Thursday, 14 November 2013

Rant averted!

I was going to have a good moan about living with Fibromyalgia, or one of the 'invisible illnesses' as some of these conditions have been named.  This was in response to being called a 'hypochondriac' by an uncharitable soul!!!  Instead, I will spare you all my opinions and instead suggest a little research into FM, Lupus, ME and many other similar, debilitating conditions.  One page that I can really relate to is this one   http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/  particularly her use of the Spoon Theory to explain how people like me have to plan in order to get through a day.

Generally my attitude is that I won't moan or complain about pain or fatigue so long as you don't push me for an explanation as to why I'd rather stay in and go to bed early than use up any of tomorrows energy!

I've actually said more than I intended, so back to a safer topic, food!!!  I've recently discovered and fallen for the Pioneer Woman, well, her recipes to be exact :D  I decided to try her 'Twice Baked Potatoes' minus a lot of the butter and cream!!! They were wonderful and the perfect accompaniment to my baked lemon chicken, which is mucho simple and tasty.

Pan fry 6-8 chicken pieces.  I use thighs as they're cheap, moist and tasty.

 Add in roughly 8 unpeeled garlic cloves, 8 peeled shallots, a sliced lemon and juice of another lemon.  I had issues for a long time about using unpeeled garlic, but it develops a gorgeous sweet, caramalised flavour in the skin and is a lot milder than crushing or chopping.  Give it a go :D
 Add about a quarter bottle of white wine.  I used up some cheap hock and it was the best use for it!!! Then bring to the boil, add herbs (mixed or just thyme) and seasoning and transfer to a casserole dish, drizzle over a little honey if you like slightly sweeter dishes.  Bake in the oven at around 200C for about an hour, although I usually cook it for closer to an hour and a half so that I can have a good long sit down or do some painting :D
Serve with baked or mashed potatoes and a green vegetable. 

Monday, 7 October 2013

A perfect Summer.

I think it's fair to say that most of us had a pretty good Summer, with just the right amount of rain and sun at just about the right times.  For me though, it was the perfect Summer.  Everything fell into balance with work and family and I got to spend more time than usual tending my garden.

Can you believe how much my little veg plot has grown?  I've extended the edges into the lawn a bit more to make room for the expanding clumps of calendulas and the pumpkin was most vigorous in it's growth!!!
Only one pumpkin to show for all the effort though, but it's enormous!  Even as I type it's beginning to turn a lovely orange and is probably making it's Triffid-like way across the lawn to the house!!! Still, it will save me carrying it far, haha!  Unfortunately, the beans weren't a total success.  The small bush type french beans were lovely and so juicy, but gave way quickly to the slugs.  The Cherokee Trail of Tears that were growing up the wigwam (no pun intended!) were late to flower and were pretty tough to eat too.  I may just let them mature and use the beans in stews.  Many of the herbs have been picked and dried and used in all sorts of potions and potpourris, but mostly in the Dragon bottles for sale in the Studio :D
Of course, with the end of Summer came a few storms, mainly being the ill health of our darling Toffee. A few weeks before he was taken ill, a very unpleasant person came onto our field and poisoned all of our newly planted hedges.  As you can see from this picture, the plants and grass died from most likely a Roundup type spray.  This is highly toxic to all wildlife and very dangerous indeed. I can say no more about this as the matter is under investigation. 
Toffee developed breathing difficulties and the prognosis was grim.  We fought hard to save him, but just a week later he then went down with laminitis which is an inflammation of the laminae in the foot.  Many things can cause laminitis in horses and ponies, often if they're very overweight, have a physical shock to their system or from external issues such as poison.  In Toffee's case all three of these could apply and we may never fully know for sure which factor caused his breakdown.  Severe cases can be fatal!

He still looks tired and run down in this picture, but compared to how terrible he did look, I'm hopeful to think that he's on the mend.  I took him for a gentle walk along the lane today and his breathing was good and he didn't seem to be lame, but it is very early days.
As we move onwards and into Autumn, I'm hoping for a return of the peace we had in the Summer.  May it be so for everyone and of course, we have Christmas to look forward to :D  YES, I said it :D

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Feeling Real.

