Saturday, 20 January 2018

Ditching Grumpiness

I have a little morning routine going on even before I leave my bed.  I meditate, write in my Little Book of Gratefulness and ponder on the meaning of my daily angel card reading.    Then I'll do some blogging related stuff:  scheduling and writing posts, replying to comments, that sort of thing.  I might enter a couple of competitions on Prizefinder too.   All with a great big steaming cuppa to welcome in the day.   But yesterday's routine  was disrupted.  Louis rang at 6:45  He's been poorly for a couple of days but despite that had struggled into school.   But he'd woken up feeling  much worse and his dad had left home early to get to the airport to take his girlfriend away from his birthday.  Could I come and get him?

So I dropped everything and by 7:15 I was out on the road for a forty mile round trip.  I started off feeling grumpy.  My precious me time had been snatched away.   In the old days those emotions would have gone unchecked for the whole journey.  These days I try to change the focus by listening to uplifting music or something inspiring on YouTube.    After all it's only me that my bitter twisted inner world will affect.   So I switched from  resentful thinking to listening to this Wayne Dyer talk  for the second time in a week.  There were lessons within it that I hadn't quite absorbed  the first time around so that's why I made a return visit.

In one part Wayne speaks about two very similar encounters where he was asked what it was like to live in his hometown.  He'd turned the question around each time.  'What's it like where you live?' he'd asked the two individuals.  One talked about how she found the residents tricky whereas the other said that they were friendly and caring.  'That's pretty much how you'll find folks to be here.' he replied on each occasion.

Yes, we  do make our own reality.  I ditched the grumpiness and started to notice my world around me.  It was touching how a groggy looking Louis was so pleased to see me when I arrived to pick him up.  I'd done right.  And the drive back was lovely.  The light was beautiful and although this picture isn't my own, the one over the South Hams yesterday morning was just as much of a humdinger.   I'd have missed it if I'd have stayed at home and would have done too if I'd stayed in the negative fretful mindset. 

Friday, 19 January 2018

Dog Sled: Bringing New Meaning to the Phrase!

I  realise that people in other parts of the UK might have been experiencing wintery snaps.  We hardly ever get any of the white stuff in Torbay.  Just one flake gets us a little excited and causes traffic chaos!  So it's a snowy themed post today just to remind me what snow looks like.  I hope you enjoy it.  Even if you've seen it before it's worth watching again as it's really rather joyful.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Trump Tales

My friend, The Second Martha Stewart, snapped this at WH Smith on one of the London stations.  Interesting times.  Even though I've reduced my news input these days in favour of directing my focus in a more edifying direction,  what's going on in the big wide world doesn't entirely pass me by.   

Louis seems fascinated by Donald Trump.  It started when he told that sweet 'old lady' on the bus that the then president incumbent wanted to sleep with his daughter.  It's refreshing to realise that a teenager recognises outragoeusly unacceptable behaviour when he sees it.  I must have done something right on my parenting journey.  Last weekend he went to Waterstones to spend the book token that the staff gave him on his recent work placement.  He'd been told to buy one academic book so he got a revision manual for his GCSE English.   He also spied this on the front display counter.

Some way has taken lots of quotes from Donald and rearrange them to create poetry.  I love the Dylan Thomas-esque cover too.  'I've got to have that!' said Louis.  The book's gone off in his school bag and apparently all his friends are having a bit of a laugh too.   Here's one of those 'beautiful poems' that gave me a giggle.  It is quite astonishing that the most powerful man in the world saw fit to let these utterances out of his mouth.  But he did.  Each line in the book is referrenced.
Will Smith did a great job by smacking the guy “reporter” who kissed him 
Together we're going to fix our rigged system

Sarah Jessica Parker voted “unsexiest woman alive” – I agree
We must keep “evil” out of our country
A person who is very flat chested is very hard to be a ten
We're going to make America great again

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Good Old Ebay

Back in 2012 I bought my first Skipping Girl bag from Oxfam, an Australian brand hand woven out of repurposed fishing twine.  And here it is.  I've had a couple more since.  They're really robust apart from the clear plastic that usually covers the twine handles.  Once it splits all sorts of debris gets in and makes for a shabby carry all.  Thank goodness for Ebay.  Here's my replacement that arrived last week.  Just over a tenner and it will keep going for a good year or so.

I'm a bit naughty about buying clothes.  One of the reasons is that I get bored with wearing the same thing.  It's a win-win situation for the charity shops as I donate and I'm a customer as well.

There's two dresses though that I bought from George in Asda about four years ago that I love and have worn and worn.  But they're both on the way out.  However with a complicated search on Ebay I've got  replacements.  Here's the first photographed with my original dress.  I didn't realise quite how much it had faded until the new one arrived.

