try to catch up with myself so I can reopen my little shop for March.
 This is my choice, some baby booties knitted for Thea on her birth by her great grandmother.

I have kept these in my memory box along with some clothes and shoes, newspapers from the day she was born, her bridesmaid dress and my wedding dress as well as some dried flowers, letters and other bits and pieces from various holidays we have taken.

This is the final image I used.

Now I just have to finish off my February C of creation, and I can get that written up later tonight or tomorrow.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Playing doctors and nurses

Sorry - nothing kinky here.

1.  Brendan's thumb nail turning black and threatening to fall off after he dropped his new welding cage on it over the weekend - and of course he is being a big baby, needing special attention and reassuring that he is not going to die from blood poisoning.....

2. Mr Pink being bitten by something and it turning a bit septic, needing the pus squeezing out, cleaning and re-dressing every day along with a dose of antibiotics.....

3. Arthur needing an inch long thorn removing from between his toes after getting back from our walk today.....

4. Thea stressing over the huge amounts of homework and so needing feeding up.....

5.  errr - well - no chance for me to have any signs of illness or weakness at the moment.

Today's little stroll:  7.693 km, at avg 5.4 km per hour, 631 calories burnt

Sunday, February 20, 2011

I went to the shops and I bought .......

well, actually I was going to buy a little pedometer for when I am taking my little strolls through the countryside with the dog.

My first mistake was going to the shops with Brendan - why you may ask - well it's like this... I went to the shops to buy one of these:

and what I ended up with was one of these:

This is a pedometer watch with calorie counting, altitude and speed measurements based around an inbuilt GPS system.
I know, I know, overkill doesn't even come near, but I think Brendan was a bit concerned that I might just wander off into the Auvergne countryside never to be seen again, or at least that I would be too late back to cook dinner.

Anyway I did not really need that much convincing because I am after all a bit of a gadget freak myself and so the concept of something that would then show me my route on google earth afterwards just was too beguiling to resist.

In fact it was interesting enough to even make Brendan leave the house and walk a little bit with me too, just so he could see the gadget at work.

My first results look like this:

totals  :  6.619 km in 1 hour and 16 minutes and 555 calories burnt.

Now I am off to research how I add routes to the device just so I can see it tell me that I am going the wrong way!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What made me cry this morning?

There I was in amongst some of my favourite things, my balls of wool and my knitting needles, surrounded by patterns and my camera prepped for my week 7 52 images for 2011 theme 'numbers', when the door went.

I raced down the stairs to find the postie fighting off the chickens to leave me a little parcel. A parcel actually addressed to me and not to Thea (who's birthday is coming up so the only post for days has been for her).

I could say I displayed restraint and carefully opened the envelope - but that would be a lie, I tore into it as though my life depended on it. Then had to spend the next 5 minutes manfully blinking the tears from my eyes - I am such a marshmallow these days.

At the beginning of the year, a forum friend organised a little group on Facebook for swapping handmade gifts every month, and today I received my February gift.  An incredibly thoughtful and appropriate gift from someone I have never met, merely 'spoken' to on a forum and via FB.  So thank you.   It is brilliant.  Now I just have to hide the little bag from Thea before she spots and tries to claim it as a makeup bag.

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Week 6 theme - love 52 images for 2011 flickr group

For this week's theme I wanted to capture the essence of the word love as an emotion, rather than a symbolic reference through hearts or flowers, it has just taken me all week to get round to doing it.

In the end I found myself struggling again with the image for the theme.

I was going to take a hand clasp image, inspired by the photo I took at a wedding last year:

but as the group is about taking new photos and not just recycling stock ones, thank you to my beautiful models on Friday for this image
unfortunately someone had already posted a hand clasp image and I did not want to replicate the entry, so had to scout around for something new.

I was considering something along these lines:
but again this is a photo I took a while ago and not during the week of the theme - although it does reflect the theme of love from all angles, Ferguson and his sister Pond are very loving and utterly lovable too.

But from there my thoughts led me to ideas of first loves, and so I decided on the following:

for most children their first experience of love is their pet, and there is nothing quite so rewarding as the unconditional love offered by a loyal dog.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sorry Mum -but it's your fault

I have until the weekend to get away with this posting before I get an earbashing from my mum when she'll read it, roll her eyes then dial quick quick and verbally berate me in several languages.

But it is your fault. I am sorry but it is. There is no getting away from it. You taught me and it is a lesson I have learnt too well all to my cost.

Last year I posted (this), in fact almost a year to the day.

And so a year on with a bit of me time this morning I took a good look at myself. 

