…it never ends!

“Like the cleaning of a house…it never ends…”

                                                                        ~ The Simpsons

 

I’ve spent most of my adult life “doing the housework”,  often with a soundtrack and then loving that brief period of time when “it’s done”.  I’ve tried to create time for myself by doing schedules, having set times for certain jobs, and following tips from Pinterest…..but I still have tons to do at the weekend.  I’m always in the mindset of “get the housework done” in one big session.  And there we have the paradox ~ even when it’s done, it’s not “done”.  It never ends.

I think a lot of these marathon clean up sessions come from having little kids.  Not in the way that they are messy and need to be cleaned up after – although there is an element of that.  But I think a lot of it stems from the constant stream of visitors.  From nursery school up until secondary school your kids have a lot going on socially!  The pressure of not wanting to be judged by people is quite intimidating.  You want your family to see you are coping and your in-laws to not be in a position to make any snarky comments.  Not to mention the parade of parents from school accompanying their kids on play dates and parties.  The majority of whom are complete strangers to you!

Wayne Dyer said something along the lines of, if you can’t change something then change your attitude about it.  Not always feasible but it works sometimes!  This weekend I changed my mindset and didn’t set out to “do” the housework.  I did a few bits throughout the day knowing it’s a never ending story. (Is that song stuck in your head now!?)

So  it was weird but instead of being a whirlwind all morning and then being too shattered to do anything else all day,  I did a few small “me” projects.  Nothing amazing, but just a few things that didn’t take long and were interspersed with jobs round the house. I put some herb seeds in, started lace knitting, got my collage stash out, and made some crisps.  It was a really nice weekend.  And for the first time in ages I did something for me without feeling guilty!

Then I read this article about the 20/10 method which made me laugh but at the same time made a bit of sense.  Our ideas on housework are unrealistic and let’s face it we spend an awful amount of time on something we never put on Instagram…ha ha ha…

Lainey x

 

The Power of Failing

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently”

                                                                             ~ Henry Ford

As a kid I wanted to be an illustrator.  I made up rubbish stories just as way to draw the pictures for it.  I made comics and posters and even covers for books.

Then I got to the age where you stop seeing improvement.  I read about it in the Betty Edwards book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain”.  I think when we get to about eleven, we stop registering our improvement, drawings don’t look how we see them in our minds and we stop.  Or we allow ourselves to be talked out of drawing.

Last year I started an online drawing course with London Art College.  Basic drawing.  It should take about three months.  The tutors are amazing, the course is jam packed with techniques and exercises.  Well worth the money.

I did the first two assessments with good feedback and I have one assessment left to do.

I am “failing”.

My last assessment drawings are of hands and figures.  I can’t do it and it’s blocking me from doing anything else.

I’ve decided to fail myself.  These last few exercises are not enjoyable and are putting me off advancing with my drawing.  I want to draw houses, bunnies, and flowers!  Not hands.  What happens if I stop?  Nothing really.  The certificate is for leisure purposes,  I still have the course and the materials I bought.

There are many positive things to take away from all of this.  Knowing what I don’t like to draw has helped me focus on what I do want to draw.  I’ve realised that I’m rubbish at distance learning (so I won’t be applying for that online degree anytime soon!) and that I don’t have the discipline for deadlines!

However I’ve learnt that I still want to draw and I’m focused on what I want to practise now. And more importantly I can move forward.

Lainey x

 

Happy 2019!

“Listen.  I wish I could tell you it gets better.  But, it doesn’t get better.  You get better.”

                                                                                                    ~ Joan Rivers

 

Can’t wait to slam the door on 2018.

To top off a crappy year I’ve been laid up with flu since Christmas Eve!  Instead of a busy “let’s sort my life out” break I’ve had a much needed (though at first, unwanted!) lazy holiday.  I’ve really enjoyed relaxing, pottering around the house, surrendering to the TV, and knitting.  I’ve enjoyed not “sorting my life out” and not thinking about my poor abandoned blog…

The big plans I had for this blog are now gone.  With a few tweaks I’m now celebrating a little blog.  A chilled out, unplanned mess of a blog with a view to getting myself back on a creative path.

Can’t wait to open the door to 2019.

Happy new year to everyone!  I truly hope that you have a healthy, peaceful, loved up 2019.

Lainey x

 

Mincemeat Cake

“It looked like the world was covered in a cobbler crust of brown sugar and cinnamon.”
― Sarah Addison Allen, First Frost 

Too early (for some!) to mention the “C” word but I’m sure no one would begrudge me sneaking a mincemeat recipe into the WP ether…

I’m very high maintenance when it comes to mince pies.  Pastry has to be right, the ratio of filling to pastry has to be right and that ratio is different for everyone.  But I found a perfect mincemeat cake recipe that is so lovely and you don’t have to worry about that sweet spot for everyone.

It’s from a website called Frugal Feeding  – in fact have a good root around his site as it has a lot of interesting recipes.

Ingredients:

 

• 175g butter

• 100g light muscovado sugar

• 3 eggs

• 225g self-raising flour

• 300g homemade mincemeat

• a healthy pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

• a pinch of ground cloves

• ½ tsp ground cinnamon

• ½ tsp ground ginger

Cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs one at a time.    Mix in the mincemeat and then fold in the flour and spices.   Bake at 190/gas mark 5 for 40 to 50 minutes.

Make sure it’s a good sized cake tin.  I popped mine in a loaf tin and it burnt around the edges.  Fun tip; always do what the recipe says….lol.

