Super Sunday cook up!

I really enjoy having a mass Sunday cook up so I have meals prepared for the week and to keep feeding my freezer, sadly it is getting a bit full now so I may have to slow down!

This time of year is very veg heavy for anyone that likes growing things in the garden. I have a very clever, enthusiastic recent convert to gardening for a husband and a doubly enthusiastic, so experienced he could be on Gardener’s World, neighbour. My neighbour has acres of garden and grows a vast amount of produce (by yours and my little standards) and he is so kind and generous with both his time to discuss gardening traumas and also sharing produce. We share ours too!

So this weekend, I had potatoes, Kestrel and Charlotte varieties, some strange heirloom carrots in cream, yellow and orange. Runner beans, French beans, spring onions, lettuce (three carrier bags stuffed full) and radishes. Then my neighbour popped round and brought me another carrier bag of apples, a huge bowl of raspberries (wow!) and more courgettes.

Now I hate wasting food, especially organic home grown yumminess …. So I had to get a plan! I have limited space in my freezer so it had to be a compact plan! The lettuce I really liked in the lettuce soup that I posted about recently but I would end up with oh so many containers. So I took a short cut and did the first stage of the soup, by wilting the lettuce in chicken stock and then pureeing. That way I only had 5 containers to store!  The apples, hmm, well despite my daughter suggesting her horse ‘needed’ a constant supply of apples, these were too delicious to part with but we don’t eat many puddings these days (dieting grumble, grumble!) so I turned the apples into apple purée and am going to freeze it in little containers that can either turn into apple sauce or be added to parsnip and apple soup.

Then I started on shepherd’s pies to use some of the potatoes and added squash to the mash. Then I made quiches, one for this week and one will just have to freeze, they are ok defrosted but improve with reheating. I now have close to zero room in my freezer but it feels as though I have had a good and successful day – phew!

 

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Creative chaos or just a mess?

As we all know on this blog, crafters are all pretty wonderful people! Of course, we are all different in what we like and don’t like and how we approach things. In our work, some of us are tidy and some of us messy. Does it matter if you have everything neatly stored and colour coordinated… or your desk (like mine!) is an eruption of colours and bits and pieces? The general view always seems to be that tidy is best. Well, hang on, there’s some good news for those of us on the messy end of the scale – I’ve just read that there is growing evidence that being tidy can actually hamper your creativity!

My desk, just now!

Being messy has its plus points. Messy can be read as ‘interesting’. If you stick to a strict regimen, you may well get lots done, but is what you produce any good, or original? A horrible term ‘thinking outside the box’ is, I think, meant to encourage you to look at things from a different, perhaps quirky angle. In a recent blog, I wrote about making the most of your dies and using them in different ways from how they were originally intended. It seems obvious, but sometimes, you just have to stand back a bit and let your mind wander… yes, I know, mine wanders a lot!

I think most of us would own up to having too much ‘stuff’ in our lives and can spend a lot of time trying to ‘de-clutter’. Just have a look at top-selling books on Amazon and you’ll see there’s a whole industry in it! But if you go too far the other way, that empty minimalist way of living can be too restricting. There’s nothing less inspiring than an empty wall.

Some really creative and clever people had chaotic desks. Asked to name a brainy person and many of us would come up with Einstein. I am pleased to report he had a fantastically messy desk! So too, apparently, does the domestic goddess Nigella Lawson, so there’s hope for us all.

The theory seems to be that a messy and chaotic approach to work and creativity often leads to a fresh way of thinking. There’s been lots of research done that proves that messy=creative. How many artists’ studios have you ever seen that are tidy?

Unfortunately, the idea that ‘messy is bad’ is taught to us from a very early age. But surely, being allowed to make a mess has to be a good thing if that is how you prefer to live or work. Trying to force yourself to be tidy cannot be a good way to live – how are you going to express yourself? And let’s face it; most children are happiest when they are allowed to make a mess!

Life is a messy business. So much of my ‘clutter’ is actually my ‘happy memory’ bank – photos of my parents, my granddaughter’s artworks, a shell I picked up on a far way beach… and so it goes on. As a fellow crafter, I am sure you know just what I mean. Enjoy your mess! Smiles, Joanna

 

 

 

 

 

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Is it a beach hut… or a shed?

I decided to do a blog about this card today to underline the flexibility of dies. Technically this is sold as a beach hut, (see my previous blog!) and very popular it is too, but I loved the use of it as a plain old garden shed. It fascinates me how a different paint job or colouring treatment or however you like to look at it, can turn it into something quite different.

