Thursday, 8 July 2010

Things I Love Thursday

Driving lessons – Never thought I'd be putting this down on a TILT! I’ve been taking driving lessons on and off since I was 17 and I’m at it again. I’m enjoying my lessons so far and am feeling much calmer than I have on previous occasions. Part of this is due to my instructor. A friend of a friend I knew it was going to be alright when I saw the ‘Total Guitar’ magazine stickers all over his diary.

Being nearly an auntie – My sister is nearly at her due date which means Auntie-type duties could commence anytime now. As a plus my parents are going to be staying with me just before and after the birth. Given that we live some distance apart and so don’t get to see each other much this is definite plus.

New job – I have been in my new job for just over a week and things are very fine indeed. Ok I’m still getting my head together, working out all the bits the role involves and writing massive job lists.

Other stuff – Bud, exercise, Supernatural, the unexpected, Spinach, high heeled shoes, thing that turn out to be easier than expected, Porn star martinis, hummus, Kid Rock.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Things I Love Thursday

Jeans that fit – I have huge problems finding jeans that fit me. I spend hours trying on jeans in charity shops trying to find a pair that fits me. Hence I was delighted to find not one but two pairs of jeans that fitted me today. I’m so excited at the prospect of wearing them.

New stuff to read- I am awash with exciting new things to read. In the last week I have enjoyed a two Jeffry Deaver novels and a Kathy Reichs. In my pile waiting to be devoured are the new Hester Browne, a Gavin Lyall, a Cory Doctorow, a Peter James and the new Scarlett Thomas, Our Tragic Universe. I am in book heaven.

Vegan doughnuts – I had heard rumours that the Cop had vegan doughnuts but I needed to read the label before committing. I was so pleased to find a packet with an actual ingredients label. These taste so good and provide a delightful flashback to my student days when I consumed large quantities of doughnuts, quavers and Caramels.

Making crazy videos for Youtube – we often record our jam nights and stick the best/most interesting/most amusing bits on Youtube. Somehow I always seem to avoid appearing on camera, but not on Friday night. As well as footage of me playing bass (and actually looking like I might be enjoying it) there is the Laura Palmer song inspired by watching hours of Twin Peaks on DVD.

Other stuff - Underground rebel bingo, plotting trips to Brighton with Dear Heart, Homeopathic remedies, making job lists, clearing out, feeling in tune with life, long drinks of cold water.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

What's in my lunchbox this week?

This has been such a good lunch. Rice is really filling and I love the increased variety in fresh produce as the summer approaches.

Clockwise from top right:

Tofu - cold raw tofu sprinkled with nori powder. I was planning to cook the tofu then I stumbled across a branch of Whole Foods in London on Friday. Their salad bar had a huge tub of fresh tofu that jsut looked delicious.

Radishes and steamed Asparagus

Onigiri - I've made versiosn of these before but was inspired this time by a recipe in the Guardian Family supplement.

Lettuce and home grown spinach

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Things I Love Thursday

Rockin’ in a free world – I’ve always loved this song. I’ve recently learned to play in on the bass, heard a pub band play a great version at the weekend and get to jam it tonight.

Homemade falafel – I don’t know why I’ve never bothered to do these before. The dough was simple to make in the Vitamix but I reckon it wouldn’t have been too difficult by hand. They taste amazing. Mass produced store bought ones are so dry.

A new book by Scarlett Thomas – It’s so exciting to walk into a bookshop and find something telling you that there is new book by one of your favourite authors being published in a few weeks. I rarely buy books but will certainly be purchasing Our terrible universe on 20th May.

Other good stuff - Vegan Thai red curry, white wine, great customer service from Marks and Spencer, water, Cool Hand Luke (what we’ve got here is failure to communicate), election madness.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Things I Love Thursday

My job – I’m really enjoying my work right now. The tasks are interesting and my colleagues are fabulous.

Allotment produce – Everything is coming on really well except from the Radishes. Having allotment buddies this year has made such a difference.

The election – It’s been a big topic of discussion at work and you’ve just got to love the wackier parties. I’m quite taken with CURE and the New Millennium Bean Party as outlined in this piece on the BBC website on the more unusual election pledges.

Twin Peaks – I’ve been waiting what seems like forever for Season two of Twin Peaks to be released on DVD. I spent a chunk of last weekend watching part of it and it’s even better than I remember.

Cryptic Crosswords – I’m starting to get to grips with these and just find them so satisfying. Quite good for learning new words and bits of trivia too.

Other stuff – playing bass, learning new songs, warmer weather, lunch in the park, Melissa shoes, Lush products, tofu, sleeping well, BBQs in the garden followed by attic jam sessions.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

What I wore 28th April 2010

The warmer weather has given me the excuse to dig out one of my favourite summer dresses.

Black dress with mushroom pattern - made from a vintage skirt

Black cardigan - Gap

Spider necklace - Alchemy

Woven belt - charity shop

Black cotton tights - Boots

Melissa Night V flock shoes - Bourgeois Boheme

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

What's in my lunchbox this week?

The first bit of produce from the allotment this growing seasons inspired my lunchbox for this week. I'm also thrilled that things like Aspargus and Watercress are coming into season. It seems to have been a long carrot/apple/pear filled winter.

Clockwise, from top left:

Home made cupcake (vegan) with chilli chocolate flakes and baked rhubarb from the allotment.

Purple sprouting Broccoli on a bed of spinach, both from the allotment. The dressing is home made vegan mayo mixed with lemon juice and chili flakes. Inspired by a recipe in Rose Eliot's Vegetarian Supercook.

