Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Leaping into action

Well, the title is a lie but it is an unavoidable pun when thinking about tomorrow's date. Radio 4's PM programme has been urging us to take a leap for the leap year - so will I rise to the challenge?

In a word No! My life is on slow burn at the moment. I don't do resolutions, although once I arranged a midsummer dawn visit to Avebury for a would be pagan friend of mine (who stood up both us and her putative beliefs). My Wiltshire bf and I ended up by making simple but life affirming vows that, by and large, have kept our lives on track. (If you are asking, mine was not to take the Hubster fore granted).

I got post natal depression with the Pickle - not when I was looking out for it, in the early months - after about a year. My career had not survived adverse politicking when I was away on maternity leave, I was living with step children who were convinced that we/I really hated them (never got to the bottom of this conundrum), motherhood had confronted me with a whole heap of issues from my well buried past and, possibly most critically, the Pickle did not sleep for more that a couple of hours at a time in all that period. I was baffled and frustrated that my usual optimism had deep fissures!

This time around I did not want to repeat the heartache and calculated that things were not on my side - with a newborn and five year old I would be busy and the age of austerity could diminish any help available. I hauled my ripe belly to a lovely local charity and did the kind of emotional health check that I had read about in the excellent 'The f*** you up your family' by entering six weeks of counselling.

Since then I have been plodding purposefully. A friend gave a mantra 'you are the change you want to be'. It may be based on something Gandhi said, I am not sure, but the gist is that I need make a difference to my own life!

I won't turn whirling dervish tomorrow, although I expect if I did the Pickle would find that highly amusing, but I will keep on plodding! I have a bit of a game plan and tomorrow is another day that will bring me closer to my goal. Yes, I did say game plan - and games are meant to be fun. If may focus my mind and, if I make a few long distance calls to reengage drifting friendships, that sounds good too.

What about you? Business as usual or a great leap forward?

Monday, 27 February 2012

A Charm String

I had two favourite books as a child, The Secret Garden and The Charm String. The charm string was published by a library in Indiana so perhaps you may not have read it. I had a mad idea to write my own amateur version of a special little girl and to build a real silver charm bracelet with a charm from each story. With the first story I sent a silver bracelet and a star charm. The response has been a little luke warm - but then as I am going out onto a limb so I may be a little sensitive.

I have a draft for an Easter story - is it worth pursuing or is it just personal naval gazing? I would really appreciate any gentle feed back!

Do you want to hear about Lula's star? Well snuggle up close and let' s head to Fairyland where Jennilee is waiting. Wave your wand...what you don't have a wand? I forgot, we need to cast the spell, so repeat after me:

 'Kisses and cuddles, flowers and trees,
Fly me to fairyland on a glittery breeze'

Here we are. Look over there, on that toadstool, there is Jennilee - but she is looking sad. Her human friend Lula has a special star and she wants to make it twinkle just for her. Queen Titania had given her some fairy dust to sprinkle on the star, but how can she reach it?

She is only a young Fairling and her wings were very weak until she grews up to be a fairy, so the only thing she can do is to run and jump up to the star. How hard can that be? What do you think?

She runs, faster, faster, faster and jumps....flop, ow! She lands with a bump. No, she has to try harder....she runs faster, faster, faster, jumps an even bigger jump and...FLOP! OW! She lands on her bottom once more. And again, she runs up as fast as possible, faster, faster, faster,  jumps a huge jump and....flop OUCH!

'Ribb-hee-hee-t! Ribb-heee-ha-ha-t!'

What is that noise?


There is goes again. Listen closely, it is a laughing frog and he looks as if he has something to tell Jennilee. 'No..ho..ho' he laughs, 'no, no, ho, ho, he, he, hee. You will never get up to the stars like that. But, I can help you, as everybody knows that frogs can jump higher than anyone or anything.'

After a little thought Jennilee hands over the fairy dust and watchs the frog go. Boing, boing, BOING! Up and down, higher and higher he bounded.

'It is no...puff..good...pant! No...wheeze....I can't reach that star.' The exhausted frog admits between huge gasps for breath.

'But where is the fairy dust?' asks Jennilee.

'Let...huff...me get...puff...my breath back.' he gasps. 'While I was up near the clouds I saw a beautiful dove, and told her about the problem of Lula's star and she promised to help so I gave her the fairy dust. If we sit here we should see the star twinkle in no time.'

As they sit down to watch the star, down swoops the dove - but the star is STILL not twinkling. The dove smiles and tells her story of flying up, up, past the clouds and into the sky.