Today I woke up feeling like I'm really here, which is such a good feeling.  It's hard to explain what I mean, but sometimes when I watch a certain movie or read an old book, I instantly feel like I was the first time I watched/read it.  Do any of you out there feel that?
Bambam and Finn having a cuddle
For example, when I watch 'Practical Magic' I'm immediately taken back 9 years to the person I was then.  Given all the upheavals and life changes that have been going on, it's good to get back to who we feel we are at our very core.



Sunday, 7 July 2013

Finally some gardening progress.

Suddenly a heatwave  hit us right at the time I planned to get out in the garden. Yesterday was the hottest so far, but I'd already decided it was the day I was going to dig up the front garden. I was up in the early hours before it got warm and laid out the shape. As the day progressed I dug out the shape with the help of my wonderful (and strong!) son. We stopped to rest often as the heat was terrible. Finally I took an extended break to bath two very hot and sweaty ponies over at the field. Merlin wasn't as grateful as he could have been!
In time, I want to completely get rid of the lawn in favour of food producing plants.  My aim is to have a pretty cottage garden in which everything grown has a use, from herbals to dye plants and salads to delicious treats.

This morning I was up early again to make the cane supports and plant up the bed with vegetables, herbs and a couple of flowers to encourage bees.


The orange flowers are calendula and the tiny red ones to the left of the picture are diascia, which are a favourite of mine and hopefully bees too :D

This picture below are the flowers that will go in the front border.  These are simply for their brightness and food for bees and butterflies.
Tohki relaxed on the front steps and directed me as needed :D
The next few days will be spent weeding and tidying the back garden, which has romped out of control (again!).  I have sooo many pounds of strawberries to eat and process, what a chore :D

Sunday, 30 June 2013

While I've been working.

The kittens have been growing. Finn is now so much bigger than his mama, Cotton.
I think she's the tiniest cat ever :D

Manchee and Gigi take a break while I get on with some painting.
The seeds have romped away in the greenhouse and now I'm struggling to find places to plant everything.  I have some wonderful herbs growing now, including Wormwood and Angelica :D
I took a much needed break down by the river and Manchee had a tremendous time.
The water was pretty cold, but it felt so good to just soak up the energy and lose myself in the birdsong and giggling splash of water.

This week I'll be back in the Studio, but also finding time to nourish my garden and plant out those seeds. I may even get the time to work the ponies who have become fat and lazy :D

Friday, 29 March 2013

Makeover.

Everything is changing in our world at the moment. I'm still shocked every week at the Supermarket at the rising prices of groceries, not just food, but detergents and household items are rising too. Many of my cleaning items are home made anyway, but pot scourers are now on my luxury item list!!!


As an antidote to the stresses we're all going through, I've decided to give my garden and studio a complete facelift. I need somewhere to chill out and think. Somewhere to do my writing and meditation and where we can all relax as a family. Even the dog seems stressed at the moment!!! I'd really like to make a little sculpture like this one in the path around my tiny pond and I have more than enough pebbles and shells from beach combing, so it won't cost me anything.

I've also taken inspiration from these next two pictures for re-styling the outdoor Studio. As I've moved inside more or less permanently, the outdoor studio will be my writing and meditation room. I'm thinking my finances can stretch to a pot of white paint and I've plenty of edging materials for pathways etc...

I love the profusion of plants in this picture and want to achieve something like it around the studio and greenhouse. I already have so many seeds saved from last year and it's easy to take cuttings from lavender and box, for edging.  I'd also like to make some more willow edging like I did for the front garden. It looks so pretty now that the daffodils are out.


  Finally, this is the image I'm aiming for, haha.  Well, you've got to aim high :D  I'll be working all weekend if the weather permits (fingers crossed) so there should be plenty of pictures and updates of the real thing.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Surprises!