Watercress - not from the allotment obviously

Asparagus and sun dried tomato frittata from the Vegan with a Vengance cookbook. I should have used firmer tofu to stop it falling apart but it tastes great anyway.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Things I Love Thursday

Being surrounded by friends, lunch at the sushi bar, keeping up via Facebook, smoothies made in the Vitamix, the return of my cooking and sewing mojo, white wine, tofu madness, jamming, having an excuse to wear sunglasses, vegan Haribo, vegan hot cross buns (thank you M&S), cryptic crosswords, the prospect of a lie in, home made vegan pizza, green bass leads.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Things I Love Thursday

Curry filled birthday celebrations, massage, playing bass and feeling like a rock star, vegan chocolate, making a conscious effort to relax, good news for friends, enthusiasm, being back in control, hair cuts, being in tune with friends, Grapefruit juice, stretching, big sunglasses with green frames, being invited out for lunch, my phone, knowing you are wanted, vitamix solutions, sleep.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Watch my hands

On Sunday I went for my annual visit to the Vitality Show with Mimi. Last year’s show wasn’t brilliant stall wise but the talks, workshops and demonstrations were good on the whole.

This year our plan was to get there for 11am so that we could go to a hula hoping workshop. Our plans were somewhat challenged due to non-running trains and a bus replacement service. After looking a number of different routes and taking in account Sunday bus services we finally hit upon one that would get us there on time.

All was going well. The weather was good. The buses were running on time. Then our train didn’t move for an hour due to an accident. We arrived at the vitality Show an hour and half later than anticipated.

The show wasn’t particularly good. There seemed to be fewer stands than in previous years. There were no Nairs Oatcakes, Redwood foods, Colour Me Beautiful or Lara bars. We were totally ignored at the Black Tower wine stand (maybe we looked to young to buy alcohol!).

On the plus side lunch was amazing. We’d been planning to take a packed lunch as food at these venues is often fatty and overpriced. As a result we were thrilled with the selection on offer at the Crussh. The Japanese Noodle Salad was just the kind of food I wanted to eat and the price was very reasonable.

We always make a point of having a massage and this year tried seated Zen shiatsu. I found it quite relaxing. I was pleased to be told afterwards that all my major organs were in good shape (apparently you can tell from checking pressure points). The guy also told me that I carry all my stress in my hands.

I’m inclined to think he has a point here. My hands do have a tendency to shake if I am very nervous or stressed. Or they become very cold. My Belly Dance teacher is always telling me to relax my hands.

The big question is how do I relax my hands and will this reduce my stress levels? Or do I need to reduce my stress levels and this will relax my hands?

The day must have done us some good. We both felt more ‘vital’ than usual on Monday morning.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

What's in my lunchbox this week?

I’ve been trying to shake off a bug that been doing the rounds. Consequently lunch this week contains lots of garlic since I vaguely recall reading somewhere that garlic is good for that type of thing. In any case it all tastes delicious.

Clockwise from top right:

Mushrooms – this is Sautéed mushrooms and green beans from VwaV minus the green beans. I thought afterwards that I could have subbed broccoli but it does fine by itself. I will make this loads in the summer if I ger a good bean crop.

Kale – Garlicky Kale with Tahini dressing from VwavV. I added some Kombu I had lying around to make it more delicious. It did. I love this and could eat bowlfuls of it. The dressing I added to the potatoes instead of the Kale.

Boiled potatoes with Tahini dressing. I don’t usually bother with dressings but I’m finding more enthusiasm for them. The Vitamix helps with this as well.

Rhubarb – baked Rhubarb with a bit of homemade apple flapjack sprinkled over the top.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Things I Love Thursday

More joy in the abundance of my life in the past week:
Just asking (with the expectation of receiving), water and lots of it, looking good on film, having a fridge full of interesting food, sunshine, exchanging amusing text messages, light at the end of the tunnel, getting our first seeds planned for this year’s vegetable crop, having dinner prepared for me, contemplating the difference between English punk and American punk, making excellent vegan chocolate cupcakes with choc mousse filling, Dear Heart actually eating two of said cupcakes, winter warmers, desk tidying, planning for music festivals, tuning your instrument, bagels, the sweet of flowering bulbs just outside the bedroom, the sweetness of friends when you feel poorly.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Things I Love Thursday

Making stuff in the Vita–mix (even if it does scare me), Remoska – perfect bread, dancing, music, Lost on DVD, planning which seeds to plant and dreaming of summer abundance, Massage anticipation, realising that it might just be OK, home made pizza.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

What's in my lunchbox this week?

A week with nothing from Vwav and no white cabbage! What happened? It’s simple –the vita-mix has arrived. I’m completely terrified of it and attempting to overcome this fear by blending anything that happens to by lying around the fridge.

Clockwise form top left:
Apple – no vita-mixing involved.
Brussels Sprouts – no vita-mixing involved.
Parsnip, sweetcorn and vegan mayo – the parsnips were ground pretty much to sawdust in the Vita-mix. The mayo was whipped up in the Vita-mix using soya milk. I didn’t add as much oil as I should be I suitably impressed to be thinking that I’ll be making my own mayo from now on.
Rice with Cashew cheese sauce – this is a mix of a recipe from the Vita-mix cookbook and the garden of Vegan. The alarming colour is due to a roasted red pepper. It tastes good if not amazing. One to play around with a bit.

I haven’t abandoned Vwav entirely. I shall be making vegan cupcakes for a gathering at the weekend and have a recipe in mind for lunch next week. By then I may have got to grips with my fear of the fierce sounding motor.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Things I Love Thursday

Random people on Penny Farthings, sun dried tomatoes, pancakes that turn out eatable, potato wedges made in the Remoska, overhearing someone rapping to his mates (and thinking about literary theory), Indian Head massage, good relaxing sleep, Silken tofu, Lost on DVD, Raw mushroom sandwiches, the smell of hyacinths in the kitchen, Desk diaries blog, reading the manual.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

What's in my lunchbox this week?

