December 2007


After knowing where i’ve been.. i can move forward to where i want to go:

The Blog

For the next year, i want very much to continue taking photos and putting them on here. I’m looking into taking out flickr pro membership, its not expensive, and does make blogging photos a lot easier. I want to walk further (especially in good weather) and find more opportunities for good photos. I think when it comes to writing things for the blog i tend to think “oh but i’ll remember this anyway, i don’t need to blog it” but the thing is.. i don’t remember it. And its the stuff you write down that has more permanence. For example. when walking Jess the other day, she was taking ages sniffing round one area, and when she finally peed and came out, i muttered “hallejuah” and she turned around and gave me the most incredible dirty doggy look, as if to say “well snooks to you too!”. that kind of thing, if not recorded, just gets forgotten, and yet they’re part of what makes up the joy and happiness of life, the little moments.

Events

In terms of scheduled events for next year, there isn’t a great deal yet, i think. Michiel and i are marking our 5th anniversary on 16th February (day we met) and 16th August (day we made a firm commitment to each other) and i think that will be important to us both. Dad’s 60th birthday is coming up in September so that’s another one to mark. I do have vague plans to go spend a week or so with my maternal grandmother when the weather is considerably better, which i think both of us are looking forward to. Other than that, that’s it.

The Garden

the garden is one area i am determined to make more of in 2008. in 2007 i was very much hampered by multiple things: weather (which i couldn’t do anything about, but everyone agrees stunk), slugs (which i can do something about – i tried slug hunting and various forms of dealing with them last year – i’ve ordered, via my christmas present from gran, some nematode stuff which you put in the water you pour over your plants, and its bacteria that invade and kill slugs and snails – and doesn’t affect any other creatures), finances (i couldn’t buy some of the things i wanted to buy), and inexperience (for example, growing too many of one thing, not enough of the other, not planting others close enough together, planting too many of other things).

I was also hampered by availability of some seeds. things like aubergines weren’t available in the shops and i wasn’t able to get any until someone else ordered some for me, relatively late in the season. In addition, because it was my first year, i was struggling to get things built in time – and some things never got finished (like bed 3). I hope this year that certain things will be easier, purely because i won’t have to repeat them, plus i can get other things done earlier in the season – for example, getting large supplies of compost in, getting a rotavator in to dig up the side garden, finishing bed 3, and so on.

a more concrete garden plan will be coming in the next few weeks, but for now I’ll just say this: i want to make more of the garden, maximise the opportunities inherent within it. I’ve got lots of seeds, a garden diary from sez (both for christmas) which i am going to use as much as i can, otherwise, its just a case of putting the work in and hoping the weather co-operates. Oh, and watering with the nematodes!! (bloomin slugs..)

Environmentalism and Sustainability

This is something else i want to make more of next year. With having the compost bin now, i hope to compost a lot more stuff, i want to start recycling (*hangs her head in shame as she admits she’s a non-recycler*), i want to reuse stuff as much as possible, for example, the tetrapacks i get milk in can be used for growing seeds, loo rolls, the tubs mushrooms come in, and so on. Since we’re in a rented flat i can’t do much about things like getting our own sources of green energy and we are limited space wise (so no chickens) but i want to do what we can, where we can. Obviously the garden will go a long way towards that aim, especially if i manage to grow a lot more food than last year. I want to stop using disposables completely, with the exception of loo roll – make my own sanitary towels and make hankies to wash and reuse, and do things like making jess a new bed from scraps of material. In the kitchen i want to preserve and bottle more (esp if we get good levels of produce from the garden), try to buy in bulk and use more staple foods (and set up stores, so that we’ve some back up in case of a disaster). I’ve all the tools (well mostly) and knowledge at hand – its just a case of putting it together and doing it.

Craft Work

I’ve written already about the craft work that fits in with the sustainable ethos: reusing, for example, with making jess’s bed up, and making sanitary towels for myself. I want to continue my cardmaking, that’s something that gives me a great deal of pleasure, and i may look into scrapbooking. I wouldn’t mind taking up another craft as well, in time – maybe knitting or crocheting, if only to make things like food covers, dish cloths and so on. I’d like to make more of my own clothes. i need to practise!  In terms of food craft, i’ve already written about the preserving end of things, but i would also love to get back to basics: making butter, cheese, yoghurt, ginger beer and so on. I want to try to eat more simply as well, to be content with, say, some salad, cheese with bread – home made or grown, where possible.

