Saturday, 28 April 2007

Lint flavoured Jelly Bean

I have neglected my housewifely duties today and made no cakes nor done much. I blame my poorly knee or is that my clumsiness as I twisted my knee yesterday and have been limping around the house whimpering all day with H asking if I want some medicine or a boo boo plaster (band-aid). I have now resorted to the medicinal effects of some ages old jelly beans that have been mouldering quietly to themselves in the back of the cupboard for some time. I’m almost certain the orange one moved. Probably not the worst thing I have ever eaten, considering the mass quantities of red Swedish fish, pixie-sticks, and sour gummy creatures consumed in my childhood….teen years? Erm ok I confess I do have an addiction but I keep it down to twice a year when we visit the States. Honest. The rest of the time I stick to coffee, dark chocolate and scones with jam and cream. And whatever cakes I have in the works. Oh and must not forget the holy grail of all candy the red hot tamales, well to me anyway.

Ooh look at all the pretty colours. Perhaps scavenging H’s old jelly beans was a bit of a mistake because I’m sure the one I just had tasted like lint. Perhaps it was lint, perhaps they aren’t even jelly beans but some highly evolved form of jelly bean, and I have just decimated their entire society, reduced them to a bad aftertaste and a belly full of sugary junk or fruity lint balls. I think I best go get something useful done now while the sugar rush is on!

Sunday, 22 April 2007

You Know You Have a Problem...

When you knit a cover to keep your fingers from getting burned on your double tall latte, one sugar please. Actually its not mine Its the first Item I knit that wasn't a scarf. Well My husband would probably argue that it is indeed a scarf only very small with the ends sewn together. And there are buttons! I sewed buttons on and I'm just not very adept at that sort of thing, any way its cute and it did actually get used, and only took a short while to make, and it involves coffee so what could there be that's better than that?

Mmmmm coffee I could just go for one now.

Pattern? Pattern? we don't need no stinking patterns. Well actually I got the idea from a picture I saw of something similar on the Internet but it was hand sewn cloth and not knitted, but I gave it a go and was pleased with the result even if my husband thought it was funny, he still used it every time we went to Starbucks while visiting my parents in Northern Idaho.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Coconut Flapjack

This is a recipe that I have been playing around with from a very basic recipe and I am finally happy with the result, and so is everyone else as it doesn't seem to stay in the house very long before its all disappeared into happy bellies.

Coconut Flapjack
(granola bars)

2 cups porridge oats
2 tablespoons demerara sugar
2 tablespoons golden (light corn) syrup
1/2 cup butter
pinch of salt
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup dark chocolate melted

set the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4

Grease a shallow baking pan.
Put the butter, syrup and sugar into a medium sized saucepan and melt together over a very low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon. Do not let the mixture boil.
Take the pan off the heat and stir in the oats, salt, coconut, seeds, and chocolate chips, mixing everything together well.
Pour the mixture into the cake tin and press down with the back of a spoon or a plastic spatula.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes until golden brown.
Remove the tin from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave and then drizzle over the flapjack. When the chocolate has cooled and set cut the flapjack into squares, but leave in the tin until completely cool before removing.

Friday, 20 April 2007

Raspberry Shortcake and Teal Paint

I’m not an artist I just play one on tv. I have painted my little canvases. Well three out of four ain’t half… um three quarters bad. The fourth one defied me and didn’t want to be anything I wanted it to be, so for now its just a smeared teal canvas. Its ok I’m fine with that the others have turned out well enough and I had fun painting them last night as I deftly avoided doing any more housework! The house is clean anyway, at least on the surface as long as nobody looks in the closet under the stairs, or in any boxes and especially not in the shed or the attic. Speaking of attics I need to go up into the dark cobwebby depths of ours to retrieve a new canvas to paint from one of the blank ones loitering in the dust up there, I don’t do ladders though so will enlist M to fetch and carry for me. I have some lovely Raspberry Shortcake to bribe him with so things should turn out to my advantage. Unless there are spiders, then I'm on my own.