Much as I like tofu I’ve always been a bit suspicious of silken tofu. It’s blancmange like texture and tendency to crumble (in a sloppy manner) put me off. Well Vwav has changed all that. I now appreciate the wonders of vacuum packed tofu. In fact I’m feeling generally inspired by the wonders of tofu.

Clockwise from top right:

Carrot sticks
White cabbage – this should be the last week to feature the giant cabbage I bought a while back
Sun dried tomato frittata – Made using a recipe from Vwav. Much easier than I expected and much tastier. Definite remake.
Apple – I bought these enormous apples at the weekend. It’s been quite a challenge to fit one in the laptop lunchbox.

Monday, 15 February 2010

The mysterious case of the missing maternity clothes

Life can just be so perplexing at times.

I’m expecting to become an auntie in the summer. So as a first time auntie to be who wants to support the first time mother to be I offered to by her some maternity clothes.

I’ve always liked the look of those maternity capsule wardrobe and did offer one of these initially. However after a bit of discussion the high street was deemed perfectly acceptable (especially if the shop was linked with Kidstart). Buying online is easy but being unfamiliar with maternity wear I thought I’d best go and check out the items in the flesh so to speak.

So at lunchtime I headed off. My destination was M&S but as my route passed Bhs I decided to pop in their and have a look at the Dorothy Perkins section which has just moved into the front of the store.

As I teenager I perpetually would find a garment I totally adored in Dorothy Perkins only to discover it was actually from the maternity range. Consequently I had high hopes. Well they were dashed when I couldn’t actually find any maternity wear. Then again the whole section was a bit of a mess. Wallis has recently taken up residence in Bhs too and the section seemed to be mixed up. Another issue was a range of clothes with a W and threaded needle on the label. I began to wonder if this was some kind of clever reference to something but then realised that it was actually a Bhs range. I stumbled around for a while and then off to M&S.

Stumble being the correct word. Had I thought it through I might have chosen a day that wasn’t the start of half term to venture into the shops. So trying not to tread on small people and avoiding being mown down by buggies and teenagers on skateboards I headed to reliable old M&S.

Alas I experienced the same problem. I just couldn’t find any maternity wear. I had lots of false hits. Current fashions for tunic tops and jumpers dresses fit right in with my concept of maternity wear. Likewise there seem to be a lot of skirts and trousers with elastic at the waist. However not a single one of these was labelled maternity.

So is maternity wear just not labelled anymore? Is it only available in stores at certain times of year? Do all expectant mothers just buy online?

I suppose I’ll have to either buy unseen or go to Mothercare.

Friday, 12 February 2010

What I read this week

Primal – Robin Baker
First thing anyone needs to know about this book – it’s awash with naked bodies and sex. Look past that and the inevitable comparisons with Lost and you’re onto some gripping fiction. The story of students stranded on an island when a field trip goes wrong is essentially told by an author (the actual author appearing as himself!) writing a book about the events. What makes it interesting is the different voices that appear in the narrative based on where his information from. While wondering what will happen next as a reader you are also questioning how true any sequence of the events is. The main characters (including the author) all have their reasons for manipulating the truth. Unfortunately this means that focus is on just a handful of individuals and the rest of the characters are a little on the generic side. I found that as time went on I disliked most of the characters but wanted to know more about their experiences. The descriptions of life on the island and the break down of social mores were interesting but I think the author’s background in sexual biology coloured his perspective. This is definitely worth a look at and make sure you don’t have anything else on when you start reading – you won’t be able to put it down.

Lost – Chris Jordan
Nothing to do with the TV series. A fairly standard crime novel story about a kidnapping and Private Investigator/consultant. What really made this was the characters. The telling is intriguing. Most of it is in third person. Big chunks are told in first person by Jane, the mother of the kidnapped girl. I liked Jane. What makes this nvoel more intriguing is that pretty much everything we know about the consultant, ex- FBI Randall Shane we learn through Jane with occasional bits from the third person. This distance increases his mystery. Parts of his story are fascinating. Like his inability to sleep when stressed. Other bits, such as his back story and nearly retirement seem more usual. It looks like this one of a series of book featuring Shane Randall. I’m wondering f the same style of narrative is used. I can see it’s a great way of humanising characters who would only appear in that book while keeping our main man suitably interesting.

A dance in time – Orna Ross
I’m only about fifth of the way through this. There are several story lines. One is around Izzy and her daughter, Star. The reader is learning something of Izzy’s life story with commentary from Star. Then there is another strand around Maud Gonne. It took me a while to get into it despite the early introduction of tension and mystery (Was Izzy responsible for her father’s death?). I always see it as a good sign when I find I am thinking about a book while not reading it so I think I’ve been success drawn in. The writing is well crafted and there is a clear change in style between the two stories. No idea where the plot might be heading so that means that just like real life it’s not predictable either.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Things I Love Thursday

Conveyor belt sushi, beer festivals, unbirthdays, wonderful friends, playing bass, compliments, red wine, Vwav, green nail polish, gripping novels, Postcard bags with ribbon straps, new notebooks, family, escape, blue skies, green stars, reminding myself not to worry, stretches before bed, Kettle the cat, future plans, ticking off jobs lists

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

What's in my lunchbox this week?

I’m beginning to wonder what I’ll do when I worked my way right through Vwav. Go back to the start and go again?

I bought cauliflower this week with the intention of either making the recipe that appeared in the Meat Out Monday email or just steaming the cauliflower. Then I thought I’d just have a little peep in Vwav and the die was cast.