One of these days I'll write a book about my life and it's crazy see-saw events. It goes to show that you should never give up on a dream, maybe change the ingredients a little, but hang in there and stay hopeful. Poor health and money issues seemed set to put an end to my goat keeping, but it's possible that it's not all over yet. I can't say anymore until I know for sure, but for now I've enjoyed spending time with my little goatlings and then on Saturday my sweet goat Yarrow went into labour.

She produced the daintiest little doe kid that I've called Bella. Here she is 10minutes after birth :D
I was so pleased that I had a female and this little girl looks just like her Father, who retired from breeding this year, so a huge bonus.
She's dried out in this picture and looks just like her Mama AND her Father, I'm soooo happy :D

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Under the weather.

For quite some time now I've been very below par, picking up every bug and germ that's crossed my path.  I finally took myself to the Doctor and was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue, probably brought on by the many upheavals in my life.  Changes have to be made and sadly I've had to part with some of my animals in order to survive.

Something that's come out of this has been my return to reading for pleasure.  I've been forced to take time out for me and books have always brought me happiness but instead of reading biographies or training manuals, this time I'm losing myself in the fantasy world of The Woodwife, by Terri Windling.  I can't tell you how great it's been, getting to know these complex characters and sharing the rich, colourful world of the Rincon Mountains.  I feel very inspired to paint the images I see in my head when I'm reading and there are plenty to choose from at the moment :D

Sunday, 24 February 2013

It all went wrong!!!

Remember these guys?  For those of you too young to remember, they're from the Hair Bear Bunch a cartoon way back in the 1970's.  Well after my last post about the no shampoo regime, my hair took on a life of it's own and not only did I look like these bears but I began to feel like one as well!  I was very grumpy and was convinced people were staring at my unruly barnet and you can forget about getting a comb through it, 'cos that was just not happening!  So with a tinge of guilt but a great deal of delight I slapped a tonne of conditioner on and became human again!

So what of the Salad Challenge. Hmmm, that's had problems of it's own.  The biggest one being cat attack!!! One sweetheart in particular has taken to using the salad trays as her own private litter box, so none of us fancied salad after that.  I'm sorting out the greenhouse and will get some photos as soon as it's all in order :D

Life at Oakmoon is never dull, thank goodness :D

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Salad Challenge (and hair!)

At the end of last year I wrote about what I meant about 'Holistic Home'.  I didn't explain it well and to be honest I think the best thing I can do is show you what it means to me.  Holistic means to consider the 'Whole' of something. which to me,  means how my home fits in to everything around it with as small an impact as possible.  It's easier to show what I mean than tell it.

With this in mind, I've decided to take up the '52 Week Salad Challenge'.  My reasons are many, but mainly cost, to me and the environment.  I love a fresh, crunchy salad with my lunch  but often have half a bag left, which gets shoved to the back of the fridge to be discovered a couple of days later, looking most unappetizing.  Why not eat it every day until it's used up?  Well, I can't always plan my days and if I'm called out suddenly to the ponies or have an urgent job or client to see, then lunch is either skipped or whatever will fit in my pocket as I leave the house (sometimes a cream egg!!!). 

If my lunch is growing in the greenhouse, then it's fresh whenever I need it. Also, I hate those plastic bags the salad comes in, they only add to all the other unnecessary packaging thrust at us as consumers.  So I'll be cutting down on waste twice, although I do tend to feed the soggy leaves of wasted salads to my chickens, who are less fussy than me :D

As yesterday was Imbolc, the day celebrated as the start to the new growing year, I took advantage of good weather and set about organising the garden. 

 I used my big bushcraft knife to cut the stakes for this mini hurdle enclosing my front border.  This style of edging I learned while briefly working at the Ancient Farm nearby. It was a method used by Bronze age farmers, so good enough for me :D  Tokhi had to join the photo session!
 This is where I'll be planting all my flowering and medicinal herbs.  So far I've definitely decided on Calendula and Feverfew, but have a few other herb seeds from last year that may be joining them (I've actually forgotten what I bought, so need to go through my seed box!!!)