And here's what the new one looks like on me.  It the type of style that I like with a homage to retro.  It's ever so stretchy and I got away with buying a size 12 for the first time in many years.  The cardigan is a newbie too from a Newton Abbot charity shop on Friday.

The second hasn't arrived yet so you'll have to make do with the picture from the Ebay seller.  My original was a £7 sale bargain which has tided me through many smart and casual occasions. It's been a corker.  I love the pattern on the fabric and the neckline.    Not sure if the material degraded on its own or if it was helped by moths but it's recently developed loads of tiny holes.  It'll be lovely to have a pristine version to compare it too

What I'm now wondering is whether I'll finally be fed up of this stuff when it gets worn out again or whether I'll be back again on good old Ebay hunting out identical items yet again!

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Before Mickey

I came across a beautiful little video the other day.  Pretty please I'd like lots of you to follow this link and watch it as I'm unable to embed it in my own blog post.  You won't be disappointed, I promise.  It tells the story of the German animator Lotte Reiniger whose earliest cartoons pre-date those of Disney and it's called 'The Animation Genius You've (Probably) Never Heard Of'. 

No I hadn't.  But as someone who is a bit of a fan of the art of papercutting I'm glad I came across this wonderful homage that is recreated in Reiniger's own style.  It's tempted me to go in search of the original works.  Here's one exquisite example that came out six years before 'That Mouse' made an appearance on the silver screen.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Brixham Crab and a Record Seal Count

Week two of  a restful Sabbath on a Sunday.   After a little lie in I decided to go for a little morning stroll on my ownsome down the Breakwater.  I paused to take  photos.   Such a different day from a week ago.   It was a calm grey morning and the neutrality of the light seemed to pick out the colours of the fishing boats more than usual.

I saw the most seals I've ever spotted.  Here's five of them on the pontoon and there was another two that kept popping up in the water.

At the end of the Breakwater I took an unpromising picture of the jetty that's out of bounds to regular folk.  Quite by chance  in the afternoon I used a special effect on my phone and it was transformed.  I'm rather pleased with my arty accident.

Back to the house for some printmaking whilst Louis shot things on his Xbox.  I finished piercing a polystyrene pizza plate with a skewer a zillion time and got out the ink to see how Crab Mk II would turn out.  I'm much happier with this week's effort.    The nature of the material used makes it look as if this guy is in a sandy rockpool.  

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Pleasant Pheasant

As an omnivore I happen to believe that game is one of the best choices that I can make when it comes to eating meat.  It's reared in the environment organically and even has a bit of a chance of popping its clogs at the end of a long happy life without  the need for human intervention to dispatch it into the afterlife.  So when Jayne, one of our support workers, asked if I'd like some pheasant the other day I jumped at the chance. Her husband is the well loved postie in a rural area and he'd been given a shedload by one of his 'customers'.

Now originally I thought it would arrive complete with feathers, beak and all.  No bad thing I thought.  It would be good for me and Louis to have a sense of where our food came from and pluck the birds.  But in the end I was presented with three prepared breasts in a ziplock bag.  I decided to slow cook it.  'A few chestnuts are nice with it.' suggested Jayne.

And so yesterday Lou and I went on a chestnut hunt.  None in Asda or Morrison's.  Eventually we found some in a very beautiful greengrocers in Totnes at a very beautiful price.  £5.40 for less than a pound in weight.  Bollocks to that!   A 50p can of cannellini beans made a good substitute.  When we arrived home  here's the gist of how quick it was to put together a rather wonderful hearty meal.

In the time it took for us to boil a kettle for a cup of tea and the chicken stock for the casserole I chopped up the pheasant,  six rashers of streaky bacon,  an onion,  a couple of carrots and about four potatoes and popped it all in the pot.  I added the beans and a can of chopped tomatoes, three cloves of  crushed garlic and a good sprinkling of sage.  I topped it up with stock, seasoned it well and popped the cooker on high for an afternoon of cooking.  Done!

About a couple of hours before teatime I made dumplings out of 200g self raising flour, 100g of suet and a good shaking of salt.    I used just enough water to bind the ingredients together by hand and popped dinky little balls of the mixture on top of the bubbling mixture.  The job took all of an extra three minutes.

Twenty minutes before the end of cooking time (about six hours) I removed the stock and boiled it in a saucepan to reduce it.    I added a few peas to the casserole for a contrast in taste but mostly because pretty much any savoury dish looks prettier for a bit of greenery.

No fancy cosmetically enhanced food photos.  Just a picture of a boy enjoying his tucker.  I hope this proves that my quickly prepared winter warmer was entirely successful!