I was reading an article the other day about ‘Man caves’ and thought how nice it must be for a husband to be able to choose everything without female input and have a little world that is completely his own. I offered Richard a shed down the garden and his response was: “What’s wrong with the garden shed we have now, it’s not full yet?” OK, he obviously doesn’t feel he needs a man cave, but time will tell!

However, in tandem with that article was one about ‘She sheds’ and it occurred to me how lovely it would be to have, say, a fairy garden interior, or whatever your favourite dream place is. I’m not sure if I have the time to do anything for now, but I do know I will be exploring the lovely ‘fairy door’ idea for spots in the garden to make sure Grace grows up with the same love of fairies and gardens as I have… Watch this space on the website is all I will say!

To go back to this card, the image was from ‘One Summer’s Day’ CD which features artwork by an American lady called Barbara Mock – such lovely designs on there, I do enjoy using it.

So how about a man’s card with a shed on it, or a card for a keen gardener with the door of the shed opening to have tools spilling out? So why not have a look at all your dies and ponder alternative uses for them!

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Crafting with Granny

One of the joys of our hobby is being able to share, whether it’s sharing the making of cards with family and friends or just giving them the finished product!

This weekend I was playing with my little granddaughter Grace. She absolutely loves ponies and regularly rides a little Shetland pony called Pippin. Her mother has a lovely grey called Bobby and Grace has grown up thinking everyone has to clean up after horses and wears wellies most of the time!

So knowing her passion for all things horse related, rather than playing yet again with her model stable, we decided to do some cardmaking. I have a little box and a drawer which I am slowly saving things in when I spot something that might be fun for her to use.

The Cuttlebug is ideal for children and even this little 3 year old can turn the handle if you hold the machine steady for her. We have a couple of suitable horsey dies in the Signature Dies range, so they have been waiting in the drawer for some time!

Poor old Bobby got kicked by another horse and is confined to his stable on box rest until his leg heals. So we made him a get well soon card!

Grace is definitely a chip off the old block, so to speak, she chose colours beautifully, and is very good already at accurately wielding the glue dispenser. I did the double sided taping, more for speed than anything, but soon I am sure she will manage with a tape dispenser. We die cut many more horses than we needed (ok so she wouldn’t stop and I didn’t like to halt the enthusiasm!) and included those inside the card “so Mummy can play with them” – think of it as alternative confetti to put inside a card!

The front you can see here in the picture, inside we used a Get Well Soon die and wrote a message for Bobby. The grass is made by using the Icicle border die. This design could be used with any of the animal families we have, so it could be a dog card, farm card or whatever you like!

 

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Healthy eating seems to work!

I wanted to share my happy evening with all of you – I was at my Slimming World group last night and annually each group chooses its ‘Woman of the Year’ that has done well on the plan and inspired other members and when they announced that I had won… well I own up I did cry a little bit!

I joined just over a year ago – not for the first time at a group down here in the South West – but the first time in this particular group at Cheddar in Somerset, just near my daughter. As it’s held on a Monday evening, and I am official Granny child minder if needed over the weekend and on Mondays, I rarely go into the office those days.

This is a before picture of me – on holiday about to go kayaking if I remember rightly … poor old kayak I say, no wonder it wasn’t very stable! Early 2016 was a tough time for me as all the Create and Craft viewers probably know as I lost my mother and father one after the other in the same week in January.

Having surfaced after the funeral and still being more than a little weighted down by the sadness I took a good look at the carrier bag full of medicines that I collected from the chemist every few weeks and decided I had to do something to make sure it wasn’t me joining them any time soon!

I had heavy medication for diabetes and still very high numbers, two different meds for high blood pressure and various other things I took and yes, it really was a carrier bag full every couple of weeks or so.

I joined Slimming World (again) but this time at a totally different group with possibly the best leader in the world (Cathy you’re so good) and began to relearn my eating habits. You know how annoying it is when people say this isn’t a diet it’s a lifestyle change well… nah I’m not going to say that… but it’s true.

I lost eight pounds in my first week and a stone in my first month, I focussed so hard and was very determined to make it work this time. And so it did for many months. Then I found it harder and harder to shift the pounds. It was a combination of my failings and also being older and having lost so much, maybe my body got mean!

However I concentrated on keeping my blood sugar readings good (for those in the know my levels went from 14.6 down to 5.1 where they have been for many months now) and am now no longer listed as diabetic by my doc, no more checks, no more meds, no more high blood pressure and all is good.

For now, I need to keep plodding on, I need to keep those blood levels steady forever and some more weight off would be fab – I am just under four stone lighter than at my heaviest and I would love to see another couple of stones disappear into the ether!

I hope my Mum and Dad would be really proud of me!

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