Clockwise from top right:
*Steamed Brussels Sprouts
*Unsalted Cashews nuts and a piece of dark chocolate
*Cauliflower Kugel – I did a little playing around with the recipe for this (Isa would be proud). I skipped the leeks (didn’t have any) and subbed wheat germ for Matzos and ground almonds for whole roasted. It’s so good I had to resist going home and eating the whole pot. Bet it would be great with roast potatoes and gravy.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Celebrate whenever you like

My birthday is on a ridiculous day. It’s so close to New Year and Christmas that everyone is partied out. Celebrations as a result tend to be a little on the half hearted side. I also know that it’s usually the last day before going back to work and facing up to January.

This year I made the decision to hold off on celebrating until the first weekend in February. By a rather marvellous coincidence this turned out to be the same weekend as a local beer festival.

The result – a wonderful afternoon and evening with friends. The atmosphere at the festival was great. Everyone had been looking forward to getting together. No one felt under pressure to do anything. The selection of drinks on offer was suitable varied even to please the non-beer drinkers.

As a bonus I also felt less need to actually celebrate on the date of my birthday. This made for a relaxed day which actually lead to celebrating with a couple of neighbours.

It’s totally clear to me. Bah to old fashioned traditions of actually celebrating your birth on the day of the year you were born. Unbirthday celebrations are the way forward.

Friday, 5 February 2010

What I read this week

Weekend newspapers
Amazingly our paperboy managed to deliver a paper on Friday (The Times), Saturday (Saturday Guardian) and Sunday (The Sunday Times). Usually there is a problem with at least one of the deliveries. It’s taken me most of the week to work my way through the various sections. I’ve been enjoying some really good pieces covering Fat fashion blogging, Blair’s appearance at the Chilcot enquiry and the dress code for Tesco customers.

Lit riffs – edited by Matthew Miele
A collection of short stories inspired by songs. It’s taken me all week to work through this because the stories are all so different. I think this is because the only link the stories have to one another is that they are inspired by a song. Hence I’ve found it difficult to rush on and read the next story without stopping to think about and digest the one just read. Some are surreal. Some have a moral point to make. Others just capture a little snippet of life. It’s great if you know the music that was the inspiration, but they read perfectly well if you don’t. It’s got me thinking, if I was asked to write a story inspired by a song which one would I choose?

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Things I Love Thursday

Melissa shoes – I’ve always been told a bargain is only a bargain if you were going to buy it anyway. Well, I’d planned on buying some Melissa shoes from Bourgeois Boheme at the end of January. I was pretty chuffed to discover that they shoes I wanted where in their sale. I was even more chuffed when they arrived yesterday. They fit perfectly, are comfortable and look great. That’s my summer shoe needs taken care of then.

Environmentally sound packing and packaging – My Remoska and shoes mentioned above both came with paper based wrappings. Easy to recycle. None of this nonsense about putting it in a plastic bag for no apparent reason.

Waking up feeling relaxed – I slept really well on Saturday night and woke up without achy shoulders or tense muscles. It was a great night of sleep. I put I down to a combination of bass playing and red wine.

Other stuff -Playing Bass, vegan sushi, Whisky at the Cro Bar, seeing my niece/nephew 2B on the baby scanner machine thingy, making a summer skirt from two t-shirts, cooking in the Remoska, music, Vwav, tofu.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

What's in my lunchbox this week?

My obsession with Vwav continues. I understanding now why so many Vegan bloggers go on about it. It’s making me a less lazy cook (some of the time anyway) as it’s as much effort to follow a Vwav recipe as do something random. Also it seems to use ingredients that I already have.

Clockwise from top right:
Raw white cabbage – yes it’s back!
Italian marinated tofu – from Vwav and totally divine
Cream crackers and vegan cake – guess which one used a Vwav recipe? I intended to do pasta to go with the tofu but the crunch of the cracker goers well against the softer tofu.
Rhubarb – Gently compoted with no added anything.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

This week I have been reading

Green is the new black – Tasmin Blanchard
I’ve flicked through this a few times in bookshops so when I saw it on the library shelf I decided it was time to read it all the way through. My opinions on it are mixed. I think it’s trying to appeal to a lot of different audiences. I related to a few bits, like where the author talks about lying on the floor drawing around herself to make a dress and wanting to get a new creations done as quickly as possible. I got a few new things out of it – mainly online stores that offer ‘green’ products. I wanted a bit more information about things like how long it takes knicker elastic to break down and what the alternatives might be. Also surprised there was no mention of Lush.

My thoughts on first seeing this book is that I probably wouldn’t get anything new out of it. I think they were pretty much correct. Good for those just starting to look at green living. The website/blog that goes with it is worth a look

Freakonomics – Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt
One of the things this book keeps going on about is the lack of unifying themes to Levitt’s work. This is made abundantly clear by the way the book leaps around from topic to topic. In general I like the way subject that seem unrelated are bought together. However it is a bit exhausting at times. This is quite a quick read so to have so many different things happening can get confusing. I also wanted to stop the author at times and ask for more information on a subject that he dashes past. I assume the topics covered where a result of information that Levitt had to work with which might be why there is an emphasis in certain areas. I didn’t feel quite as inspired as I did at the end of The Tipping Point, but this was definitely worth a look.

Wedlock: How Georgian Britain’s worse husband met his match – Wendy Moore
I’m only part of the way through this but finding it very moreish. The characters really come to life. Moore includes some excellent snippets. There’s the bit about the cottage industry that gossip was in Georgian England with informants being able to deliver their new directly to the printers. Makes Hello/Grazia/Etc sound a bit dull. Also thrilled to hear that Fox (a leader of the Whig party) was so indulged as a child that he was allowed to sit astride a joint of meat on the table at a dinner party. I’m going to order The Knifeman: blood, body snatching and the birth of modern surgery from the library at once.

Things I Love Thursday

Non-fiction – I’m just not in the mood for reading fiction at the moment. So I went to the library and borrowed a stack of non-fiction. Also enjoying Fiendish sudoku. Stretching my mind and challenging my thoughts is good.

