Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Ah. Half term. No classes. Such would be bliss enough. But no! There is more. For I have returned for a few days to the house of my parents. Who have an OVEN, ladies and gentleman, an actual functioning oven which can be used for baking. They also have - wait for it! - baking ingredients in the cupboard. Decent quality ones. Which I haven't paid for.

So, naturally, the list of thing To Do has been thoroughly ignored in favour of baking ginger biscuits. I am usually more of a cake person, but these are truly lovely biscuits. I can't believe I've never had a go at ginger biscuits before. Add to this copious amounts of tea made in an actual tea pot, some hot ginger drink for my cold, a good book and no inconsiderable amount of time listening to the robins chattering to one another outside, and you have a definitively Good Day (TM). This is now being polished with a bowl of homemade soup, after which I shall go into London to meet my mother and wander around a museum, before meeting the rest of the family for a birthday dinner.

Would someone please tell me how today could get any better? Oh yeah, that's right. I've got tomorrow to look forward to, as well. I hope you are enjoying February as much as I am!

Sunday, February 7, 2010


So this week has been a far from perfect week. I've always got that goal in mind - a sustainable, fulfilling and productive week where I haven't (a) pigged out on chocolate; (b) wasted time in front of a computer or tv screen; and (c) otherwise procratinated or failed to achieve. It will take me a while, but I'm just going to take 5 minutes to remind myself of the times this week I had a chopped carrot and some hummus instead of chocolate, of the time I've been spending with friends rather than facebook, and of the few small steps I've made towards my organised and sustainable life.

The most significant is reorganisation. My room is tidy, my bedsheets are clean, my floor is hoovered. I finally tackled the ever-growing 'To Sort' pile, and now my desk consists of one permanent file in the corner, and seven 'To Do' piles. At least now I can sit down with one pile and one coherent task, and not feel I'll get sucked into the vortex.

Most satisfying, on the other hand, is toiletries. I've been interested in DIY toiletries for a while, and I've been experimenting a bit over the last month. I've found a facial moisturiser that is cheap, simple and that my skin is loving. (Not that I'm going to stop experimenting, of course...) Prepare yourself. I am using - glycerine and rose water. I know! Radical. My skin looks clearer, feels softer, and also feels more - spongey is not the word I'm looking for. When you press the skin, it bounces back more resiliently. I've also been using a mixture of honey and sugar as an exfoliator, and it's the loveliest feeling! As I'm using up each product in my bathroom, I'm replacing it with a homemade version rather than a shop-bought.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Happy Imbolc!

Tonight is of course Imbolc, the pagan festival that falls between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. In a perfect world, I'd have had a mahusive party with loads of friends, an array of seasonal (organic, locally produced etc) dishes, candles, a big fire in a fireplace and far too much homemade wine. With that in mind, I made a Moroccan dish with lamb and apricots cooked in orange juice, honey and cinnamon. De-licious.

Imbolc is a time for creativity and inspiration, and I have been very creative in the past week. Coming up soon will be details of the range of home-made toiletries I've been making, but the highlight of today was making hummus for the first time. It worked! I made HUMMUS! And it tastes NICE! And I made it the low-tech way - almost every recipe I found basically ran, "Step 1. Place the ingredients in a food processor. Step 2. Blend until smooth." I used a potato-masher-thing. It worked surprisingly well, and my hummus has a delightfully rustic, homemade texture to it. Definitely one to repeat! I also added some cumin and coriander for extra flavour, but I was a bit too careful. I think I need to be more daring with the spices next time.

Other creative projects currently on the go:
  • A crochet blanket. Not particularly fancy or complex, but something comforting for my bluesy days.
  • Valentine's Day cards for my lovely, lovely friends who should really be told that they are beautiful people more regularly.
  • Crochet flowers for keyrings, and other simple demos for the crochet workshops I am setting up this month.
  • A bookmark for my mother's birthday. Don't tell her. I made her one last year and it got lost in the post (Sod's law!) so I plan to make another this year, and supplement it with a book. And maybe a cake. You can never go wrong with a cake.
  • Many additional crafts are in the UK awaiting my return - including a couple of simple, beginner's dress-making patterns and my mother's sewing machine, the Cath Kidston 'Sew!' book which I am dying to get started on, and many other brilliant books of recipes, patterns and crafty ideas. (Soapmaking and churning butter are on the list...)


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