Thursday, 31 May 2007

Go Ask Alys

Where was I? oh yes camping, now my definition of camping is based on the only camping I did as I child growing up in the golden state. My dad and I, not my mother she did not DO camping, would drive across cali and up into the sierra mountains we would park the car load up the backpacks the gold pan the sluice , and the food bucket. Several hours of walking down twisty turny trails with a sheer drop off to one side before you got to the campsite at the river. Time spent wrestling with the tent making a fire and some sort of food before dropping off to sleep. We didn't leave till the food was gone as it was an incredibly steep walk back up the mountainside to get to the car. We brought the dogs with us and my dad taught me how to pan for gold, the water was clean but the fish were poisoned by mercury, so no fishing but to throw them back in. The mercury was from all those years of people looking for gold, it being the place of the gold rush and all. We saw a bear once and then there was the time that our dog Sophie saved me from a rattlesnake, good times all. That's my idea of camping, the only running water is the river, and the little outhouse had a nice bucket of lye to sprinkle down the hole. Oh and there were lots of nice interesting bits of discarded gold rush equipment scattered about in their rust coloured glory.

Camping this weekend was nothing like that. Don't get me wrong it was lovely, save for what I shall call the febreeze incident. It was my first trip to Wales, and it was beautiful, while my friend and I struggled with her new enormous tent figuring out how to put it up the kids argued among themselves. The campsite was lovely lots of trees near some sand dunes fresh running water, and minutes drive from town. And my friend assures me that the local pizza place, and the chinese deliver to the campsite. H has a ball running around between the tents while we sort out some tea and await more arrivals to the site after a slapdash trip around the local tesco's to stock up on various tinned pasta for the kids, sausages, bacon, all manner of goodies needed for the bank holiday weekend.

Then Frizbe pulls some kit out for me. Kit? you say what sort of kit, well this wasn't just any sort of camping expedition this is camping with a purpose you see my friend and her husband run a live action role play company and this is one of there excursions. And where do I fit in, well I was to be a lady pirate, Minerva Swan. Pleased to make you acquaintance. Argh Hoist the mainsail and all that. The only role play I have ever done is about 8 or 10 years ago on WBS (long may it rest in peace) and that is nothing like finding your self in the woods dressed in a frilly pirate shirt with a replica pistol and a bunch of thesp types running around words and accents flowing from their lips like breathing. It was good fun, H loved running around with fake swords, and pistols, I had fun but I felt absolutely abysmal at play acting. It was great fun to watch but damn I just couldn't seem to open my mouth to play along, to shy I guess, my brain was going like a hamster running frantic in a wheel, just any of these thoughts running crazily through my mind seemed to stop before they could reach my tongue.

Mostly I busied myself with keeping the kids happy and feeding them and reading countless stories, making endless cups of coffee for Frizbe and me, pottering about the campsite. I think the best bit of roleplaying I did was being an unnamed vampire to give a message to a group of pirates to come meet my mistress the Countessa (my friend playing a vampire) I was totally petrified I'd garble it up but I think i did ok there, god I'm such a wuss.

IT was good fun though and I think we would go again if invited, the only downside was the rain on Sunday, and we just ditched everyone to go have some lunch at an Welsh Italian ice-cream and coffee cafe and then off to a soft play place to tire the kids out. M came down on Monday for the day to bring us back and have a look around, and he forgot to bring a camera, what sort of photographer forgets to bring a camera?

We did bring out souvenir back with us, you see near to the campsite there was a little house with a sign saying they did cream teas, and below the sign there was one saying "Kittens free to good home". So how could I resist? cream teas and kittens totally sold, and they were the sweetest little kittens and we just had to have one, Frizbe was forbidden but as M wasn't there...

So that's how we came to bring a little welsh kitten home, now she needed a name and I searched through a baby name book that was floating about the house and found the name Alys, the welsh form of Alice, and asked the kitten if she liked that as her name, she started to purr so we took that as a yes. So welcome to the family Alys.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007


So the other day we are in a camping store looking at air mattresses. the woman behind the counter asks the following.