Anyway despite getting a bit burnt, it was delicious and I didn’t have to worry about anyone complaining about pastry to filling ratio!

Yes.  It smelt like Christmas…

Lainey x

Mind, Body, and Bread

[Breadmaking is] one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world’s sweetest smells… there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of
meditation in a music-throbbing chapel. that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.”
~  M.F.K. Fisher

 

The last week or so has been a bit mentally draining.  It’s exam year  and back to school has felt a bit more stressful than usual.

September is usually my “New Year” ~  Autumn always feels like a new start with renewed energies, this year I just want to hibernate!  I’ve got my last set of assessment drawings to do for my online drawing course, and my list of jobs is just getting bigger.

So after a week of us all having flu and feeling rubbish I thought bread and soup would hit the spot.

I used to have a bread maker, it was always so easy to pop the ingredients in and let it do it’s thing.  The thought of doing all the kneading and proving always seemed too much like hard work. But since it broke I never had the inclination/money to replace it  However, I found a great basic bread recipe on the back of a tin of yeast I bought a few months ago and I’ve usually got time to make it after work.

It’s from Allinsons’ Easy Bake yeast.

  • Mix together 500g bread flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, and 7g dried yeast.
  • Rub in 1 tablespoon of soft butter till it looks like breadcrumbs.
  • Mix in 300ml of hand-warm water with a cutlery knife.
  • Knead for 10 minutes.
  • Pop back in bowl, cover and leave to prove for about an hour.
  • Gently knead it 5 times, shape, and leave to prove till doubled in size.  Depending on how warm it is this can take about 45 minutes.
  • Bake for 30 minutes at 200/gas mark 6.

Sometimes I’ll throw in some herbs or seeds if I’ve got any in.

Not the prettiest looking meal!

 

The soup we have quite often and it started out years ago as something cheap and quick I could do for my hubby when he worked shifts.  I don’t even have a proper list of ingredients or method!  I would just use about a pint and a half of water, throw in some vegetable Bouillon – about 2 teaspoons.  Bring it to the boil and then put in 200g red lentils, 2 chopped large carrots, 1 chopped medium onion, 1 chopped small potato, and a splash of tomato puree.  Simmer for about 40 minutes.

It’s not pretty but it is cheap and tasty.  Just what we needed!

Lainey x

Lemon Courgette Cake

“Freedom is… not to be bound by my wounds. And to be able to eat cake every day.”

                                              Amanda de Cadenet

 

Last week was Zero Waste Week and although I didn’t sign up and officially participate it helped get me thinking.

We have been shopping a bit better recently and although I’m not doing meal plans in a strict sense we are organising meals around ingredients “use by” dates and trying to make sure we throw less away.

We still have a few things ending up in the bin so recipes from leftovers are starting to come in very handy!

One thing we tend to have a lot of is courgettes and I found a great recipe for a cake.  Made with courgettes.  My first thought was eugh(!), but then I really needed to try it.

The recipe I tried was here at  allrecipes.co.uk

It’s really simple to make, and takes 45 minutes to bake with about 10 minutes to prep.

Ingredients:

200g (7 oz) grated courgette

150g(5 oz) caster sugar

1 egg

125ml (4 fl oz) vegetable oil

200g (7 oz) plain flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons lemon zest

Method:

Bowl 1 – beat together the grated courgette,  caster sugar,  egg,  vegetable oil.

Bowl 2 – mix the plain flour, salt, teaspoon bicarb,  teaspoon cinnamon, and teaspoons of lemon zest.

Then mix the 2 bowls together and pop in a greased baking tin.  45 minutes at 160 gas mark 3.

This cake looks very unappetising when you first pop it in the oven but when baked does look nice.  The website has a photo with drizzle icing on which makes it look lovely, especially if you’re having friends over! I didn’t do that and it was still tasty.  Watch it closely by the 35 minute mark.  Mine got very dark at 35 minutes but seemed to be no where near done.  I kept testing it (lol!) and it was done at  pretty much spot on 45 minutes.

I think it’s versatile and something I’ll bake quite often.  Pleasant flavours and not overpowering and it has a proper cake texture which would see it go very well with custard.  You could maybe swap the courgettes for carrots and someone in the comments suggested putting in some chopped walnuts/ extra lemon.

On the whole a good find!

Lainey x

 

 

Back to a Routine

“I said I wouldn’t be one of those lunatics kneeling on the floor by the oven… And here I am.”

                                                                         Glenn Cosby ~ contestant GBBO

 

It’s been quiet round here the last couple of weeks, it’s been the last two weeks of the school holiday.  Although we haven’t been away we have had days out, been hiking, binged The Good Place on Netflix, and generally hung out with no routine or real need to know what the time is.

However next week plunges us back into setting alarms, routines, limits on Netflix, and keeping on top of the ironing!  It’s sad but I also love this time of year.  New stuff ready for the new school year.  We’ve kitted out the teen for her last year of school and as usual I’ve treated myself to a little something new. New stationary.  Notebooks to be precise.   I’ll be getting back into my online art course this month and it coincides with the Great British Bake Off returning!  Perfect timing this year.  The recipes and wonderful illustrations by Tom Hovey are the perfect inspirations for me.

 

As my drawing practice has been a bit hap-hazard the last few weeks,  I’ve bought a notebook specifically for a “drawing my day” routine.  Saw the idea on a book by artist Samantha Dion Baker.  A little visual diary to help get into the habit of drawing regularly.

I’ve started my first page and when this cake goes in the oven I’m sure I will also be found kneeling in front of the oven!

Lainey x