Remoska – a sort of mini oven type thing. Efficient on power, easy to clean and taking up a tiny amount of space in the pantry. The food in it tastes marvellous too.

Sewing –I’ve been spending Saturday afternoons working through sewing projects. It’s good to move on projects that I’ve had hanging around for a while and it’s making me get creative too.

Other stuff – Melissa shoes, belly dancing, red wine, tea, vegan cupcakes, mobile twitter, wearing more than one pair of socks, being needed.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Under the influence

I’ve always been uncertain about celebrity endorsement. It reminds me of the warrior eating the heart of an animal s/he has killed in order to gain their strength.

Ok when I was 12 or 13 I bought Wrigley’s gum and Pepsi (not coke) because my favourite band of the time used those products. Not many years down the line really from wanting something (anything!) because it had a care bear or a My Little Pony on it. While I can be smug about not buying the signature scent of some model/actress/pop star type, if I at little closer at what steers me towards things I have no doubt that some kind celebrity endorsement would turn up.

If fact there are many things that I have taken up because I think the person in question is cool and I wish to emulate them. The difference is that these people aren’t particularly famous. I read a lot of blogs and I can see that I’ve been turned onto certain things through these blogs. I started looking into Melissa shoes after reading Vintage Vivant. I wanted a laptop lunchbox after reading Vegan Lunchbox (and the now defunct Vegan lunchcast). I found myself wearing shorter skirts after reading What I Wore. So I what I eat and wear is influenced by these people. I want to be like them. Presumably by blogging about my own life I want readers to think I’m cool and potentially to take up the activities or products I mention.

It’s like being influenced by your big brother’s friends or idolising your glamorous auntie. The only difference is that you don’t know these people. Well, I don’t know these people but I am sufficiently taken with what I know of them to believe that my life would be better if I just had a little piece of them.

Of course these people aren’t endorsing products in the same way that celebrities do. They are simply sharing their way of life and the things that get them through the day. There is a big difference between sharing your love of refashioning and deliberately promoting products. I believe Gala Darling refer to this as ‘gay for pay’.

What I find a teeny bit worrying is that I think I’m an individual and work at not being sheeplike. Either I’m less original than I think I am or individuality is built from tiny bits of other people. Is that what being your own brand is? Or is this just part of an ‘act as if’ approach? Or do I just have too much time to think?

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

What's in my lunchbox this week?

Subtitle: 50% inspired by Vegan with a vengeance or the one without white cabbage.

White cabbage would have certainly appeared in this box along with some rice or noodles but my allotment intervened. One of my new allotment buddies while clearing a patch at the weekend discovered hidden treasure. The form of this treasure? A row of Parsnips that I vaguely recall planting but assumed had never come up. A consultation of Vwav and one ancient hand mincer later and lunch had changed course…

Clockwise from top right:
Steamed Brussels sprouts – the love affair with my favourite vegetable continues.
Balsamic glazed mushrooms – from Vwav. So good. I’m finding it hard to keep these for lunch and resist snacking on them.
Parsnip and Scallion pancakes – I’m not wild about the very sweet taste of parsnips but these are ok. Very easy to make. Obviously better hot and fresh but perfectly edible cold. Think I’ll through some chillies in the mix next time to offset the sweetness.
Pear and a little tub of BBQ sauce to go with the pancakes.

Friday, 22 January 2010

This week I have been reading

Crow Stone – Jenni Mills
It’s hard to describe this one too much without giving the plot away. Let me simply say that the story moves back and forth between the past and the present and that some elements between these collide. A number of secrets are hinted at. The main character seems so honest but clearly is hiding things and on several occasions does things that seem stupid or underhand.
While some aspects were a bit predictable I found the mix of subplots fascinating. In fact I became much more interested in these than in what was presumably the main plot. Generally speaking it read in a very true to life way. I could really relate to the teenagers and their desire to be grown up. This is a first novel so I’ll keep an eye out for more from this author.

The Rose Labyrinth – Titania Hardie
This is much too long. I love a good secret manuscript hidden treasure story as much as the next person. What I found hard to take here were how complex the ‘clues’ were. Also having struggled through I couldn’t quite see what the point was supposed to be.

I also found the John Dee connection a bit difficult to swallow. Maybe because I’ve read a couple of things that details Dees’ life and suggest that he was duped by Kelley? So I found the character’s belief in him a bit naïve. Otherwise everyone seems to know all about equinoxes and the symbolism of roses.

Maybe there was just a bit too much crammed in for this to work. Pity.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Things I Love Thursday

Allotment buddies – I’ve teamed up with a couple, of friends who live nearby to work on my allotment. They want to get started in gardening and I have a plot that is too big for me so we’re both happy. We got loads done in an hour on Sunday so the outlook for the new growing season is very good indeed.

Dancing – I’ve been really enjoying my belly dancing class on Monday nights. The teacher works us really hard but I come home feeling great.

Clearing out – My thoughts last year that the best thing to do clothes wise would be to keep everything and buy nothing. However I often acquire clothes as gifts or hand-ons. I also have been holding onto things that I’m never going to wear because they are the wrong shape or colour for me. I could refashion them but why cut up a piece of perfectly good new clothing? Instead I’m having a major clear out. I’m familiar with my tastes and know that my style goes in cycles over several years. Less items in my wardrobe mean that I will be able to enjoy and use the clothes I do have better and it doesn’t mean that I have an excuse to buy more stuff. More space feels good. Appreciating what I have feels good.