Woman: "Are you going camping then?"
Me: "yes this weekend." Isn't it obvious as I'm looking at camping things in a camping store?
H: "We're going camping in Dolphins we are!"
Me and the woman: "Dolphins?
then it clicked.
Me: "He means Wales." cue much laughter and H going all shy and embarrassed.
H: "Silly me I got it wrong." said into the material of my jacket.

so then we went camping in wales.

As if anything is ever that simple....

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Half Baked Cupcakes

Meridian Cupcakes hasn't got very far on becoming reality yet, but Frizbe has challenged me to make some by the end of the week and tout them to a few local cafes which I'm dreading doing because I am so not out going and chatty person and she is. I wish I could be more like that but I have always been a more reserved type and chatty and selling has never been my stock in trade. I'm not really the tortured artist type either, basically I'm a scaredy cat worrier. But I do want to try, honestly I'm jealous of people who do that easy going, life's a breeze everyone is your friend thing because I really struggle with coming out of my shell and sharing my thoughts and ideas with the world at large. of selling my personality and ideas.

Here its easy it always has been to spew out whatever random thought comes to mind and then let pretty much nobody read it because to be honest I don't think anyone much has read what I have written here. Its detachment I guess because I can say things here that I would choke on in the real world. Like in the good old days of WBS, for those of you in the know, although I made lasting friendships there, hell that's where I met M, and one of my best friends in the world (ahem Miss Bronwyn please stand up) but if I wasn't hidden across the wires then I don't know if I would have ever befriended them in the first place. I think I'm waffling a bit here and have gotten off topic a little bit. or a lot for that matter, but anyway I have an assignment so I best complete it before being dragged off to Wales, but that's another story for another post.

Homity Pie

The following recipe is for my take on the classic English dish. Served in one of H's favorite places Caldwell's Mill near Chatsworth.

Homity Pie Recipe


Pastry for a pie
¾ lb. potatoes (or enough to make roughly a pan of mashed potatoes)
2 large onions
3 tbsp. oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (optional)
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup sour cream (the traditional recipe calls for a few tablespoons of milk)
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
2 garlic cloves, crushed
salt and pepper to taste
First either make the pastry or buy it ready made and roll it out and line a 9" pie plate.

Peel the potatoes and cut into small pieces then boil or steam the potatoes until tender.
Chop the onions, and fry in a pan with a sprinkle of sugar and the oil ( I also added about a teaspoon or so of balsamic vinegar).
In a large mixing bowl combine the potatoes with the onions. Add the butter, sour cream, half of the cheese, garlic, oregano and salt and pepper to taste.
Mix well then fill the pie shell and sprinkle the remainder of the cheese on top.
Bake in the oven at 425°F. for 20 minutes until the cheese is golden brown on top.

Monday, 21 May 2007

Raspberry Cream Cake

The following recipe is for one of my favorite cakes, similar to a strawberry shortcake, but with raspberries and using one of my favorite cake batter recipes. Although the picture above is not of the greatest quality the cake itself is gorgeous and a perfect summertime treat. In this instance the cake is vanilla but the next time I bake it I plan to create a lemongrass version as I think lemongrass and raspberry would compliment each other nicely.

Raspberry Cream Cake

2 cups self raising flour
1 ¼ cups caster sugar
½ cup butter or margarine (softened)
3/4cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup Whipping cream
Powdered sugar
1 cup raspberries
Preheat the oven to 375 F
Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then add half of the flour to the butter beating well. Add half the milk and beat well then add the eggs one at a time. Add the rest of the flour then the remaining milk and the vanilla mixing till smooth, Fill a greased and floured baking pan half full ( 1 large cake tin or two smaller tins) bake for 25 to 35 minutes until golden on the top and the center springs back when gently pressed.

