Two Moments in the Rain.

via Daily Prompt: Rivulet

pexels-photo-459451.jpegThe Rain comes down sideways in Scotland drenching you to your soul, cleansing your mind of everything that needs to be gone, but getting into every crevice and stays there. Much like Scotland itself does. It gets in your head, unforgettable followed by the emotions of other seasons all brought to you, often in one day. The dampness carried around with you in your bones, never quite letting it go.  But you love it for what it does to you. The hours you could spend watching rivulets of rain pouring down a window in quiet contemplation.

The rain in Australia is somehow different. Yes, it will also soak you to the skin, but the warmth that follows it will brighten the day, drying out the very core of your being, bringing a different kind of happiness, as the steam rises from your clothes along with your worries, lifting your spirits and making you think of better things, a temporary blast of freshness which the world around you sings it’s Thank you. Scents and sounds of the forest thankful for the blessing of an impromptu shower. Droplets of rain disappearing in the heat.

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Vegan Honey – Wild Food Recipe

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I have been working on my knowledge of Wild food and foraging over the past year or so.  I began to do this partly out of curiosity and also out of necessity. I have been looking for home remedies which I am able to make on a limited budget, in my own small kitchen, from things which are growing outside my front door or close by. This is to try and help my own health along, but also because I am also trying to live more sustainably, by using the things that I have already and recycling. It has also encouraged my family to save jars for me to use, rather than recycling them via roadside collections. This enables to me to stretch both the imagination and my creativity at the same time and even when I have been out of the workplace I have turned my hand to doing something useful.

With that in mind, I stumbled upon a recipe to use up the swathe of dandelions in my garden and set about making Vegan Honey.  I am not a vegan, but I do have food allergies and intolerances and try to eat healthily.  Having found the delights of the humble dandelion last year, I decided to delve further into its uses both culinary and medicinal.

This is a Bee Free Sweet Preserve, which resembles honey and can be used in exactly the same ways.

So on a sunny afternoon, the day before the lawn was due to be cut I thought I would save the dandelions from the garden, I picked about half a colander of them. Since there have been blooms for a month now and the spring flowers are also out, I have no qualms about using them. As always, I leave some for the bees since it is one of their first foods of the year. There are plenty in the garden but they would be going to waste on this particular day.

I have also noticed the thing about Dandelions is that once you take the flowers, they produce so many more blooms the next day they are abundant.

Fortuitously I found a recipe for Dandelion Honey, which got me thinking.  I do like to adapt recipes though it helps me figure out what works and what doesn’t in them. It’s all trial and error, but sometimes it goes well. So as I did not have all the ingredients to hand, I searched online for other recipes that I might adapt.  I also searched the freezer, where I had stored some apples.

Thankfully my friends and family are getting used to my concoctions these days and either wrinkle their noses up when I describe things, or alternatively agree to give them a go. Some have even come back for more, asking me to make them again.  I must be doing something right.

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If you would like to make your own “Honey” You will need time on your hands and patience. It is time consuming, but the taste is very pleasing and you will have your own little taste of sunshine for your morning breakfast, or afternoon tea if you prefer.

Here’s the equipment you’ll need:

A Large Pan, Knife, Wooden Spoon, Muslin Cloth to strain, Jug and Scales to measure, Sterilised Jars. I used 9 small jars.

Ingredients:

Dandelions – ½ Colander collected is equal to around 4 cups petals once split.

2 Cooking Apples

1 Lemon

Water 2.5 Pints or 5 Cups.

Sugar  Approximately 1.2Kg

Method:

Collect Dandelions on a Sunny Day from a place which is free from insecticide.

Rinse them in cold water, this gives any bugs a chance to escape.

Water the plants with the excess water, thus releasing the bugs to freedom again.

 

Remove all the petals and separate them from all the green stems and flower base. You need to keep the petals for your honey. Warning – This is very fiddly and time consuming, you may actually lose the will to live!

Once you have petals, I ended up with about 4 cups of them.

Wash and Peel the Apples and slice them.

Wash and Cut the lemon into quarters.

Add 2.5 pints or 5 cups of water,

Bring to the boil and then continue to fast boil for 30 minutes.

Allow to steep overnight in the pan. If you do not want a really lemony taste, then at this point I would remove the lemon pieces and crush to retain the juice in the mix since it helps the setting process. But since you are adding sugar, the end result is sweet.

The next day, measure the liquid and weigh it, heat in a pan adding the same weight in sugar.

I ended up with around 2 pints of juice at this point which weighed just about 1150kgs.

Boil until it reaches setting point, to test this take a spoonful, pour it onto a plate, leave it a few minutes and if it has a crinkle to it, or does not run, then pour into sterilised jars and seal.