Other good stuff - Baking powder biscuits, fruit, Melissa shoes, exercise, vegan pizza with chilli oil, balancing the books, stuff disappearing immediately on Freecycle, solving sudoku, hot water bottles, Sunday night home cooked dinner with friends.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

The big magazine swap

I sometimes look back on my life so far and recall the magazine that I read during a certain time. Starting with Twinkle, then onto Princess, Tracey and Bunty. My next life stage was ‘guided’ by ‘music’ publications like smash Hits and teen titles like Just Seventeen.

My first year at university saw me reading Cosmopolitan with real enthusiasm for the glamorous 1990s world of being feminist and feminine. Then I dropped that to pursue the grunge of NME and Melody Maker.

A few years later I was enjoying Good Housekeeping and clipping recipes and tips to go with my first mortgage.

Then a need to have change for the bus lead me to buy pretty much every glossy under the sun for a year or two until I tired of tacky free gifts and recycled articles.

I rarely buy magazines now. I subscribe to Easy Living although the quality of content is a bit uneven. I buy Bass Guitar Magazine. I have more money in my pockets and less desire to buy expensive face creams.

I was discussing with Mimi of Little Sips of Tea whether I should renew my Easy Living subscription or not. A couple of glasses of Expresso Martini later (it was NYE) and a plan was hatched.

We decided that during 2010 we would buy each other a magazine every month. It can be any magazine as long as you think it will be of interest. Today we did our first swap. I managed to mess things up by failing to take mine along but am working to remedy that.

Mimi has given me the January/February issue of Sew Hip! to read. My review and thoughts will follow in a later post.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

What's in my lunchbox this week?

I’m really into rice at present so it’s making an appearance in my lunchbox for the second week in a row. The white cabbage is obviously looking to set some kind of record for an unbroken run of appearances.

Clockwise from top right

Apples – In order to fit most of an apple into my lunchbox some pieces had to ‘ride’ in with the rice. Still taste delicious though.
White cabbage – raw, see previous weeks. Head does seem to finally look as if I may finish it at some point in the not too distant future.
Brussels Sprouts – Lightly steamed and served cold. So good.
Brown rice and lentil with peanut and ginger sauce – I had a slight cold and thought something with a bit of spicy ginger would be just the trick. Alas I can’t find the original recipe I at some point in the past. Going back through previous blog entries has been no help. All I can recall was that I made it in a mini blender and used pickled ginger. I’m wondering if it was in a book I have since returned to the library. Anyway my approximation of it tastes just fine.

Monday, 18 January 2010

But do I actually wear it?

I was rather taken with the post over at House of Mirth asking sewers if they wore what they made.

It’s unusual for me not to be wearing something that I either made or altered in some way. However I must confess things don’t’ always go according to plan.

I make from fabric I have in my stash or buy up roll ends. Consequently I tend to think what a piece of fabric could become rather than what gaps I have in my wardrobe that need filling. So it was only as I began to turn a long pink skirt into a short wrap skirt with frills that I stopped to think that I rarely wear pink or frills and consequently a great deal of future wear seemed unlikely.

I get carried away. I don’t very often follow patterns. I think I’ve been influenced by the punk school of clothing construction and refashioning. After all if it doesn’t work out I can always make it into something else. Even if I start off following a pattern I’ll add some twist to it. Which is great. When it works out. Otherwise it goes back in the stash until I can face solving whatever problems my embellishments have created.

I can’t wait to wear my creation. So rather than do the prep and then leave it until I have time to work on it more I rush through bodging bits right, left and centre and then having to find a way to cover them up. So lots of unpicking, refitting and extra work.

Looking on the bright side:

No piece of fabric is wasted. Really ugly stuff lines bags. Scraps join crazy patchwork or get plaited.

If I find something that works I’ll make it again and again.

I’ve started to see that less is more when it comes to alterations.

I’m intending to work through my stash and unfinished projects this year doing a little every weekend.

Friday, 15 January 2010

This week I have been reading

The Godfather – Mario Puzo
I only got around to seeing the film last year. There are so many films that I’ve just never got around to seeing. 2009 was also the year that I saw the Rocky movies for the first time ever. Anyway I was curious to see what the book was like and I was not disappointed. The film is very true to the book. There are only a couple of changes and they are done in the spirit. Somewhat bizzarely I found myself thinking about how I could apply the ways of working and relationships in the book to my own life. I don’t mean that I’m going to start taking hits on people or making them an offer they can’t refuse. I’m thinking more about the emphasis that is put on investing in friendship simply for the sake of it. When you put something into your community you will reap rewards even in indirect ways. So reading about violent mafia hoods has made me want to be kinder to the people around me which can’t be a bad thing.

All in the mind – Alastair Campbell
I didn’t know what to expect from this but I now await his next novel, Maya which is published at the start of next month. This was a really moving book. Parts of it were very difficult. You experienced the agonies of the characters. But you found yourself actually interested in how the characters developed. I cried at times. Sometimes because I felt so full of hope after reading certain passages. I love novels that make me feel inspired and make me think. This makes you think about your own mental health and attitudes. The ending was also totally unexpected.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Things I Love Thursday

*People – I’m lucky to know some really wonderful people. Talking with them and making plans reminds me that friendship is the most important thing in the world.

*focusing on what you’re doing – I first read Feel the fear and do it anyway years back but the ideas that I got from that first reading have stayed with me to draw on. I remembered that really focusing on the task in hand makes whatever you are doing more enjoyable. Consequently I’ve been getting a great deal of satisfaction out of what I’ve been doing over the last few days. The work itself isn’t necessarily that fascinating – it’s the mindset that counts.

Other stuff – dyeing clothes emerald green, the time being ripe, dilligaf, Tattoos, hot drinks, Lush soaps, resisting the urge to shop, The Godfather, using it up and wearing it out, plotting lunches and unbirthdays, things never being as bad as you think, hot toddies, layers and layers of clothing, compliments, belly dancing, Friday night jams.