Other Hobbies

I want to continue with the family history work i’m doing. I’m very excited about part of my maternal grandfather’s family, as they came from Bolton (on the other side of Manchester), and i am looking forward to investigating them in person, maybe i can find graves and so on.  I’m also hoping to consolidate the work i’ve done already, finding out more about individuals (such as the matron i wrote about), or going back further/finding modern day relatives.

Mum pointed out in a conversation earlier today that i’m very good at writing, and that i really should make more of that. So that’s something else to think about.

Photography is something else i need to consider. I’ve taken so much pleasure in taking photographs just out walking, creating a beautiful picture, that this is really something i need to explore. I’d like to walk further afield with Jess (which is difficult because i get nervous on unfamiliar ground without support) but also to visit places locally (similar problem!) and explore.

I’d also like to decorate our home a bit more this year. the bathroom and hall have never been decorated since we moved in, and the painting that was done in the living room, bedroom and kitchen is looking a bit sad now. a few cans of paint wouldn’t cost much and could be done quite easily over the summer. As part of that i’d also like to get material to make new curtains for the living room. we could do with replacing some of our bedroom furniture (which doesn’t make the best use of space) so i am keeping my eyes out for some second hand pieces of furniture. I might get lucky soon.

Health and Diet

This is something we’re both pretty determined to work on this year. a lot of the other aims feed into it: eating more simply, from the garden, will do so much to help our health, and the exercise gained from working in the garden will help as well. I want to walk further afield with Jess and the camera, that will feed into the exercise thing. I think the way to success is a) doing it (which i am so very very bad at doing!) and b) understanding where i go wrong: i hate exercise for exercise’s sake, so i need to do things that make me exercise, like walking jess, gardening, taking photographs.

In tandem with all this its important that i work on my self-confidence and dress. dressing well is so crucial to feeling good about yourself, and feeling good about yourself crucial to your self confidence that this is something i can’t really afford to neglect. All too often i neglect me in favour of things that need doing, or just pull on any old thing since only Michiel is going to see me that day.

Overview

What makes me really excited, writing all this, is the way that all these things feed in with each other. It feels very organic, like it fits, and it feels like it has a big chance of working. it feels like i’m on the right path for me – building on what i’ve done in the last year, building on the stability i’ve gained in the last few years in a very positive way. Its exciting, positive, and i can’t wait for the new year to start so i can get on with it!

the real test of course, is whether, in a year’s time, i can look back at this and feel a sense of accomplishment, that i achieved all i want to achieve.

2007 has been quite a good year, for me, i think. Its seen some improvement in personal matters, in health, confidence, emotional happiness. I’ve done a lot of growing, in a good way.

The Blog

The end of January saw me starting this blog. Its been a wonderful thing: a record of what i’ve been doing, but also a way to communicate with people, both those i know through the ‘net and those i know in RT. It’s helped me to forge a better connection with my mom, i know she gets a lot out of reading this. Its developed in some ways into a photo journal, quite different to how i started out (commenting on lots of “green” issues), and while i love the photojournal part of it, and will continue with that, i also want to get back to focusing on green issues too. That problem just ain’t going away. I did experiment with a “photo a day” but that didn’t really work for me, and i think i’m happier with the balance i’ve got now.

Events

February saw us going to the Chinese State Circus, a treat from mom we really enjoyed. In the middle of February, we celebrated our 4 year anniversary, but on the same day got the news that my aunt died. The following week saw me going to the funeral, which was sad, but uplifting in a way. Mom and dad came to visit in April, and I joined the “blogging against Disabilism” day with my entry on deafness and Prejudice from your own kind in May. We observed the commemoration of Rememberance Day in the Netherlands on 4th May, as we do every year, and its follow-up, liberation day. Sez came to visit too, and she had a birthday cake – chocolate beer cake!

In June, Jess had a big day out when we walked up to the RSPCA free clinic for her to be checked over: fortunately she got a clean bill of health. I also made mom cry with my father’s day entry (mind you, that ain’t hard). At the beginning of August we travelled to Birmingham for the weekend with Jess on public transport for a family wedding, seeing dad’s family in the process, and my gran (mom’s mom) for a day. the nervousness about leaving the flat unattended and ensuing stress did me in and i was ill for a few weeks after. My glasses got damaged while visiting gran so i had to get some new ones.