Lets start with what I am wearing
- new socks I bought for Thea who decided she did not want them so in effect a pair of castoffs
- a pair of bleach stained repaired cut offs that my mum sent me from a charity shop
- a stained t-shirt in the wrong size that was donated to my rag bin by a friend
- a zippered fleecey top that I detest but is warm
- a pair of second hand charity shop shoes currently serving as my house slippers but the elastic top has broken on one and they bear the marks of the attacks they have suffered at the beaks of the chickens when left outside

And so move on to how I look
- obviously no make up
- all the white hairs showing
- frizzy dry hair from lack of conditioning and going to bed with damp hair untangled
- unplucked eyebrows

What a depressing sight and all my resolutions for this year out the window again (although the cutoffs are a little looser after being frogmarched every day for 2 hours by my 75 year old neighbour).

Why oh why do I do this to myself - well I'll tell you why, it is because all the new things that I bought myself at the start of this year are all beautifully folded and tucked away on top of the wardrobe for best.  AGAIN. 

I thought I had cleared all the cruddy stuff out of my wardrobe but have still managed to find a few things lurking away in there and have gravitated towards them for my daily outfits.

Today once again I am determined to sort out the rubbish bits for recycling - this time starting with my socks - don't ask me why I keep these darned and colour washed bobbly socks when I have some lovely new pairs still with their plastic tags and price tickets attached - bought over a year ago but unworn, tucked away in the corner of the drawer - these were obviously supposed to be my 'best' socks.

Then I intend to go through my linen drawers - which now do not open for the amount of mismatched bed linen in there, you have to take the top drawer of the chest of drawers out to get to the lower drawers to remove a couple of layers before you can pull out the next drawer - and no - this is not an innovative way to store more things in a chest of drawers - this is just me keeping cruddy old rubbish and not opening the bedlinen still in its wrappings from when it was bought as a necessity last summer.

Following on from there I intend to tackle the kitchen linen drawer - I love novelty teatowels (well someone has to I suppose) and I have a lovely set that my sort-of-mother-in-law sent me from Cornwall.  Obviously they too still have their tags attached and I use the same set of orange (yes I know digusting colour but they were 3 for a £1.00 in Ikea) teatowels that I bought 17million years ago.  And yes they are also horribly stained and look dirty the second you take them out of the washing machine.

Speaking of washing machine, as I stood and hung my washing outside today I realised that I was busy arranging it not in the most favourable way to dry but by least embarrassing item.  Half of the washing line needs to go in the bin.

I am sick - I need help.  I don't understand why I think so little of myself that it is acceptable to me to go around in public looking like the reject bin of Oxfam.

To be fair to myself I have been trying to make more of an effort but find myself slipping back every week.  On Monday I could pass as the before person on Gok Wan but by Friday I am down to Bowery bum level again just minus the paper bag of Thunderbird.

I need a daily kick up the backside - and no - posting little positive thinking post-its on the mirror don't help - not being much of a morning person without a litre of caffeine in me all these little pearls of wisdom make me want to do is punch someone's lights out before dawn.

I have tried laying my clothes out before going to bed, then when I wake up in the dark to go to work and it is cold so I end up throwing on another grotty layer to keep me warm as I trudge up the lane then not shedding it as the day goes on.

When it comes to the resolutions I made at the beginning of the year the only comment I can make on myself is 'could do better'. 

Righto - I am going to go and dye my hair now then tame my straggling eyebrows - we have guests coming tomorrow and I don't want to scare them away!

Oh yes - and in case you were wondering why there is a photo of a chicken to accompany this rant - it is because yesterday she was one of the lucky ones to survive the cull.  One goose, two ducks, two cockerels and four rabbits found their way into the freezer.

It was a very bloody and gory day - and yes I did ruin a perfectly good apron and no I am not going to throw it out - I am going to wash it and keep it in all its stained glory until I find another one on sale somewhere - and yes - my horrid orange teatowels were also used and have now got even more stains - and yes they are on the line drying and looking for all the world as though they have been stamped into the muddy ground before they were hung up.

On a brighter note - oh - wait  - no - actually I am still using the army surplus green towels from the caravan in the bathroom instead of the lovely fluffy towels my lovely mum sent me last year - they of course are in the cupboard for best.  However as I intend to dye my hair red today these old towels are probably the best towel for the job of mopping up the slippages from the bathroom floor.
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Sunday, February 6, 2011

February C of cooking - Spicy Butter Bean Curry with Perch filets

Here is the recipe to go with the macro butter bean shots.

Spicy Butter Bean Curry

I used dried butter beans, soaked overnight in cold water, then cooked for an hour; but you can use tinned beans which are obviously ready to use.