And remember your life is what your thoughts make it.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

My cures for the January blues

As much as I look forward to the fresh start a year represents it only takes a few weeks for me to realise that there is no such thing as new. There is always baggage. Your job and the rest of your life are still there waiting for you after Christmas. The things that you found annoying, irritating and downright unbearable did not vanish in a puff of glitter while you were eating vegan mince pies.

Furthermore you’ll have forgotten all the coping strategies that you had in place to get you through the day. You know, the routines that you abandoned sometime after Halloween on the grounds that the festive season was here.

So these are what I’m doing this January to remind me that there is more than the 9-5 grind.

They might not do it for you. You might not feel blue in January. But currently they are working for me.

Get out
Force yourself to leave your place of work every lunchtime. Even if it’s only for 15 minutes. Walk, breathe deeply, look around you, find out what’s down that side road you’ve always wondered about. Go out even if it’s snowing or raining. It breaks up your day, get your blood circulating and remind you that you are free.

Get a stack of books
Go to your nearest library and get a pile of books that you really like the look of. Some libraries are better at displaying tempting titles than others. If you really can’t find anything you like visit a bookshop, make a note of the titles they have on display that you fancy and then ask your library for them. Take your mound of books away and delight in the escape to other places that awaits you. Relish the excuse to wrap yourself up in a big blanket and read the long booze free evenings away. Congratulate yourself on what you’ve picked up for free. Make a note of the return date on your diary or calendar and pat yourself on the back for being well organised.

Shop with caution
Even if you are not overdrawn spending loads of cash on the sales will not make you feel less blue. If you are shopping for essentials in your lunch hour make a list and buy one item each day of the week. You’ll feel less inclined to throw all kinds of sale odds and ends into the basket. In fact, don’t even pick up a basket. You’re only buying one item. Why do you need a basket? Feel smug at not being sucked into buying yet more nonsense in the sales.

Start to plan ahead
Make a list of birthdays and other events over the coming year that will require presents and cards. Do one for next Christmas while you are at it. Make a note in your diary to check list at regular intervals. Begin to write in ideas for presents. Only buy presents that you spot in the sale if (a) they will not date and (b) you have storage space for them. While you’re at it plan meals and clothes for the next few days. Feel proud at your ability to take control of your life.

Whatever you are doing, focus totally on it. Don’t be tempted to put it off. Get it done and move on to the next thing. There’s nothing like a sense of completion to chip away at the blues.

Sleep well
I find that I sleep better if I do a few minutes of gentle yoga before bed. Nothing fancy. Some stretches, a roll down or two. If I still can’t sleep I make plans in my head or think positive thoughts. Or dig out some of that pulse point oil that you got for Christmas a year or two back, apply and breathe deeply.

Have an incentive for getting up
The thing that gets me out of bed in the morning is knowing that I will be plunging my feet into be warm slipper boots and that I can have a chunk of Lush emotibomb in the shower if I think I really need it. Relish the though that you already know what you are going to wear and have the days meals already in hand.

I find that talking to friends even if it’s only to moan makes me feel so much better. It’s good to know that you have people who feel that same as you. It’s good to make plans for the future. It’s good to recall later in the day people you spoke with earlier and know that you are not alone on this planet.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

What's in my lunchbox this week?

I’m still working my way through the bowling ball sized white cabbage I bought some weeks back. Last week I discovered by accident how good raw cabbage tastes when served with something hot. I decided to make this the basis for my lunchbox this week.

Clockwise from top right:

Basmati rice – delicious cold but just a quick blast in the microwave from being piping hot!
Dried figs and dark chocolate – I love this combination. The different textures and sweet flavours compliment each other perfectly.
Carrot and Cashew fans – This recipe came from The Vegetarian. It should contain carrots but the snow seemed to result in a lack of carrots. My local veg stall wasn’t there at the weekend and the Coop was out altogether. I used cooked red lentils instead. I also replaced the breadcrumbs with oats. It turned out rather well. Like a crumbly savoury flapjack. I think with a few more adaptations I could turn out a really nice savoury flapjack that isn’t too high in fat.
White cabbage and spring onions – Raw and crispy

Stay tuned to see more exciting ways with white cabbage!

Monday, 11 January 2010

Changing rooms

It’s all madness here in the world of Midorigreen. Following last week’s snow fuelled disruption, I was hoping for a return to some thing approaching ‘normal’ and ‘routine’. It’s January after all. The time we expect thing to be dull and to actually have to get on with doing some work after weeks of doing very little because it’s (nearly) Christmas.

Instead bodies are being shuffled round and squeezed in to offices and offices are being redecorated. Cue having to pack stuff up in boxes, put up with strange smells and loud noises and find oneself with out a desk to call home.

It’s also made me realise how much I rely on having a computer. I’m trying to embrace my forces adoption of analogue. So this post was created in long hand first.

There doesn’t appear to be a working telephone extension in the space that has become my temporary home so I’ve absolutely no excuse for not working through the big list of jobs that didn’t get done last week. Wish it was still the holidays though and I could sit around in jeans and furry slippers drinking tea and doing sudoku.

Friday, 8 January 2010

This week I have been reading…

Easy Living magazine – Just when I decide that I won’t renew my subscription to Easy Living an inspiring issue like February 2010 comes along.

The Musician’s daughter – Rupert Holmes
I’m not sure what I expected when I picked this up. A tale of the life of a jazz musician and his disapproving daughter maybe? This is a terrific story set in pre-WW2 America. You get an excellent flavour of the era plus crime, mystery, secret codes and jokes. This is one of those marvellous books where every turn of the page changes your expectations.