When the cake has cooled whip the cream and if desired fold in a small amount of icing sugar. Ice the cake with the whipping cream then place the raspberries (strawberries, blueberries whatever fruit you desire) gently onto the cream. Dust with icing sugar just before serving.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Anarchy and the Cupcake

I have been obsessively doodling cupcake related things in a notebook today, which hasn't really accomplished anything very much but has kept me busily in my cupcake dream world. I'm going to bake some tommorow morning though I haven't decided what flavours yet. But that mostly depends on whats lurking in the fridge and cupboards. Hmmm vanilla cupcakes with lemon buttercream sprinkled with blueberries, as I have one lemon and some blueberries that need using up. Any takers? will badger M into taking some pictures of one for me as the camera on my phone justs has one setting. blurry.

Frizbe says she will push me if I need pushing to do something and I suppose if doing soemthing dosent work out my husband and her's will eat all the evidence so no worries there then. as long as M dosent get ahold of the batter bowl before I've made the cupcakes that it. As for what to call this budding buisness venture, not sure about that have been combinging all sorts of things in my notebook today. Meridian Cupcakes is one of my favorites but I also quite like the blog post title I just typed in, I'll keep thinking about it and see what happens, at the very least I would like to do a little stand at H pre-school summer party. Off to daydream a little more and do some more doodles.

Thursday, 17 May 2007


The following is a short story I wrote a few years ago that I just recovered from the old laptop and had complety frogotten existed till I read it ten minutes ago. Its not the best I have ever written but I don't things its all that bad and hopefully rereading it will inspire me to write more.


"Welcome to the beautiful city of Ankara. Gem of the Empire." Zenia muttered under her breath as the door to the cell slammed shut, the lock loudly clicking in place. She waited a moment before pushing to her feet and surveying the dank cell in the dim light from a small window in the door. She could hear the shuffling steps of the guard retreating up the long flight of stairs. " Spend the night in the exotic Palace Dungeon visited by men and women from around the Empire." Zen continued her monologue her tone dripping with acid.
"We’re going to die here aren’t we?"
" What? What sort of attitude is that? I’ve been in worse scrapes that this, this is nothing."
"Well I was once climbing a mountain in search of my father’s lost sheep. Halfway to the top the path became very steep. I lost my footing and started to slide down the mountain to my death. I held onto an outcrop of rock, the sharp edges biting into my hands. I looked around and found that I was so high up that the clouds were below me. I could hear the sounds of the sheep bleeting somewhere above me, so up I climbed, hand over hand, higher and higher.
"All the sudden I heard a terrible howling, and upon the ledge above me stood a pack of winter starved wolves, saliva dripping from their long yellow fangs. There I was, hanging by one arm on the side of a freezing cold mountain, wondering whether or not I should leave the sheep to the wolves and climb back down to safety. As I contemplated my best route home, a hideous roar shook the mountain. Down below me on a ledge stood a giant bear.
"Imagine that. Hanging from one arm on the side of a mountain. I couldn’t climb up, because of the wolves. I couldn’t go down the mountain as the bear was waiting for me. Now have you ever heard of a worse predicament?"
"No never" Chianna exclaimed waiting patiently for Zen to finish her tail. Zen began to sort through the mouldy, louse infested straw of the dungeon cell. " Uh Zen?"
"Filthy stuff, but some of it seems to be dry. It should be better than sleeping on the cold hard stone." Zen murmured keeping her eyes from alighting on Chianna’s face as she carefully lowered herself to the straw reaching for the small dish of stale slightly mouldy bread "oh good no maggots just a bit of mould".
"It’s not a feast but it should be enough to fill our bellies. The water isn’t too bad either." Zen continued breaking the bread into equal halves and taking a cautious sip of the brackish water in its dented metal pitcher.
"Yes?" Zen looked up, absently brushing a strand of raven hair from her eyes, her face devoid of all expression. "Did you want this side of the cell?"
"The story Zen! Finish the story. What happened next?" blurted Chianna, her cheeks flushing as red as her hair in exasperation.
"Oh that"
"Yes that. How did you get down the mountain?" Chianna asked eyes flashing green fire in the dimly lit cell.
"Oh. I didn’t." She replied in a bland tone.
"The bear ate me." Zen finished blue eyes sparkling with merriment as Chianna stared at her mouth agape before bursting into helpless laughter. "That’s better. Now remember, never give up. The only situation that could be worse is if we were dead and then nothing would matter anyway. I have been in worse circumstances than this." Zen finished, the corner of her lips twitching slightly as she bent to adjust the laces of her boot withdrawing from a hidden sheath a small deadly looking dagger. The blade gleamed in the pale yellow light shining from the barred window in the door. Now lets get some sleep. We’ll need it for whatever comes next." Zen slipped the dagger back into her boot settling herself in the straw, a small smile curving her lips as her eyes closed.

