Saturday, 30 November 2013

48/52



A: Bubbles on the bridge
T: New kicks don't stay white for long

Just four weeks left until 2013 is over. But lots to pack in before then. December always takes me by surprise (actually, each new month is a little like that) and I'm one of the panicked shoppers now wondering what the hell to buy for my nearest and dearest.

Last Sunday was the day traditionally spent stirring up the Christmas pud and cake but I did neither. The times I've made fruit cake in the past I've ended up eating most of it as I live with dried fruit-averse weirdos. This year, we'll probably attempt a yule log or something the kids can help with (baking AND eating), and I'll buy myself a teeny cake as a nod to tradition.

Oh, I do so love this time of year. Not only is it Christmas but it's also my birthday, and I am a fan of both celebrations. Right now I'm putting together an advent calendar for the kiddos (nothing like the last minute) and plotting and planning tree purchases, and pinning like mad to my Christmas board. Have a look, if you fancy.




Joining in with Jodi's 52 project.
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Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Inspired by... / 04

russell brand messiah complex colston hall bristol 2013

No, not Russell Brand. But the woman in the audience who challenged him.

A couple of weeks ago we went to see Russell Brand at the Colston Hall. Not something we'd have bought tickets for, but seeing as Seatwave sent us a pair we were looking forward to it, particularly after Brand's recent run in with Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight. Brand's re-brand as political revolutionary is interesting, both for its audacity and as a challenge to the political establishment; whipping up the disenfranchised youth is all too rare these days. And I've always loved reading his work in the Guardian et al; his brain is his most attractive asset, in my opinion.

Part of Brand's schtick is to hop off the stage and roam about the audience, having a chat with willing participants. I'm desperately shy when it comes to things like that but some brave soul, after twenty minute or so of the show, heckled Brand, calling him out for being sexist.

His response was to question her, saying it was a common belief about him and that he wanted to know why. One of his defences was to say he is from a working class background and that he might well be sexist without quite realising it. Not sure I buy that one... I guess the heckler got the heebie jeebies at this point and her response wasn't quite enough for Brand who obviously got bored and moved on, bouncing off to find some other audience member by whom to be distracted.

Quite out of character, I wished he would come over to me in order that I could pick up where they'd left off. My view of his act is that he's deeply focused on the way women look. I know it's an act - one I've seen in newspapers or on TV - but I naively thought things would be different live. Instead, he appeared lascivious and predatory. In contrast to Brand's current agenda - that of spiritual awareness, coming from a place of love and peace - he appears to focus solely on women's appearances, and to ascribe major value to this one-dimensional aspect.

During the act, Russell Brand refers to his repeated wins for the Sun newspaper's award for 'Shagger of the Year'; I couldn't help thinking: wouldn't it be something if he joined the No More Page 3 campaign to rid the paper of its daily topless photographs? And, while he's at it, the Everyday Sexism project, if he's genuinely interested in why he's accused of sexism, misogyny or womanising?

I've been meaning to write about No More Page 3 and Everyday Sexism for ages. Both campaigns are just brilliant; they make plain and simple some of the complex concepts at the core of feminism that, in itself, can be so off-putting. Look them up and add your name; these campaigns are reliant on one  voice, of women speaking together to challenge the status quo and to make the accepted, unacceptable: those daily examples of why life is still so different for women than men in this country in 2013.
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Monday, 25 November 2013

47/52




A: He'd rather draw than eat
T: He'd rather run than pose

Joining in with Jodi's 52 project
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Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Autumn bling / an acorn cup tutorial



Every time we go to the woods we come home with rosy cheeks and pockets full of acorn cups. There's something about the scale of an acorn cup that appeals to my inner child; I imagine tiny woodland dwellers picnicking on the forest floor sipping some magical potion from acorn cups, nibbling on a mossy snack. I've been reading too much Faraway Tree, haven't I?

But, despite the stacks of autumn souvenirs brought home, I never know what to do with those little vessels. Last year, I glued shiny bright beads into the cups and hung them from the Christmas tree. This year, we tried something different. This is one of the easiest crafts you could ever wish to attempt; A is 6 and was perfectly capable of both glueing and glittering alongside me.

You will need:
Acorn cups
PVA glue and a brush
Glitter in colours of your choosing
A shallow dish and play dough/plasticine/blu-tack

To make:
Line the base of your dish with your play dough. Squash the acorn cup bases into the dough, so that the inner cup is uppermost.
Then, simply paint your glue into the inside of the acorn cups, a few at a time.
To add the glitter, I poured each colour glitter into a separate sandwich bag and filled each cup with as much glitter as it would take (while holding over the open bag). Tip the excess back out into the bag.
Return acorn cups to the play dough dish, securing firmly, and leave to dry.