Silent in the Grave – Deanna Raybourn
I spent the last few months of 2009 devouring Mike Ripley’s Angel series. I was suffering withdrawal and wondering if there could possibly be any more wonderful characters out there for me to discover. Enter Lady Julia Grey and the March family. I’m half way through this and will definitely be heading to library to pick volume 2.

Passion – Louise Bagshawe
When Louise does chick lit well it is excellent. She can be by both funny and inspiring. Her works of late have taken a turn towards action plots. So the girl meets boy, loses boy, finds herself and regains boy in process plot gets reworked. This reworking tends to take the form of some kind of murder with an international flavour. It does not on the whole make me laugh or make me feel inspired. I found the supposed passion between the two main characters in this very hard to take. Other inconstancies around religious feelings, how quickly exercise has an impact on your body and all the loose ends being swept under the carpet by various governments did not enhance things. It is James Bond-esque only in that bond is a rather cold character in the original novels.

War and Peace
I’ve started this twice and not finished it because it’s just too big to carry around. My new solution is to keep it on my desk and read ten pages of so every lunch hour. The snow has rather hampered things this week but I’ll keep on with it. It’s just starting to get interesting.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Things I Love Thursday

Chilled out birthday celebrations – I made the decision not to have any major birthday celebrations on the day this year. It’s a bit too close to NYE and everyone is partied out. Instead I’ll be celebrating some time in February. This took all the pressure off and meant I was able to relax on the day itself. In a very grown up manner I spent the day having my hair cut, doing food shopping, showing some new allotment buddies around the plot and eating/drinking good stuff.

Great gifts – I love it when you get a present that makes you realise that someone has thought about you. Really pleased with High Voltage Tattoo book, Bee house (from ethicalsuperstore) and Bass guitar Magazine subscription.

Exercise – my exercise routine was a bit lax between June and December. With the exception of belly dancing things were sporadic or non-existent. This week I’ve been going for walk at lunchtime and doing yoga before bed. I managed an hour walk yesterday through the snow. It was exhilarating to start with anyway.

Other good stuff -warm slippers, working at home, home made smoothies, avoiding the sales, fresh air, scarves for indoor and outdoor wear, The Musician’s Daughter by Rupert Holmes (who can resist a novel with twists, humour, music and a secret code), allotment buddies, blogging, packing up and clearing out my office, February Easy Living, plans to go to the Vitality show, lunch out, pink blusher for winter, friends old and new, frozen assets, countdowns, the year ahead.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Three good things about the bus not turning up

My bus failed to turn up last night. As it frequently runs late it is difficult to tell the difference between cancellation and tardiness. I spent an hour standing in zero degrees and below. I arrived home feeling cold and somewhat annoyed that I’d lost part of my evening.

In The Little Lady Agency, Melissa/Honey tries to think of three good things about any situation she is less than happy with. I like the character of Melissa because she is both glamorous and organised. So taking inspiration I have tried to think of three good things about my bus not turning up.

1. Standing in the cold must burn more calories than sitting in the warm. Good excuse for me to enjoy a mini mince pie.
2. Reminder of how fortunate I am to live a life where I am able to catch a bus, have warm clothing and a home to go to.
3.Bit stuck on #3. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

What's in my lunchbox this week?

My fridge has all manner of things in it at present. The freezer is full to bursting. I’ve just got my hands on Vegan with a Vengeance and am all inspired. Here’s this weeks lunch.

Clockwise from top right:

Sweet potato hash with five spice – From Vwav. I should have made an effort and included the watercress. I don’t like over sweet stuff so I can only manage this in very small amounts. Will try again though.

Dates stuffed with marzipan. A lovely guest bought these for NYE and they didn’t eaten so I am enjoying as a treat in my lunch this week.

Raw cauliflower

Raw fennel and white cabbage dressed with a splash of rice vinegar and chilli dried tofu pieces.

I’m trying to make a point of going out for a walk every lunch time even if it’s only a short one and to read 10 pages of War and Peace.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Looking in both directions

Looking back at the posts I did at the start of last year, reviewing the year just past and looking to the year ahead, it seems that my hopes for the year ahead don’t vary much

2009 review
Started belly dancing again. Baked lots of vegan cupcakes. Did the Moonwalk. Saw NKOTB and Alice Cooper. Went to V09. Played a musical instrument in public for the first time in over 25 years. Discovered a café serving vegan food. Made strawberry wine. Dyed my hair with Elderberries. Bought and played electro-acoustic bass guitar. Danced and went to bed late in Leamington and Nottingham. One funeral and one wedding. Altered and made clothes using a dressmaking dummy (enter Rosie) for fittings. Started filing my nails regularly. Had a regular massage. Took Pilates and Yoga classes. Made a decision about my online business. Sold stuff on eBay. Started a new blog. Increased my fear of dogs. Discovered the hazards of wearing new shoes to festivals. Carted manure around in a wheelbarrow. Read and felt inspired by lots of books. Attended vitality show and tried out Burlesque. Went to cocktails and cupcakes party. Bought more music CDs than ever before and listened to them. Planted Raspberries (just waiting to get a crop from them). Went on secondment at work and developed. Attended summer beauty morning and lunch ( and decided to have my own home spa mornings in future). Climbed Glastonbury Tor. Hosted a ‘weekend at Bernies’ party. Cried, argued and sulked. Discovered

Plans and dreams for 2010
Buy a Rickenbacker 4003. Go to Sonisphere and V. Dance – lots. Eat loads of veg. Play bass and get to the end of grade 3. Get back into exercising. File nails. Come up with killer business idea. Complete chartership. Take lunch to work everyday. Buy less and make do more. Work my allotment with buddies. Find out how to become a good listener. Read War and Peace. Learn to read music. Do you yoga before bed. Have a Lush party. Belly dance. Learn to forage. Keep working at a vegan diet. Dye my hair green. Use up my fabric stash.