copyright 2003ish Meridian Ariel

Meridian Cupcakes

For awhile now I have been toying with the idea of selling the cakes I make but as a dreamer I find it very difficult in putting these ideas into gear and making wishful thinking into some semblance of reality. I probably need some one to either hold my hand or drag my sorry procrastinating ass kicking and screaming into the land of action, productivity, and the real world. Meanwhile I just stick my head in the sand and play the semi-domestic diva, languishing in a slightly haphazard house playing Suzie homemaker while M goes off to work everyday. Its not all chocolates and soap operas, as H is still running around half the time and even when he is at pre-school I’m still surrounded by the chaos he has left behind Like the aftermath of a toddler sized tornado.

I love to cook and bake for husband, son, family, and friends. Though I have no delusions of being a master chef, Nigella I’m not, but I guess the fat around my middle doesn’t lie! To tell the truth I’m scared that if I were to do something that it would be a complete and utter failure, as I have felt about so many things in my life. I’m afraid that I would sit there with my little cupcake stall and not sell a damn one. Which is silly I know, its that whole low self esteem issue rearing its ugly head. I keep wondering, especially now having reached 30, if I’m ever going to stop feeling like I’m some useless teenager and have some sort of self belief. Wisdom come with age but obviously 30 isn’t aged enough yet for me to feel like a grownup whatever that is.

I’ve been sitting doodling up logos for my cupcake dreams, which might just be the saddest thing or not, I don’t know if I have the courage to get out there and try to sell some, H’s nursery has a summer party with stall and the like and I said to M that my cakes, and flapjack are nicer that what was on offer last year. So I sit here and think about having a little stall to sell Meridian Cupcakes. It has a nice ring to it…maybe…somebody push me…

would you buy a cupcake from me?

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Relic of a Dream

I admit that I am a dreamer more than anything else. I can cook and I can do a variety of different things but at heart really I am a dreamer and I didn’t think that was such a bad thing until yesterday when M and I were clearing out the old etch-a-sketch laptop and found hoards of old crap that I had dreamed up and wet to the wayside. One was painting and decorating those little storage boxes that they do at Ikea, and I did actually manage to sell a few but damn looking at them now makes me shudder a bit. I can’t believe I thought that was a good idea or that I actually made a bit of money off of it. Ok the cloud one isn't so bad but some of the others oh dear.

Why didn’t anyone stop me. And then we also found some pictures taken of some cards I had made, oh dear. I haven’t yet read through all the writings that I have recovered and e-mailed to myself, I need to work up the courage for that some of it will be ok, some I won’t remember at all, and some I sure will be absolutely abysmal. But I'll still keep on dreaming there has to be something good somewhere in my head the difficulty is in weeding out the bad things and dragging the good out into the light of day.