As for what I’m going to do with the miniature paintings I’m not entirely sure but I think of painting as being a form of therapy, it calms and relaxes me, most of the time. Though I’m no expert or even that talented and still a bit rusty from having abandoned painting for the better part of two years or more. I’m baaaack to it with my chipped star buck’s cup full of ratty paintbrushes and a stack of disused bibs as cloths. Maybe next time I’ll crack open the oils as all my acrylics are half empty and dried out. Though there is plenty of house paint out in the shed! And I am so much better at painting canvas than painting walls, every time I paint a room I always end up absolutely covered in paint and fed up of having to scrape it off my glasses.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Somewhat Useful

Ok so I haven’t exactly painted my little canvases yet but I’m getting there I have done some sketches I’m just procrastinating at usual, but I did start knitting something new, and blue. It might be a shawl or it might be a simple poncho type of affair, I’m not really sure yet, but its definitely blue-ish. And I also did make an orange headband for my friend Frizbe to take away on her holiday to match the orange top she bought so there is a real reason behind the delay. Honest . And though its only a simple quick knit it made me feel quite happy to make it, and hopefully prove to be a somewhat useful item. I will try and invest some time into getting my husband, the photographer, to take some pictures of the bits and pieces I have been knitting and hopefully get them up here for the world to criticize. I may not knit well, or even often but at least so far I’m sticking to it and learning bit by bit. Who know one day I might knit my husband and son matching sweaters then will see who gets the last laugh!

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Jane of All Trades

I have been tempted by fate, or cheapness as I have succumbed to the lure of discount book and art supply shop the works and bought a little quartet of small postcard sized canvases. I know silly purchase but its too late now, they were very cheap and now I have to do something with them. I don’t know what exactly but its got to be something. I was tempted by the muse of small canvases and now they must be painted. I’m thinking something in the realm of browns and teals as that seems to be my latest favourite colour scheme. Which all brings me to the thought that I am creative person, but seem to meander about from thing to thing without seeming to find a specific thing that I am good at that defines me. Maybe being a Jane of all trades, master of none, is my destiny, to be a little bit good at some things and not stellar at any one thing.

When I was little the only thing I ever wanted to be was:

1. A writer. I’m pretty sure this doesn’t really count but it’s a step in the direction I want to go in. I think school did have its effect on me, high school and college, as to making me feel more and more jaded about what abilities I thought I possessed. Aside from my obviously atrocious typing skills thank you. My dad instilled into me a love of books and reading which I still have and am hopefully passing on to my own child. Because of me always having my nose pressed into a book my reading comprehension and my writing skills were often advanced of my classmates, and that’s what lead me into quite a lot of trouble with one of my teachers. I was accused of plagiarising my work because it was just too advanced for my age. Complete and utter bullshit but left me with a bitter aftertaste that carried with me a long time. The last paper I wrote for her class before transferring she had to get a college professor to help her read it. Honestly no wonder the state of the American school system, mind you its not that great here either. And don’t get me started on the ass that taught English in college, or the fact that I could never ever get into any of the freaking creative writing classes anywhere! But I’ m not bitter really.

2. an archaeologist/ anthropologist as my father gave me a love of history. There was nothing I loved better than to sit and watch a history show on tv with my dad and listen to him argue with the facts. Which come to think of it didn’t help me a lot in school when I had a tendency to argue with my teachers who insisted on teaching dumbed down cherry tree sorts of history. That dream was shattered in University by the horror of having to take cultural anthropology with an incredibly pompous professor that only seem to regurgitate over and over again tales of his getting drunk with the local people of South America. I was SO not interested.

3. An artist. But very vaguely defined, I have the vision just not the real talent, at least in that respect I have always had good art teachers, and loved art history as well. I’m just not very disciplined at art or writing. My own worst enemy sort of thing, Cleaver enough to get by but a bit to cleaver for my own good and utterly unambitious and lacking in drive, and self belief. But enough rehashing of old issues for this post. For now I shall try to me a good Jane of all trades, happily baking, cooking, painting, gardening, knitting, and hopefully writing and get on with things. Its late, I’m tired and Dr. Who is on in five minutes. Which still leaves me with four little blank canvases to paint.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Rogue Knitting