This is another one pot recipe so grab a large heavy bottomed pan with a lid.

serves 4

2 cups of rehydrated and cooked dried beans or large tin (400g) of butter beans
2 cups of frozen green beans
1 large onion sliced
1 small red chili chopped finely
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon tumeric
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
15 curry leaves or if you don't have curry leaves you could use 3 tablespoons of curry powder
2 tablespoons of a garam masala spice mix
1 tablespoon of coconut oil if you have it
2 tablespoon of vegetable oil not olive
1 small carton of coconut milk
1 cup of water
Salt and pepper to season

Fry the mustard seeds until they start to pop in the veg oil, then add the onions and chili and leave to saute over a gentle heat until the onions are transparent and soft. Then increased the heat and fry the chili.

Because I am lazy and never fancy doing loads of washing up, if I can get away with it I will just add the spices to the pan rather than creating a separate spice mix in another bowl.

Stir in the coconut oil if you have it - this is just for authenticity and is not required so if you don't have it don't stress, add the spices to the pan and fry off gently for a few minutes.
Then add the cup of water and the beans, cover and leave to simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir in the coconut milk, bring to the boil, season, then reduce to a simmer for another 15 minutes.  I know this means that the beans are a bit overcooked but in my mind for a curry the veg should be soft and not al dente as you might expect when serving as side dishes.

To continue with the 'new' theme - as well as cooking this recipe for the first time, we are eating it alongside a 'new' fish for us.  
Perch is often on sale here on the poissonerie, but it is not a fish we have ever tried before, so I grabbed a couple of large filets, and just used one to serve 3 people.

Cut into 3 generous filets, I seasoned them in a large oven dish, added a splash of water covered with tin foil and left to cook for 20 minutes.

I decided against adding the fish to the curry because I wanted to sample the flavour of the curry without being overwhelmed by the fish, and for the same reason I cooked the fish separately.  It has a good firm meaty texture, but is not at all 'fishy' in smell or flavour.  Very good in fact so that can go on the shopping list for the future.

Big Boy Gardening

Thanks to some friends here in France we have embraced the concept of willy jobs and fanny jobs.

Gardening for some reason falls squarely under the remit of fanny jobs.  Weeding, hoeing, planting, seed drilling, transplanting, pricking out, mowing, trimming and strimming, pruning, fertilising, digging, burning and all jobs inbetween are considered fanny jobs.

Harvesting and preserving are also considered fanny jobs, however consuming is considered a unisex chore!

Getting Brendan outside to help with any gardening related activity is getting nigh on impossible.

Luckily there is one thing that is considered a willy job - and as it necessitates engines and most importantly his beloved Vendeuvre he is even more happy to get outside and assist.  

I now have a fully cultivated veggie plot, ready for the next fanny job - rotavating.

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Friday, February 4, 2011

week 5 - food - 52 images for 2011 flickr group

Torn between the two piccies again - finally decided on the one above.

I have struggled with the theme of food for the 52 images for 2011 flickr group this week, primarily because I take so many photos of food for the recipe items on my blog. I did not want to repeat myself so had to find something that I had not photographed before.
In end I have plumped for these butter beans, in macro.
They have just been fished out of the water they soaked in overnight, before going in the pot to simmer for an hour.
Later tonight they will be the main ingredient in my butter bean spicy curry.

Recipe will be here on my blog in the next couple of days.

Garden planning....

.....please please can we have spring soon.....

Cheap thrills - shaving the cat

Now this may seem a strange occupation but one that is becoming increasingly common in our house. Mr Pink has long grey fur that he drags through the haybarns, through the mole hills, through the coppice and then around all over Brendan's oily tools. In short, he is a complete grubber (how very appropriate for Brendan, as it is his cat after all).

About once a month when the fur on his belly has gathered into impressive rasfarian dreadlocks we shave them off. This month we have had to shave all the way down to his delicate gentlemen's bits and all the way up to his throat. (You can just see on the photo the shaved bits under his chin).

Unlike most cats - he really enjoys it. In fact if you look closely above, he has his tongue stuck out in pleasure as the buzzer runs over his belly. The cat is a buzz freak.

Ferguson is following in his footsteps - he is cultivating his own rasga dreads in his armpits as we speak. He had his first shaving last night. Lying on his back next to Mr Pink purring his head off. Freaks.
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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

First of February - the New Year starts here

OK - so technically the new year started on the first of January, but after having a pretty crappy start to 2011 what with flu and a row with my work agency then feeling ill again, then everyone around me falling ill, then feeling depressed and generally shitty with life in general; I have decided to sweep January under the carpet and pretend that it did not exist and am starting afresh today, the first of February.

So far the highlights of my new New Year are:

- a nice day at work
- a new scrapyard cupboard that tidied up fits into the space in my pantry as though it was designed to be there
- cuddly cats
- fitting into my pre Christmas clothes
- snuggling up in my handmade shawl
- having the house to myself this afternoon
- spending an hour in a hot bubble bath without interruptions
- managing to break through French red tape without developing the feeling that I want to throw the laptop out of the window

In fact if these new New Years continue to be this good I may have to have another one next month.