These beautiful, blingy trinkets resemble geodes cracked open to reveal shimmering mineral crystals. Each time I walked past my bowl as the acorn cups were drying, I did a double take as they reminded me so much of Quality Street wrappers. 

I think I'll string a few up, perhaps with a few crochet chains, and add them to the Christmas tree or, perhaps, a wreath. And I have another idea for a craft to use these up - all will be revealed soon enough...

This is my entry into Lou's Nature in the Home this week.
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Tuesday, 19 November 2013

A month of vegan / week two


This is how I feel, too: grumpy and in need of a hug. It's not been a great week. Maybe it's harder to stick to this than I first thought... On Friday I found myself in Ikea with T, it was 1.30pm and I hadn't eaten anything yet that day. So a cheese sandwich had to do. On Saturday we ended up in Pizza Express, who do offer the option to order a pizza without cheese but, frankly, what is the point of that? And on Sunday, post-bracing walk in the woods, we cooked a roast chicken.

See? Not good. (But maybe not so bad, either.) Realistic, necessary and for the greater good? Yes, but vegan? Definitely not.

Must try harder...
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Saturday, 16 November 2013

46/52



A: So tired
T: Been HARD WORK this week

That pic at the top? Ben took it. It's not the first time this has been said but he's an infuriating man. The rest of us spend hours and hours painstakingly practising and researching and trying to make our photography better than it was yesterday. Ben picks up the camera and shoots frame after frame of perfection. Maddeningly talented.

Joining in with Jodi. Loved lots last week:
Halo of light
Frida
Just wow!
Sweet profile



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Friday, 15 November 2013

Recipe: Mulled apple juice



The last few apples have fallen from the tree and, after a couple of months of crumble, cake, pie, puree and apples every which way you can imagine, I juiced them and made a warm, mulled apple juice.

Recently, I've found myself with a glass of wine in hand most evenings and so I'm actively trying to rein in my not-so-good habits. There's only so many herbal teas a girl can tolerate, however, and I've been looking for something delicious but relatively healthy. Think this might be it...


You'll need:
5 apples, juiced (or 1 litre carton of apple juice)
5 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
4 cardamom pods
2cm piece of fresh ginger, bashed
1/2 tsp fresh lemon zest
1/2 orange, sliced

To make:
Place all the ingredients except for the orange slices into a saucepan and set over a low heat.
Warm through and let the juice tick over (barely simmering; certainly not boiling) for around 15 minutes.
Add the orange slices and heat for 5 minutes more.
Remove from the heat, strain out the bits and bobs returning the orange slices to serve if you like.
If the juice is too concentrated for your taste you can add some boiling water.

Pour into heatproof mugs or glasses and drink immediately. Or, fill a flask and take to the woods.

Do you have a recipe for something delicious but non-alcoholic? I'd love to know.

More vegan recipes

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Thursday, 14 November 2013

London / part two



After the Greek extravaganza, I headed west to stay with some of my oldest, dearest friends. We did that thing, staying up late and chatting and still only discussing 1% of the myriad things we needed to. Never enough time...

The next morning I met Lou at Paddington and we pottered off to Oxford Circus and down to the Photographers' Gallery to see the Home Truths exhibition; a group show exploring motherhood and identity. Wow. It was something else. So interesting and varied, with some beautiful images and challenging work, too.

Whistle-stop lunch, then we mooched about in Liberty, practising our bokah in the fairy light department. Mid-afternoon and we had an appointment with Boden for their Spring/Summer 2014 press day. I properly fell in love: with the clothes (in particular some very 50s-inspired dresses, gorgeous thin jumpers in bright colours, and some proper good shoes), with the styling (think mid-century seating, and a beach. A BEACH. Complete with ice cream stand!), and with the nail-bar, blow-dry bar and the photo booth. It was all just so flipping glorious. And while it was summer inside at Somerset House, one peek out of the window and you could see the ice rink complete with gigantic Christmas tree. A strange juxtaposition indeed; ice cream to ice rink.

Finally, we passed by Anthropologiewhere Florence Knight, head chef at Polpetto, was in conversation with Elly Curshen from the Pear Cafe. More beautiful, wall-to-wall loveliness.

It was one of those days that don't come round often enough.



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Wednesday, 13 November 2013

London / part one





Last week I travelled up to London for an evening of cookery demos with some very special cooks. These four are the Halkidiki Housewives (great name for a band, no?), who travelled all the way from Greece for the event. They spoke no English but made themselves understood during a complex demonstration of traditional Greek pastries.

The evening was hosted by the Mount Athos Area Organisation, which just so happens to be the place that inspired our book. We couldn't not go; serendipity.

Those meringues had nothing to do with the demo but were so pretty I couldn't resist a snap.