As I explained earlier I have recently been learning to Knit. I can knit, purl, cast on, cast off, even make a button hole. But I am at a loss for understanding complicated patterns. I don’t know why, give me something that starts out scarf shaped and I’m fine but I just haven’t got a clue how to translate more difficult patterns into my brain. Must be a left handed thing. I will keep trying in the meantime I have been quite happy making headbands, which are probably about the simplest thing you can knit but they are fun to make and useful unlike the scarves I have made now that it is spring and warm out. Next experiment will be to attempt a hot water bottle cover, one that is a bit more complicated than a scarf sewn together. Honest. I have made an mp3 cover but again that was of my own design after googling various free patterns. And a clutch bag with a button and button hole! That I have neglected to sew the lining into yet. that’s another thing though in my semi-domesticated status, I don’t really know how to sew beyond button replacement and small holes in things, oh and up picking labels from M’s shirts, but I’m pretty sure that doesn’t count. Mind my mother didn’t really sew and my dad did all the cooking and cleaning so I don’t think I’m doing too badly.

I have a book on knitting that I am slowly reading along with several novels and magazines on the go so hopefully I will figure out how to follow a pattern soon and do some more complicated knitting of cables and things, then move onto such husband torturing devices as sweaters and hats.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Big Cook Little Cannibal

Ok there is this children’s show called Big Cook Little Cook here and my son thinks it is brilliant. The premise of the show is that these two cooks, one big one small have various characters from children’s stories visit their café, they tell a story about the character, then decide what to cook. All very well and good, teach children cooking you say, learn where various food items come from? Yes. Learn how to tidy up the kitchen? Yup. Learn how to be a cannibal? What? Oh yes on today’s very special episode the gingerbread man came to visit the café, and what do you think they chose to make for him? A nice pie? Fox shaped biscuits? No they made him some gingerbread people!

I find this very disturbing, I know a three year old might not really understand the concept. Honestly way to turn the next generation into Jeffrey Dhamer, and they say violence and sex on tv , and modern music are making kids crazy. Perhaps they should have a closer look at pre-school TV, I don’t remember the Sesame Street ever teaching cannibalism. 1 2 3 4 5 eat that man alive! 6 7 8 9 10 bring another victim over again! No I’m pretty sure I would remember that, I think I’ll just turn the music up and let H dance to some heavy metal instead.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Black Thumb Green House

I seem to be spending an inordinate amount of time in the garden clippers and trowel in hand of late. I don’t know where this has come from but I feel a bit like the Magician’s Apprentice as I seem to keep going at it trimming plants playing search and destroy against an army of invading weeds. I am not now nor have I ever been a gardener but it appears I seven years of living in England have taken their toll. Next I’ll be saying that anything over an hours drive is just too far and watching Midsomer Murders. Somebody shoot me. Its good grimy fun and god knows the garden does look better, next I’ll be talking about planting bulbs and perennials. Help me. I need a big dose of Krispy Kreme to get me though this trying time. Give me Cinnabun, give me Denny’s, IHOP and all things good and American turn me back from this path I have strayed. I knew we should have got rid of that greenhouse, It all started with one rather sickly tomato plant two years ago and now its seeds sown, soil turned, trees trimmed, weeding sorted. It’s a very dark green affair, courgette, tomatoes, pumpkin, and peppers all sprouting happily. I just have one question why do all my house plants die?

Devil With a Blue Apron On

Tales of a Semi-Domestic Diva

Perhaps it’s the knitting that did it, or the baking or even the gardening. I think I’m being turned into a semi-domestic diva! I did always like to cook though so that doesn’t count towards my emanate domesticity or does it? My father is to blame for my cooking, He is one of the best cooks I have ever known and I was always in the kitchen with him from before I could talk, and probably walk for that matter. My mother does not cook, she does seasonal baking, the reheating of leftovers, and the ordering of pizza. As my dad’s galley slave I learned more than just how to boil water, I learned the real basics of cooking, not the measuring and fussy things, just real good food and ingredients, a bit of this a lot of that, usually in vast quantities. The art of cooking with a wooden spoon.
Being in the kitchen makes me happy. I love to bake and cook and fiddle about with recipes to make them my own. I keep thinking about writing a cook book, but that would take some doing as aside from all my recipes for cookies and cakes which I do write down, the majority of the things I do cook are a bit more organic that that and I tend to just throw things together from vague recipes and they mostly seem to work out. Does a cook book constitute as writing a book though? Would that still be creative? Could even rope my other half into taking the pictures for it, he will easily take payment in cakes!