Friday, 11 May 2007

And Then There Were Three

ok this isn't terribly exciting at all but I do finally have a picture of the tri of canvases I wittered on about in earlier posts. Not much I know but they are there and the whole point of them is not the artisty but the fact that I actually was inspired to paint something so I sat down and accomlished something. Wether or not they ever get put on a wall is debatable, oh and as for the fourth one that didn't want to play with the others well that one was given out as a birthday present to a close friend who I hope enjoys it and loves it like I did, I'm just sorry I forgot to badger my hubby to take a picture of it for me. Thats what I get for not hoarding things.

Tenth Circle

Well I have been to that unholiest of unholy places IKEA, to worship at the alter of flat packed furniture. And thank the gods that I no longer work at that hellish place of tasteless Scandinavian chairs, boxes of boxes to build boxes, and don’t forget the meatballs. Anyway It wasn’t completely the tenth circle of hell, and I still like the smell of sawdust, plastic, meatballs, and coffee that permeates the store, and not to mention the cloying scent of manure that greets you as you step out of the car if you happen to be lucky enough to find parking spot without a.) getting into a shouting match at some old geezer who has parked in one of the few family spaces, without kids in toe and despite twenty million old geezer marked spots. b.) some idiot with more money then sense parking in two spaces with his sporty drop top. Though I must admit to gleefully watching said idiot later trying to fit a wardrobe in. c.) the people that make all the motions of going, i.e. putting everything in the car the jangling of keys then blithely walk off again without looking at you or saying that they aren’t going anywhere that they are just plainly f**king with you. d.) people with shiny big ass suv ‘s who park over the line. M takes great delight in parking right next to them in a normal fashion which means that I have to squeeze out and accidentally move their wing mirror, excuse me for wanting to get my share of lingonberry jam.

Mostly we went so H could look at beds, M could have meatballs and coffee, and I could wheedle the purchase of a new rug for the living room out of M. Its teal which takes some getting used to but as I said before I’m a bit enthralled with tea at the moment and as soon as we got back I repainted the canvases up on the wall to match the new rug. I’m quite pleased with them even if I did run out of paint and that left the second one slightly unfinished. I’ll get back to it honest. The Image above is of my favorite little painting that I did a week ago, again the same colour scheme but M deemed it too small for the wall so its just sitting awaiting to find a home. I'm proud of it anyway and its quite calming to look upon.

Friday, 4 May 2007

Rogue Artist and theThirtieth Year

Having abandoned all writings for the week of birthday festivities, H tearing into my presents and having too much cake, I have somehow found the time and the desire to do some painting. And no not the walls, although H’s room desperately needs repainting. I have painted a small picture for a friends birthday, and the card. I know what you are thinking and no I was NOT just being cheap, I just wanted to give her something other and the obligatory girly bubble bath/lotion/face cream. Not that there is anything wrong with that, as a matter of fact I’m a great believer in the all healing power of a bubble bath and a book or magazine. But I wanted to giver her something a bit different something that I put heart , soul, thought and imagination into. I painted a card too in disgust over the wares in the three or four card shops in town. The painting was abstract in teal, brown and turquoise, which I am currently obsessed with as I painted again last night and though far from a masterpiece of any kind its pretty and soothing to look at so I’m pleased with the result. Though I’m not sure how it turned out so tranquil as I was watching an episode of Bones at the time.

I’m out of canvas now unless I go up into the attic ( I do not do ladders) or go buy some, and availability is limited in this relatively small town, there are two shops to get canvases from, one that is expensive, and the other that is run by the quilt Nazi. Whenever I go into her craft shop she manically tries to get me to join in her coven of quilters, I have not succumbed. Partly because I can’t sew, not won’t but can not, I’d probably sew my fingers together in a sewing machine, you should see me handle a bread knife. And partly because I’m too busy trying to breathe new life into my painting and writing. Not to mention cooking, baking and housekeeping, knitting, and the colossal mountain of novels I haven’t started reading yet. All that and now I m thirty a grownup, scary thought that.