It can take up to 2 days for the mixture to set apparently, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed at this point. But since I like Runny honey anyway, I’m generally pleased with the result and it has a pleasing Honey colour to it. Not real honey, but with all the goodness that Dandelions and Lemons can provide, I bet it will still soothe a sore throat and who would know?

 

Writing under a Pseudonym

via Daily Prompt: Nervous

It is strange now I come to think of it, I have been a writer for over two years now. I began on my writing journey long before that of course. Writing poetry which I never thought would see the light of day, for my own satisfaction, or healing. When I felt ill equipped to deal with what life had thrown at me, I sought solace in my writing. It made me feel better. I would write my deepest darkest feelings, or unrequited love, or break ups in verse and then put the pages away.

I decided two years ago, after some difficult things in my life to follow the advice that I had been given and find an outlet for my creativity. I decided to write down my deepest and often darkest thoughts. I had done this for some time, but as I began to do this again, suddenly the floodgates opened.  I was writing poetry, several poems per day, almost every day for months. I did not know whether it was any good or not. But it gave me a sense of purpose, right when I needed one.

It occurred to me that at some point I should probably do something with them. I read them to a few people, they told me that I had a talent and that I should publish them, or get them published.  I did not know where to start so I began writing my blog. I thought that whatever direction my creativity took, I would be able to express it there.  I include my photographs, occasional artwork, poems and musings. I must admit that back then I was nervous.  I worried what people thought alot more than I do now. If people liked it, I would soon know about it and if they didn’t, then well I wasn’t writing under my own name so if it was a disaster, then at least I could stop and my own reputation would be intact. It seemed like a win-win situation for me.

So it was a bit of a surprise when I began to put together my first book of poetry and came across some old papers in the loft.  Along with quite alot of junk and magazine clippings and artwork, I found my poems, well the ones that I had kept and proceeded to type them up so that I could have them on the laptop. Who knows, I thought maybe I will publish some of them after all.

I reached 100 poems, before selecting the ones which I would put into my first book, 100 seemed like a good starting point. I thought of a title and worked to put the book together, it even included some of the oldies that I had found.   But, this is when and where my cunning plan backfired. Under my writing name, no-one knows me. In order to promote a book, how does one go about it, well they usually send off to publishers, or magazines or they decide to self-publish and hope for the best.

I opted for the latter. Lesson’s learned is that the thing about writing about your thoughts, hopes, dreams, private life etc under a pseudonym, is that it eventually throws the challenge back at you. You either have to stand up and say, “This is me” at some point, or avoid the spotlight and continue to remain in the background and possibly go unnoticed. So my self-published book has not been actively promoted and there are no book tours for me so far. I am a poet and a faceless author.

So as a writer am I satisfied that I have gone about this in the right way? The outlet of blogging has suited me for a couple of years.  But as time goes on and my experiences and writing have improved I think that I crave more now.  I have some regular readers and have been writing reviews on Trip Advisor for the past year, with over 14000 readers there they have been well received and I have reached level 5 as a contributor also under my blogger name.

As time goes on I would love to write as myself, broaden my horizons and earn a living doing this thing that I love. I always intended to write more on this blog as time went on but have up until now remained a writer in hiding, nervous of taking off the mask of anonymity.

Is it time to bite the bullet and put myself out there? Am I ready to create my brand and market myself?  I am still unsure along with what my future as a writer may hold, but please come and take a look from time to time here, you might see changes in the website along with the changes in me. My journey is ongoing, I have not yet reached my destination.

MUFD

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A MUFD, which is not to be confused with “in Mufti”

I am of course referring to “Make Up Free Days”. Not the phrase which may spring to mind that is used by military personnel when they return to wearing civvies, or standard every day clothing.

About 5 years ago it was incredibly rare for me to go out without make up on. It was somehow as though I felt it was expected of me to look my best every time I walked out of the door and this was the way to achieve it. I worked several other non-make up wearing ladies at the time and they did not appear to be bothered at all. Perhaps it was that they were supremely self confident and I was not. Or maybe it was not about self confidence for them at all, just that they couldn’t be bothered or were short on time I neither know nor judge.

It was some time later, during a period of unemployment following injury which hospitalised me that I personally began to worry about it less. I never wore lots of make up anyway so people often didn’t realise that I would not leave home without mascara and eye shadow on. I stopped putting on my “war paint” as it used to be referred to every day. Did this make me feel any less capable of coping? Well I can’t say either way, it took me a while to heal from that both mentally and physically as there was damage which changed me. If I had needed it as a crutch then that would have been the time I probably needed it more than ever. But during that time I didn’t get up and put on my war paint every morning as I had always done. Whether it was linked to the PTSD that I was diagnosed with or not it was a turning point. When I went back to work again, I did wear make my up for work but not at weekends unless I was going somewhere special.

