Tag Archives: winter

Festering political disillusion and Carrotcake Muffins. Whoo hoo.

My garden is very frosty and in some desperate need of attention.  This morning I wandered around it with a cup of tea putting off the washing up which recently, despite the purple bowl, has assumed Sisyphus status with me.

It doesn’t help that the paved bit by the house is covered with stuff. Stuff that needs a skip. Or some kind of organising. Like the defunct fridge freezer adding that whitegoods trash atmosphere to the air.

I was full of good intentions this autumn about gathering up the fallen leaves to bag up for future leaf mould but have instead left it to do its moulding all over the path, plants and minipond. I think I’m in a slight grey slough after a very happy christmas and birthday season.

 Now begins the uphill slog to my birthday. Wasn’t it blue monday yesterday? The statistical low point of the year. Yay…. 

*shuffles feet, has another drag of tea*

I see plenty of loveliness among the clutter. Bare branches reaching into the pale sky makes my heart soar and ache with the patterned architectural beauty. The birds are clearly visible perching and twisting like acrobatic baubles, squabbling over berries .  There is a gang of rowdy tits shoving each other around our bird feeder, fascinating Ida and Mittens who  crouches by the back door lashing her tail ferociously.

The frost has blackened even the bindweed. I know that a mornings red-cheeked work will clear all the wizened overgrowth into my green bin leaving a clear canvas for my bulbs and this year’s garden dreaming.

I admire the uneven patio area under the pergola. Progress is like the tide coming in isn’t it? Three steps forward, two back, two forward, one back. On and on, creeping along.

 It fits with my experience of living with depression as well. Sometimes walking, sometimes crawling. Some nights giving all you  have to cling to the rock face. To stay still. Then other times letting yourself drift back with the swell, taking a breath, biding your time to start swimming upstream again.

I also think all the recent washing up has exposed me to too many politicians on Radio4. I feel incensed and kind of powerless. Never a good combination. Most recently I’ve been internally turmoiling over all the Worrell Thompson media coverage and comparing his celebrity caution with some of the sentencing handed out to teenagers shoplifting during the summers rioting.

Yes, yes – I know it’s not the same – taking a bottle of water during a riot is a different proposition but once again I reflect on how sentencing data would look pushed through a class filter. This ties in with a deeper rage against Cameron’s proposal dealing with “problem families” the language of which physically turned my stomach.

May I humbly suggest, tugging my fucking cap and all that, that he could lift his blinkered gaze to the system that has grown these “problem families.” Although the money thrown at this problem will surely be welcomed by the agencies and charities on the frontline applying pressure on the critical wounds, it’s like spending a fortune on the rash and not curing the virus that’s causing it. Or feeding the starving then sending them back to the ravished homelands. I could go on.

Above all it was the emotive, media spun, them and not us, disgustingly elitist and evidently ignorant language that truly turned my stomach. My feeling of dislocation from the etonesque boys who govern me grows ever stronger. Like a splinter in my hand it festers.

So I made some cakes.

I’d recommend these, they’re lovely. Do-able with a small helper as well.

Carrotcake muffins.

You need..

100g of sugar. Brown is best, I use whatever I have, today; muscovado.

175ml sunflower oil.

220g flour (plain)

2 eggs

tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon (or mixed spice, sometimes I add ground ginger as well)

citrus fruit zest. Lemon or orange – or both

150g grated carrot (about 2)

something else. About 100g. Walnuts, mixed peel, sultanas etc

Mix the sugar and oil together.

Add the eggs.

Add the flour, spices and bi-carb and baking powder.

Fold in the grated carrot, zest and whatever you’re adding that’s extra. In this case, left over mixed peel.

Slop Spoon generously into muffin cases.

Cook in a medium oven until golden and a knife comes clean. About 20 minutes.

I iced these with a lime icing. Just icing sugar mixed with lime juice.

They definitely soothed the savage beast. That and tea with friends and a couple of chapters of the Snow Spider on the sofa with Zeph.

Have yourself a very merry Christmas…


Possibly one of my favourite things ever.

Our Christmas tree. Every year I see-saw over the price and the general non-greenness. Worries which I assuage by making a more environmental friendly, locally gown choice which ups the price but I usually capitulate to my inner child.

It’s probably our biggest christmas expenditure and it makes me so overwhelmingly happy. On a very skint year I can substitute a big bundle of branches or the bay tree in a pot from the garden but really, look – isn’t it toe-curlingly beautiful?