At the end of August was my birthday: and the main computer decided to crash so we had to scrabble around to get the finances to replace it. After that we had to tighten our belts anyway as food prices have gone up quite a lot. In September i won an award from Beansprouts for the best One-Patch quilt, which had been made a year previously. At the end of September Mom and Dad came to visit again, to pick up the christmas cake and pudding i made for them, and to get their birthday presents.

In November it was Michiel’s birthday, so he had his buhkit, Sez stopped in overnight, and i had a stinker of a cold. So i made a cake to make myself feel better. I won a composting bin in a competition, then headed down to Brum for a weekend at mom and dad’s, which went very very well. December saw the mad rush for christmas, including having my hair cut, the weather went lovely and frostycold, Christmas came, followed by family on 27th!

The Garden

The Garden has been a major factor in this year. I decided early on to make more of the garden and grow some of my own vegetables. This started in January with requests on freecycle for wood, which i was lucky enough to get in February from someone. The Before photos were posted, i went shopping for the garden, and continued shopping! i started digging in February, and growing, and i got to be a proud momma, repeatedly! i got compost, did more digging in March, finishing one bed, and then got busy digging the other. I got a long polytunnel/cloche, a little mini one, which eventually sort of went up. Don’t think it did much good though. Bought a Greenhouse, played archaeologist, drew up a garden plan, sowed more seeds (and made cake!).

I was proud for scrubbing around in the dirt, dug some more, finishing bed 2 and planting some spuds in the process. In April we got strawberries and keyboards, started on bed 3 and the sweetpea bed (which never got finished – bed 3, i mean). Tidied the garden up, dug a hole for the greenhouse, got all competitive over my babies, and the spuds grew! more things grew in May, including radishes, and kept growing in June – even the bits i didn’t want to grow! Towards the end of June i started to see rewards for my efforts – a couple of strawberries – but the garden, on the whole, was looking really good. In July i struggled, didn’t get much done or blogged, but i did get some stuff done, and harvested some spuds!

At this point it was as good as it was going to get: between the weather (raining), the slugs (millions) and the stress of going away making me ill meant nothing got done in the garden in August and it suffered accordingly. However, things continued to grow despite my neglect and by September i’d taken more photos and things were ripening. However, towards the end of September the first vestiges of Autumn came along: i pulled the tomato plants down. The garden looked very empty after that. i did try to plant some more seeds in the hope that i’d get a harvest before really bad weather hit but the slugs got it all. I’ve been planning for next year too: bought some bulbs, planted them up, along with some cyclamen and polyanthus.

At this point with regard to the garden: could do better. Will do better. Its been hampered by the terrible weather we had last summer and my periodic gaps in care for the garden, but hopefully next year will be better.

Environmentalism & Sustainability

This year’s efforts towards being more environmentally friendly and sustainable was a bit hit and miss. I intended all year to – at some point – make my own sanitary pads, hankies and so on, which i never got round to doing and really *must* do. On the other, i grew some of my own food, tried to live more simply and cheaply, and won a compost bin, and started to use it. So its getting there. Slowly. Oh! I’ve been collecting my hair and Jess’s hair all year and come spring, it’ll be going out there for the birds. SanFran banned the plastic bag, Modbury and Brighton followed, canvas bags took off! Who next, i wonder? On the other hand, some things don’t change. Stagecoach is still dumping free tickets, Manor Gardens Allotments sadly closed earlier this year.

I started to take photos of the surrounding area, in spring, and which developed into something bigger in the Autumn, following the Autumn equinox. This is something i’m really proud of and intend to continue into the new year.

Craft work

I haven’t done a lot with regard to craft work this year. Most of my efforts with regard to that have been with card making, which i’ve done a lot of – the wedding stuff, birthday cards, yet more birthday cards, christmas cards (lots of christmas cards!).

I’ve done quite a lot of baking – not only cakes and cinnamon rolls, but absolutely gorgeous damson jam, plum jam (two kinds!), strawberry jam, raspberry jam, onion marmalade and hot crab apple and chilli jelly (using crab apples from the garden). Even came up with a nice way of labelling the jars. I’ve made preserves: bread and butter pickles, pickled onions… reorganised the kitchen in the process, and at the end of September, got a huge box of red peppers and tomatoes and froze the lot, giving me cheap veg all the way through to Christmas. Christmas and the run up to it, of course, meant lots of craft work, from christmas pudding to halloween cookies, fishy cooking, Christmas cakes (five of them – two for mom, one for sez, one for gran, one for us), Christmas decorations, made a new blind for the kitchen, alcoholic drinks like sloe gin, damson gin, limoncello and chilli vodka, mince pies and christmas cookies, and best of all, christmas leftovers!