In recent months there has been a lot of media interest in the celebrities who have decided to make their Make Up Free Days the norm. They all have their own reasons for it.

The year before last, I suffered an attack where I had to have facial surgery and 50 stitches to my face. It was very painful and really affected the way I looked at things. Self-confidence became non existent and I needed help to recover. For about a month I did not leave my home alone unless I had to and otherwise it was under cover of darkness. I did not want to be seen by anyone I knew although I had to attend some appointments I felt physically sick having to push myself to do so. The stares from people and their reactions when they saw me were really difficult, it was even more difficult when I relayed the events to people I knew, to see them recoil in  horror is something that will stay with me. I had to focus on just getting better but I wondered if I would ever look like me again. At that point I could not wear make up for some months. I had to let the stitches do their work and the skin heal and Thankfully I had a good supply of Aloe Vera natural products to use to push that process onward. It took a long time, more and more since then I have been make up Free. It holds far less importance than it used to. What people do not realise until faced with that situation is that you have to be careful how you apply make up to Scar tissue. It just doesn’t behave in the same way and spots caused by make up or anything else can take a long time to heal up and cause nerve pain which travels across the face.

Whilst I was getting through those months, I wore no make up and find that now less and less I reach for it. I tend now to put it on as part of my brave face when I have to do something serious, like a meeting or appointment but now I regularly venture out to the shops without make up on. It gives my face the chance to breathe and I am just being me so take it or leave it. Although I don’t always have such confidence, it is now over a year after the injuries and you’d have to look twice to see the scars on my face. Thankfully they are fading as I am trying to rebuild my life.

#MakeupFree #selfconfidence #ptsd #scar #recovery #heal

Image@ Morguefile.com 

Barcelona – Street Art and Pretty Things Part 3

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Well, There’s a promise!

I was struck by the humour I found on my travels to Barcelona wandering about, it surprised me at almost every corner.  I wonder if the coffee really was that good, unfortunately it was a passing moment and I didn’t get the opportunity to try it. But the blogger in me is always on the look out for a good coffee house.  This one is situated opposite the very beautiful Palau de la Música Catalana and I made a mental note to revisit it one day.

Barcelona – Street Art and Pretty Things Part 2

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I took this photograph primarily for my brother since he loves a Vespa.

I must admit that it seemed somehow strange that it adorned the shop window still in the first week of January. Secretly I was quite pleased that someone else still keeps their Christmas Decorations past new year, but I did not anticipate this in a shop and somehow expected the New Year Sale to have taken over.

 

Endometriosis Awareness Month

img_5486As March is upon us again and our thoughts turn to Spring and of new growth and warmer weather.  There are some ladies who just think about coping with what life has thrown at them.  They are the one in ten women who suffer with Endometriosis.

Endometriosis.org describes the disease as, “where tissue similar to that of the endometrial lining travels and attaches itself elsewhere in the body causing all kinds of issues, including a chronic inflammatory reaction, that may result in scar tissue. It is primarily found on the pelvic peritoneum, on the ovaries, in the recto-vaginal septum, on the bladder, and bowel.” It can then grow on other organs as well and is difficult to find.  It is debilitating often causing chronic pain and is far more than just “a heavy menstruation” as it is often thought by those who are alas ill informed.

March is for them.  Those women. In the past few years March is not just the month we have just stumbled upon.  It is what they do, in a bid to raise awareness for a debilitating condition, which is not yet recognised as a formal disability, but wreaks havoc upon the lives of women across the globe. Many are hoping that by doing so, their family, friends and employers will have an understanding of this invisible illness. One which can cause a multitude of symptoms and a world of pain.  They do not require sympathy for they are fighters and far stronger than you might think, they go through so much but they do require your understanding.

It takes a minimum of seven years to be diagnosed with this disease, but it is incurable.  It renders many women infertile and can cause unbearable pain.  Multiple operations, hormone treatments and periods of time when you could be absolutely fine, lulling you into a false sense of security and having taken seven years toll upon you, it can cause depression and the breakdown of relationships and the loss of employment. You may be pain free for months, or even years following treatments and possible surgery and then it will suddenly rear it’s ugly head again causing new symptoms which you had previously thought were unconnected, but later turn out to be.  It can affect women from puberty to menopause and sometimes further than that.

There is so much more information about this disease available now at your fingertips. From groups on Facebook set up by women who want to share experiences, research and competent medical contacts and offering support to fellow sufferers to Endometriosis Research Foundations and Charities, who enable us to find out more about the condition. They are known as “Endosisters” and are united by their illness and the need for understanding it.  Should you wish to find out more about this condition please feel free to select the link below for more facts. http://endometriosis.org/resources/articles/facts-about-endometriosis/