The smell is heavenly though I openly yearn for the Victorian candle clips I remember from my Nannie’s tree as a very small child which add a heady mix of toasted pine resin, bees-wax and candle smoke.

So far I haven’t convinced Steve who, although far from a health and safety enthusiast, says he has to draw the line somewhere. We have a happy mix of eclectic decorations though. Many homemade, a couple by me as a child. Some were gifts from my parent’s collection when I left home and we try to buy or make a new one every year.

This one is my very favourite;

 Bought on Zeph’s first birthday it’s the one I always look for first in the mass of tissue paper all our precious baubless are wrapped in. We managed to dress the tree on Steve’s day off this year so we all got to squabble over the lopsided robin, christmas robot and the sparkly pig and tell the story of each purchase and battered handcrafted effort.

We started with the Nightmare Before Christmas on in the background which Zeph watched obsessively as a toddler but swapped to The Snowman when Ida took against Sally in a big way.

This is Ida and I at the front of the bus on the way to see Jack and the Beanstalk. Steve’s lovely sister gave us a family ticket for christmas which was a brilliant present. Apart from Ida now having a giant phobia which causes trouble at night when she wakes up confused from a nightmare and mistakes Steve for the giant, (it’s the beard.) 

I’m feeling remarkably festive. Yesterday was my dad’s sixtieth birthday and we had a tea party. It was a perfect get together and I feel loved and loving as I always do after time with my family.

Tomorrow we have more visitors and I’m baking a ham which means the house smells of treacle and cloves and I feel bountiful on the food front. It’s raining heavily outside but I don’t think we need to leave the house now for the next couple of days and I have a deliciously cosy feeling of having pulled up the drawbridge fully provisioned and surrounded by my best-loved people.

With everything made, finished and wrapped I’m turning my mind to the end of the year and the start of the new. Although I haven’t kept up my post-a-day momentum from the beginning of my blog it is still a big and vital part of my life.

I have *met* the most fantastic people through it and had wonderful comments which have healed me and sustained me in a way I’m sure the givers have no idea of. I logged on today to post this and found a lovely blog award from Sharyn at The Kale Chronicles which I can’t wait to post about.

More than that it’s opened a space up in my head and helped me carve out time for my writing habit. I’ve been inspired by so many people to grow, cook, sketch, do things with my children – to notice the world around me – and I feel immensely blessed and full of hope and cheer.

So I just wanted to wish you all the Christmas you want, be it sparkly, festive, peaceful, spiritual or reflective. The sun is returning, the babe is reborn – let’s be full of love and hold back the dark and the cold together.

Merry Christmas!

Frosty Morning

 Oh it’s a very cold day here today. This morning was more than usually hard due to a very patchy nights sleep. If it wasn’t Steve coughing and wheezing like some nightmarish germ-ridden steam-punk engine it was Ida who had a series of troubling dreams.

I’d sat up too late finishing some more wings so was pretty tired to begin with which meant I was even slower on the uptake in reassuring her about her dreams which seemed to centre around some sandwiches being stolen, a christmas tree walking around downstairs and The Number Taker (damn you numberjacks.)

Although I don’t love how upset she is I do love that her language skills have upped to the point were she can tell me what she’s wailing about. I also love when you can see where the dream has seeded from. I can’t identify the sandwich trauma but I do recognise the tree from Mog’s Christmas which is one of her current favourite picture books and who wouldn’t be unnerved by the Number Taker? In fact he got jumbled up in my dreams and I woke sweating at 5am from one that involved him, christmas shopping and not being able to open my eyes because they’d been sewn up. *shudder*

Getting in from a very cold walk to school has clearly triggered some kind of hibernating cooking instinct. As I write there’s a plum jam steamed pudding and lentil soup steaming and simmering  on the oven top. I might even put dumplings in the soup…

Steve even grudgingly agreed to put the heating on which means Ida and I don’t have to hang out round the sewing machine in coats.

 Last night Zeph helped me pack up these teacup pincushions. They’re now wrapped up in cellophane and looking very pretty piled on top of the piano. It helps ease the pain of breaking into my teacup collection. I can’t resist them in charity shops and jumble sales much to Steve’s disapproval. Finally the raggle-taggle collection under the bed has been put to a satisfying use.

They’re voting today in Egypt. I think of it hopefully. Thin ends of wedges, small steps on long journeys and all that. It’s my best BT of the day and I send optimism up into the air and blow it their way.