I’ve also done a major amount of work on the family history project, finding undiscovered relatives, putting it all into essay form, making a family tree.. although the eventual aim for part of it was a christmas present for my grandmother, the research continues – this is never really something that is “finished”, just “as far as you can get at this point”.

Health & Diet

While i haven’t lost any major weight this year, what this year has seen, i think, is a better understanding within myself of my weight issues – learning about how to diet and understanding my emotional connection to food. i don’t just eat to live… i live to eat and that makes dieting more difficult. In addition, i’m coming to understand that the underlying aim in dieting, in the back of my mind, is to try to relive my teenage years again, and i think i’ve been self-sabotaging this because, of course, its not possible to do so, but also because my teenage years hurt so much at the time, i don’t want to live through that hurt again. I want a do-over, but i don’t want the hurt. I want the things i should’ve had at the time. And part of growing up is accepting that those days are gone and i won’t experience certain things.

I also have to accept that there are periods where i struggle, and that a lot of that is related to diet and general health. I did try to get the doctor to investigate but i think they just see a fat woman and don’t bother with anything else. i suspect i’m doing just enough to keep me on the right side of healthy in many cases, that if i was just a bit less proactive in doing some things then i’d be sorted out by now. I really need to get this looked at again, cos the problems i wrote about then haven’t gone away.

At the same time i’m understanding that the key to exercise, for me, is not exercise for exercise’s sake. i dislike exercise, its associated with too many negative things for me, but on the other hand, if i happen to exercise while doing other things, then that’s cool. Like walking Jess. I walk her almost every day now, and i feel much much better for it, so that’s something i need to expand on: exercising indirectly, doing things that are fun, rather than obligatory.

I think for the most part, my diet is okay. Yes. I need to cut out the sweets and stuff (which i’ve been eating far too much of over christmas) but honestly, most of the time i can’t afford junk food and rubbish like crisps or pop. it just needs tweaking, and the nurse gave me some ideas for it when i saw her back in June, including portion control.

Overview

Basically, as good as the year has been, i cannot look at it and help but think.. “could do better”. maybe that’s me being typically harsh on myself, but there’s so much else i want to achieve, and i know i can do better. Anyway. Next blog entry for all that… now i know where i’ve been, i can work out where next to go!

… the leftovers.

Specifically, turkey sandwich.

Specifically, turkey, sage and onion stuffing, cranberry sauce, mayo and lettuce sandwich.

Specifically: this one.

TOTALLY yum.

Of course, a follow up post is to come in a few days, entitled: ~ the worst thing about Christmas… ~ (- the leftovers. :D )

My family visited today, a long day, but a good one. Started with me getting up at 6.00am to cook the turkey, including the tiles behind the cooker crashing to the ground around 8.00am!! We’ll be getting the housing repairs team out to look at that. The turkey was cooked to perfection, the gravy was gorgeous, everyone ate their fill, with christmas pudding for afters or trifle and it was wonderful. It was great to see my parents and grandmother; gran loved the family history which has been such a secret for so long, and her family tree! Mom and Dad liked their presents too, i think, and i had lots and lots of seeds (including some really unusual cool varieties – a post about that will be coming up in the next few weeks, i hope, about my plans for 2008′s garden), some great books (Robert Harris’s Ghost, Nigel Slater’s Toast) and a DVD (Harry Potter IV!) and Michiel had some great books too (Confessor, by Terry Goodkind, which i have stolen from him, Richard Hammond’s biography) and a couple of great DVDs – Pirates of the Carribbean III, Long Way down, so we’re looking forward to seeing those.