I have also been toying with idea of taking some cupcakes around to one of the local cafes in town. Not sure about that, a friend things it’s a good idea, well actually it was her idea, but it smacks of being out going and I have never been good at selling myself just good at making cakes apparently. That would take an awful lot of mulling over, and a lot more guts than I think I have. But it would be something that is my own, my kitchen, my cupcakes, my life sort of thing. To bake or not to bake that is the question. Or vacuum my floors, maybe I'm not so domestic after all.

Sunday, 8 April 2007

Apple Pies, Chocolate Highs, and Eggs of Stone

Today is that wondrous day called Easter when all good little children wake to find deposits of chocolate eggs deposited throughout their homes and gardens. Where parents smiles are tight around the edges as the little devils tear into brightly wrapped eggs gorging on chocolate in savage abandon, eyes wild and bodies trembling as the sugar hit’s the bloodstream, Chocolate dripping from mouths, fingers covered in the broken bodies of chocolate bunnies. Whatever happened to brightly coloured boiled eggs? I guess its more of an American thing, because you just can get a hold of egg dying kits here and its very rare to find those little plastic eggs that you fill with all manner of goodies. Mind you I actually never liked to eat the boiled eggs and after several years my parents (The Easter Bunny) left me a basket with a stone egg, not edible of course but very pretty and guaranteed not to get forgotten somewhere and to fester and rot as spring turns to summer. I got candy as well, jelly beans, and pistachio nuts, and reeces peanut butter cups.

I think it’s a tradition that I will take up next year with my son, as he has ended up with indescribably huge cache of chocolate that no three year old should ever be in possession of. I think it might possible have something to do with my husband M, being a chocoholic and should in future never be allowed near Easter eggs ever again. So next year I am going to cart some egg dye back from visiting my parents in Idaho, source out a stone egg and minimize the amount of chocolate and candy. Right saying that I’m off to take my apple pie with cinnamon crumble topping out of the oven and get down to the real work of making a nice dinner, balsamic and brown sugar glazed sweet potatoes, pork chops with cider and cream, and parmesan mashed potatoes.

Friday, 6 April 2007

Killing Ivy

I admit to a love of nature and most things green, except brussel sprouts, beet greens, cabbage, and broccoli (I love it but it hates me) , but I have never quite understood the depth of devotion the English hold for pottering in the garden. I grew up with my father’s tomato plants, and the chore of watering them daily in the lovely Californian summer. Strangely that didn’t put me off eventually growing my own tomatoes in our greenhouse, but I don’t think I’m a true gardener at heart, especially after hours of trying to rid the rockery (another thing I don’t get its just a pile of dirt and rocks) of strangling ivy that had been ignored for most of the time since we moved into this house three years ago. I spent the majority of the day cutting and pulling at the ivy, plagued by spiders, assaulted by green and brown caterpillars, annoyed by hoards of slugs and snails, and one incredibly pissed off frog.

H my son thought the frog would be a great pet. H is three and a half and quickly ran to get a bucket and fill it with water, We put the frog in the bucket on a rock. The frog was so not impressed, H thought the frog was great, Till it jumped out of the swishing bucket and hopped into the path of Holly, the squashed faced demon eyed kitten from over the fence. The frog or probably toad as it was quite yellowish hopped away before the kitten could get to it and H said bye bye and went off to terrorize Holly the cat instead. In any event the ivy is as gone as its going to get and the rockery looks a lot better, cement chunks and all. I’m off to take a very deserving bubble bath and read my book.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Romancing the Dark Side

Seeing as I shall be dropping the mantle of twenty something and entering into the realm of 30 I have been thinking rather a lot of late of how my life has changed from what it was ten years ago. And especially about my battle with depression this past year. I know I know everyone is doing it. The whole scarred childhood scarred pregnancy, birth, postnatal depression, potty training, disastrously going to hell in a hand basket sort of way. Things are so much better now not just because of the drugs, and they did the job, but because I found a voice to annoy people with and admit not only to my friends and family but to myself that I was not right. I’m better now honest there is still a darkness in me, but that was always there it just got away from me for a little while and I lost control. I’m so far from perfect anything but I’m trying to be a better person, a better wife and mother, stronger and happier in myself. I still have my black days but I’m female and that is all part and parcel of the double x.