More on the rest of my trip soon...
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Sunday, 10 November 2013

A month of vegan / week one


This week's been good. Not entirely dairy-free, but good all the same. I've eaten some spectacular meals as well as some great standbys:
:: bircher muesli made with soya yoghurt and fresh raspberries
:: toast with peanut butter and strawberry jam
:: burrito from Whole Foods
:: the Leon gobi
:: black bean chilli with avocado
:: the great dairy-free thali

... and tonight's meal - eaten by the whole family - homemade baked beans, broccoli, carrots, sautéed potatoes, and (pictured) a delicious recipe for roast pumpkin dish with garlic, cumin, herbs and breadcrumbs. (The book is designed to look worn and marked, by the way.)

My 24 hours in London was a blip and I ended up eating a little cheese and some milk. But I am not going to be hard on myself; I'd hate for this project to be a burden or a chore. I have no allergies, no real reason for doing this other than curiosity, and therefore if I'm a guest then I will eat what I'm given. Manners will always come first. More of that London trip soon...

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Saturday, 9 November 2013

45/52



A: Thrilled to have finally tracked down the Lego gingerbread man
T: This kid had a great week at pre-school. Not feeling good today... Prescription: iPad and bed

It's been a hectic week here and deadlines are looming. Time is whizzing by and I feel almost jet-lagged. I'm looking forward to a bit of a rest and have scheduled an early night for sometime mid-week.

Have a happy rest-of-weekend, whatever your plans.

Joining in with Jodi.
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Tuesday, 5 November 2013

On ritual

Firework bonfire night sky

Bonfire night. One of those annual rituals that seem to come around more frequently than once a year, somehow.

I've become so acutely aware of the passing of time recently. Sunday night saw a local firework display - the same one we went to last year - and, again, we trooped down the road to ooh and aah at the bangs and the flashing sky. As I watched my little family ducking out of the rain, hoods up, sweet upturned faces illuminated by the colours and lights, I felt a pain in my heart. This is all happening too fast. There is such joy in seeing them grow - little by little, micrometer by micrometer, breath by breath - and yet such bittersweet sorrow.

There have been many times I've urged them to grow up faster, to become a little more independent, a touch more civilised. But now I'd be happy to hit the pause button right here, right now. Just a bit more time with my tinies.

It is the rituals that pull this feeling into sharp focus. Halloween, Christmas, birthdays: they are all markers as clear as pen on a height chart. A clock ticking. A countdown. It is almost unbearable.
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Sunday, 3 November 2013

A month of...


A new month, a new month of... For November, I'm going to give up dairy (we don't really eat much meat or fish) and try to eat vegan. There are several reasons behind this one: during the writing of the book (which contains loads of vegan recipes), I read book after book on the subject and plenty of research on the health benefits of cutting down on animal products.

A few years back I ate this way and never felt healthier, so I'm hoping it won't be such a hardship. Actually, I hope it will be more; that I'll love it and my eating habits might change for the better, long-term.

Do you avoid animal products? What are your favourite vegan recipes?

Oh, and here's a vegan Pinterest board where I'm collecting recipes. Any take your fancy?

Follow v e g a n by Lottie :: Oyster & Pearl on Pinterest

Thanks to Riverford for a taster box from their weekly delivery service earlier this year.
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Saturday, 2 November 2013

44/52




A: Particularly in love with his little brother this week; a side effect of having spent the whole of half term together, perhaps
T: Such sweet phrases he's coming out with; really getting the hang of language

These snaps were taken at Cotswold Wildlife Park yesterday, in a brain-fooling day off that has made me think today is Sunday. The kids enjoyed it so much, as did we. It was one of those precious days where we felt like a gang, all messing about and having fun. Special.



A little extra portrait this week of the two of them, seeing as they have been (mainly) sweet together these past few days.

Joining in with Jodi.


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44/52

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Friday, 1 November 2013

Five reads for November



This month, I'll be reading...

1. Mollie Makes

Above is a photograph of my latest Mollie Makes piece, beautifully illustrated by the super-talented Emma Block (who also took this pic). It's about the art of giving; a gentle reminder to look beyond consumerism this Christmas.

2. I Love Dirt!

I don't, not naturally. But I'm making myself, what with all the research showing outdoor play to be hugely beneficial to kids. This handy book comes with 52 ideas for things to do with kids to help you discover the wonders of nature.

3. Grimm Tales: For Young and Old

My friend Alice told me about this book; it was duly ordered and is providing exactly the right level of enchantment and horror for a six-year-old's bedtime story. Philip Pullman can do no wrong, can he?

4. What Katie Ate: Recipes and Other Bits and Bobs

I'm reviewing this book for Gathered so can't give too much away. But if you're a fan of Katie's blog then you will know what to expect. Beautiful images and glorious recipes abound.

5. Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home

Remodelista is one of the sites I visit most regularly for a daily dose of interiors beauty and interesting-ness. This is the book of the website and might just have to go on a Christmas list or two.

What are you reading this month?
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