Apart from the tiles, the only other bad thing was when we returned to the flat after waving the parents off – Jess had stolen the turkey leftovers, pulled it onto the floor and made a mess!!! She was in the doghouse for about half an hour afterwards, although we did forgive her. She had her bone taken off her, and she won’t get the special dinner we were planning to do her (save it for new year instead).

and now, with a house full of food, two extremely tired people (Michiel only got 3.5 hours sleep last night) .. i’m going to spend the next few days doing precisely nothing. Well. not nothing, but reading books, watching DVDs, and mooching around, doing very little. Until i feel rested, better, and bored out of my mind. probably in about a week, i think. LOL.  Certainly we’ve both decided that come the new year, we’re going to make concerted efforts to get into shape, there’s the garden to sort out and make more of next year, and some other aims too. Fee Fi Fo Fum.. i smell a new year’s resolution coming on!! but that’s a post for next time, i think…

Its now “christmas eve”, in the sense that all the last minute stuff has been done. The mince pies are cooling, the kitchen floor is washed, all that remains is to move the living room round a bit, and go to bed.

Photos to share behind the cut.

(more…)

I would like to wish everyone who reads this blog a very very Merry Christmas, and I hope that 2008 brings you all everything you desire.. I would like to extend grateful thanks to everyone who has read or commented over the last year on this blog – your support has been invaluable!
Merry Christmas!!
Kethry, Michiel and Jess
xx

Despite the fact that today is christmas eve, there’s just no stopping for a busy girl! Some of these photos i’ve not been able to share till now: I’ve got mom’s promise that she won’t look at the blog until after 27th, now, so i can post these without worrying that she’s going to see them. And if she does. MOM! YOU PROMISED!!!

Not the end of Christmas photos though – I still have mince pies and christmas cookies to do, at the very least!  For me, though, in culinary terms, the 27th is christmas day – that’s when i do the big turkey etc., and have to have everything presentwise done for. So i’m a few days behind everyone else.

Photos behind the cut, as usual.

(more…)

The UK has been having some cold and frosty weather for the last couple weeks, although the high pressure shows signs of moving today (its been horribly drizzly this afternoon). Clear, sunny skies, very cold – quite christmassy, almost. And it makes for the most gorgeous photos.

And of course, i took some.. and of course, I’m sharing. with the appropriate carol.  Behind the cut. as always….

(more…)

well, our christmas cake is done. I think it looks gorgeous. I can’t wait to eat it. As with mom’s the brandy is strong enough to knock someone dead at 30 paces. I guess Dad can’t have any then, as he’s driving.. Just glazed nuts and fruit on the top, around the candle holder. Simple, yet devastatingly effective. More christmas photos to come… keep checking back!

Don’t be fooled – its bigger than it looks.. 8 inches square. We’re going to be eating this for a while, i think.. 
Closeup of the cake. Recipes: cake was Delia’s Classic Christmas Cake, the glaze came from her glazed fruit or glazed nut topping, but i’ve combined the two to come up with my own style.

Hair’s a funny old thing. Whether you cut it, grow it, cut it short, cut it long, dye it, comb it over, pin it up, wear it down, plait it, dreadlock it… hair is so integral to people’s self-confidence. We all need good hair, although the definition of what “good” may be differs from person to person, of course.

When i was 15, i had short hair. very short hair. Spiky short hair. this was back in the 80s, I had glasses that were big and round, the frames were multicoloured, red on the outside where the frame joins the arm, yellow over the nose, blue and green on the other side of each round part. I thought i looked the bees knees. But at the same time, other girls had long hair. I suppose, looking back, in retrospect, i didn’t really feel attractive/girly enough to have long hair, that i “deserved” the care, as well as liking the convenience of short “wash, brush and go” hair… but i always loved long hair. Especially hair done up in the style that was almost everywhere at the time – a french plait. I thought it was wonderful. I tried doing it to myself a few times when i had long hair, but i always ran out of fingers.

so today, when i had my hair cut, and we could afford the little bit extra for me to have it washed and blow dried.. i turned to the hairdresser and said.. “I know its a bit silly but.. do you know how to do a french plait?” it turned out she didn’t but the much younger girl who washed my hair did, so my hairdresser cut and blowdried my hair, and the other girl braided it. It looks lovely (Michiel took a photo which i will upload later) and .. well. I feel like i’ve been given a bit of a do-over. Its a lovely feeling and helps to go some way towards addressing some of my teenage angst. In fact i was so relaxed i decided not to go to Ashton (as was my original plan) and fight through christmas crowds – i went to the butcher (not far from the hairdressers), picked up the christmas ham, went to Lidl for a few things then came home. This afternoon i’m going to clean the kitchen from top to bottom, in preparation for christmas cooking :)

For now, though, i feel pretty.. oh so pretty..

Next Page »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.