Just as her wings were aching, and she thought that she could not go on, a spaceman passed her on his way into space. Being a kind spaceman he stopped for a chat. The dove told the spaceman about meeting the frog, who was helping a fairy, who was helping to make Lula's star twinkle and immediately the spaceman offered to help.

Jennilee is very quiet as she hears the story so the frog and the dove wait for her to say something. Suddenly she lets out a squeal of delight. 'Look, look, it is Lula's star. It is twinking and it is beautiful. But...' she says looking sadly at her toes 'did I cheat? Queen Titania gave me the fairy dust and as hard as I tried I could not reach Lula's star.'

Queen Titania who had been quietly listening steps forward  'Of course you did not cheat! We can all reach the stars, just sometimes we need our friends to help us. Just like the links of a chain, if we work together we can make our own magic.'

With that she gives Jennilee a big hug, a bit like this. HUG!

So.... Shall I do the next instalment ( remember this is personal dialogue with a special little lady not a high faulting publishing aspiration) or should I just step back onto planet earth?

If I continue any ideas for how to bind then stories as I write them?

Sunday, 26 February 2012

A touch of chintz (how I make cake stands)

A party is a great excuse for me to indulge my sense of drama and creativity. I think that the Pickle has picked it up of me as the day after her birthday party she starts to plan the next one. Sadly my craftiness can not quite follow her flights of fancy, but then Cecil B DeMille may be a little cowed by some of her ideas.

Well, Claire of @Cemjay23 asked me about the cake stand shown in my entry so here are a few of my ideas. What makes a good party? It varies for each of us, but for me I try to spend wisely and I want to be relaxed so what could be better than have home made things that can be made in minutes from components bought from Oxfam for a song?

Paper cake stands can cost a tenner so why not try my version? I bought a pile of the most kitch chintz plates, a few random 1950s cocktail glades and a tube of araldite. Directions? Stick them together with the glasses between the plates - simple!

I made a few three tier stands - easy to make but a pig to look after as the glasses can snap when you wash them. Four years later only the two tier stands survive - but when the investment was about a fiver I can survive!

Add a little drama by candles in matching tea cups and saucers (night lights or melt down the stub ends of candles to make your own) and we are almost there.

A good way to add a colour theme is with balloons and ribbons. I bought a few 100 yard roles of 2 inch poly ribbon from a wholesale florist suppliers for about £1.50arch a few years ago and they are still going strong.

Of course you can go mad with home made bunting but that is a whole different story, and I have not even started to get on the subject of my six month blogging hiatus...

Saturday, 25 February 2012

A fairy tea

It has been a while - I may explain later but it is easier for me if I break my 'blog fast' by ploughing into to the mundane but cute.

The Pickle decided first thing that we should have a fairy tea party. A couple of her books had hidden recipes that were begging to be tested. Well, that was the day sorted: the Pickle was in control (I let that impression last).

For lunch we had to have fairy bacon sandwiches - obviously. Then it was full speed ahead for the banquette. First up were fairy cakes (some aspects had to be predictable). The Bean had his first taste of sugar when he dived at a spoon and wrestled it from my control, at six months he is already built like a rugby forward. Then while the cup cakes cooked we made chocolate leaves (rose leaves dipped in melted chocolate - she chose 70% cocoa solids proper stuff *faints with pride* - the leaves pealed off with he skill of a ninja to leave perfect glossy chocolate leaves).

The next hour was spent with the apprentice fairy singing and animating her cup cakes as she delicately decorated them with a tasteless confection of lurid pink icing and sprinkles. Meanwhile I started steaming the beetroot - the source of ll things pink - over a pan of stock before adding salmon fillets. When cooked I could add cous cous to the puce coloured stock and we were almost there. After battering a pomegranate mercilessly to extract the seeds we had the jewels to crown our meal.

If this was all too tasteful we had to make 'Primrose's secret recipe for dirt fizz'. I tried to find cherryade but it seems that Waitrose is too posh so we had to suffice with a bottle of French pomegranate soda, which was given a reality check with pineapple juice, glacé cherries and cocktail umbrellas.

The Pickle has standards to we raced to dress for dinner, the hubster put a tie over his oil stained t-shirt (MOT time next week), I found an old sequin jacket (as you do) and the pickle was resplendent as a rainbow fairy. The Bean managed to creep under the radar and just wore a clean bib. We then solemnly announced that the banquette would begin and so it did!

Verdict: it was PINK and the fairies can keep their fizz - we prefer water *mops brow with relief* but more than that we had a perfect day.