Last year had its dark days but so far this year seems to be going a lot smoother, I have started writing again, not much yet but this is a start. I am learning to knit, and becoming more green fingered in the garden instead of black, I now have seeds sown and new plants potted. I have painted.. Well I’ll get back to that. And I have been doing a lot more pottering in the kitchen so if not healthier food at least its homemade and tastes better. I hear the call of cake.

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Knitting with One Needle

Hello my name is Meridianariel and I’m a knitter. Ok I admit it I have been learning how to knit for the last few months. Nothing spectacularly difficult yet the sum total of my knitting is half a dozen scarves and scarf like objects that have been made vaguely into other things. A collar for a stuffed animal dragon, a small purse with a button and an mp3 holder. Oh and a few headbands but my husband says that they are just very small scarves with the ends sewn together. Oh and I mustn’t forget my very favourite item a coffee jacket, a knitted version of those little cardboard holders that keep your fingerprints from burning off when you hold a paper cup from Starbucks. Honestly its very useful when you are as addicted to coffee as we are. Mmmm coffee
One day I will attempt a hat or sweater or actually follow a proper pattern honest for the time being though I’m happy messing about with pretty wool making simple little things while watching TV at night or waiting for my other half to bring me coffee while sitting in Starbucks. Ah the simple pleasures coffee chocolate and knitting.
Recently while visiting my parents in Idaho I lost one of my knitting needles, while shopping in Wal-Mart (head hanging in shame) and my husband took great glee in saying I was “Knitting with one needle.” equating it with being one brick short of a load or a cookie short of a dozen. Honestly my husband and my mother laughed hysterically at that, so I made them take me straight to the craft shop so I could get a new set. I was so not amused. I find knitting very relaxing and calming, except when everything goes to pot, and even then you just rip it back and start again no harm done. And they make a rather nifty weapon against evildoers.

To trek the stars... or something

In response to reading my blog my husband said two things. Thing number one “ oh no you have a blog why did you do that?” and number two “Who’s Jim.” To which I looked at him in utter disbelief and said “You’re not serious.” yes he was he didn’t have a clue I had to practically spell out star trek to him not all together sure he really understands having not grown up watching star trek, all star trek or having had a best friend who’s whole family was practically obsessed with it. But then again I am American and we do tend to get rather into our tv shows. And random quotes. Who wouldn’t want to live in star trek anyway… well perhaps one of the later ones Tea, earl grey hot. And all that. And nobody is fat and everyone is happy and utopian, and enemies are really enemies. Not that I’m a trekkie or trekker or whatever but you have got to love a bit of science fiction. it’s a cultural icon for goodness sakes.
Hmm now he is grumbling that he wants a blog.

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Damn it Jim I’m a housewife not a painter!

Tonight for the first time in a very long time instead of going to the gym or vegging out in front of another episode of CSI, I dragged out the neglected remains of my painting kit. And no I don’t mean walls I mean acrylics and oils paintbrushes and a rather dinky canvas. It didn’t go very well my skills what they have diminished to are rather rusty with disuse and things took a darker cast than intended. The result is a rather disturbing little painting of a coffee cup…I think. Anyway I have entitled it “Espresso in Hell” as I think the vast quantities of caffeine imbibed today might have something to do with dusting off my paints. Whether or not I can remember any of my art lessons from school is rather debatable. Perhaps not even questionable but the important fact to me is I actually did something a small something but something creative in any event. Despite all the obstacles of a messy house screaming toddler, pottering husband, sink full of festering dishes, and a load of laundry that will probably end up left out on the line all night.

Who cares I’m on a happy high and hopefully done something to counter the atrophy of my creativity. Not only have I painted but I’m writing this so that’s two things painting and verbal diarrhoea, er um writing that’s what I meant, even if I’m the only one who reads this its still out there and it’s a start. Or this all could be something to do with the fact that turning 30 is looming over me and I am desperately trying to figure out who I am and find who I used to be besides wife and mother. Don’t get me wrong I love my family but being a stay at home mom sometimes lacks in feeling really alive and that I matter in the world, that I’m not just lurking in the shadows hiding behind being a busy homemaker.