This is my hair, haha!  You may be wondering 'what on Earth???'  Well, I've decided to join the 'No Poo' challenge which basically means giving your hair a complete break from shampoo and other related products. Click on the No Poo link to read more about it, or you can follow my very dodgy progress here!
The shampoos and soaps we use contain some pretty harmful products, the worst one being  Sodium Laureth Sulphate which is actually a commercial engine degreasing product!!!  This can cause long term damage to our skin, hair and eyes but just google it to read for yourself.  Also, most shampoos coat our hair with silicone to make it manageable, but this causes build up on the scalp and can lead to other issues such as hair loss and dandruff.  So it's worth giving this a go, if you have the patience and conviction, hmm, we'll see if I do!!!
Basically, my hair was washed with 1tablespoon of baking soda in a cup of warm water, rinsed and then conditioned with 2tablespoons of cider vinegar and a couple of drops of essential oil.

Other people who have tried the challenge reported increased oily hair, but mine has gone completely the other way.  As I understand it, my hair and scalp will go through a detox, as my skin adjusts to producing it's own oils, so I may get the greasy's soon, haha!  At the moment though, my hair feels like a matted straw hat, so I'm looking at natural conditioners.  I've decided to play with some essential oils as I have a pretty extensive stock from when I used to sell them (I've had soooo many varied jobs in my life :D )

So, to re-cap, I'll be posting my Salad challenge progress every Friday, and mid week will be my hair progress, even if I fall off the wagon, I'll write about it.  I'm at day 5 with my hair and gave it a second wash last night, it's a lot less like rope today, so fingers crossed I can find a nice blend of oils to nourish it.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

I know now why we blog!


 Picture reproduced without permission (but I'm sure Gretel won't mind!)




For so many years now I've been an ardent blogger, I've defended my decision to share my life with complete and total strangers to people who closely share my real world.  I've tried so many times to explain my reasons for putting my life in words and pictures out to the great expanse of the internet.  Sometimes I've had my trust shaken, but for the most part, I've received support and even affection from this great and wonderful community that makes up Blogland.


Even as I write this, I find the words are a struggle and my eyes are blurred with emotion.  One of my dearest internet friends has suffered a terrible loss that I'm unable to express.  Please join me in support of a dear and wonderful person, Gretel Parker, who needs our love and help at this terrible time.

Over 6 years ago I began my first blog.  Gretel was hugely supportive to me and gave me so much advice about my art and the dedication needed to succeed.  She wrote to me and helped me in so many ways, sometimes just by being her own wonderful self.  I've read similar stories from other bloggers who have been touched by Gretel's kindness.  Please, lets all join together and share the message in the above link.  Please, lets show Gretel how much she is truly loved at this difficult time in her life and show the world what a wonderful caring community Blogland is.  The bonds and friendships we make here are just as real and important as the ones we make with people close to us  in our everyday lives.

(I'm sorry this is on both of my blogs, but I feel it's so important that it's worth repeating!)

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Then came the snow.

Christmas was followed by weeks of constant rain, while I sat (in between trips to fields and stables) re-writing the Reiki training manuals. I quite literally ran out of words.

 In between showers, Merlin and Toffee found the time for a good roll on the only dry paddock.
Then came the snow!  Manchee absolutely loved it. 
He would play in the garden for so long, on top of wild trips to the park and walks around the village that left me with aching legs from trying not to fall over :D
The field was as magical as ever with lots of little footprints in the snow.  The fox prints were so lovely, tiny delicate feet with a swish in the snow where their lovely tail had left it's mark.  There were rabbit and crow prints and I followed some of them to see where they had been looking for food.  The hen house was visited by all, including a few rats!!!

Merlin love the snow, can't you tell :D

At home, the three teenogres made massive snow balls while our neighbours lamp made us feel like we were in Narnia :D
I love this picture so much.  My son in the middle with his girlfriend on the left and Moomin on the right :D
They turned it into an immense snowman while I played on the sledges with my neighbours tiny children.  It was exhausting fun.
Now I'm back to my re-writes while dreadfully missing my Studio.  I need to get back in there as my painting is missing me :D