Owl in the Night

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Owl in Flight

For years now I haven’t done sketches, convinced that I could not draw sufficiently well I stuck to only drawing what I knew. Houses were the thing which came more easily to me, but recently along with stepping outside my comfort zone I felt compelled to draw an owl just after I wrote this poem. 

The owl flew past in full stealth mode,
As we walked along the road.
And just as I had time to say,
He’d landed there and spied his prey.
His wingspan wide, his body white,
He glided off into the night,
And once again since it was dark,
Upon the woods, he made his mark.
Touched by his magic then he was gone,
He never stays around too long.
A reminder that the woods are not mine,
Whilst sharing with me a moment in time,
I looked there again but he’d flown away,
Wishing that for longer he’d stay.
Oh beautiful owl with feathers so white,
No need to worry and take flight.
Perhaps returning to the farm.
Where you’re again safe from harm.
I’m glad that you felt safe to just be,
While he was walking along with me.
I hope that you found a plentiful store,
And we will see you again once more.
Followed your flight across the ridge,
Across the fields towards the bridge.

 

Creative Abandon

The Daily Post – Messy

Like many creative people my house can get pretty messy when I am busy making or doing a project. The key to this is to return to some order again once I am done. Admittedly sometimes this can take longer than I planned.

Yesterday I took over the kitchen as is often the case this time of year and made Winter Syrup. This will form the basis for some of my handmade Christmas gifts for friends and family.

As you will see in almost every hedgerow that you pass this time of the year in the Uk there is a plentiful supply of Rosehips just waiting to be utilised. After the first frost has softened them is the best time to use them. I love foraging for fruit and berries.

For the past three years I have made a Winter Syrup of varying ingredients. It is usually because I haven’t kept the recipe in one place and I strive to improve it each year. All have been based on a Rosehip recipe and are my first resort when sore throats hit since these wonderful fruits are packed with Vitamin C.

The first I made was the best since it was Elderberry and Rosehip and was what my brother who was a chef, described as “a little bottle of Christmas”. It was lovely with cake, ice cream and in sparkling cocktails. I resolve to make this version next year and not miss out on elderberries as I did this year I was just in the wrong place when the fruit was available. But for now, here’s the recipe for this year’s if you want to make some of your own.

1kg of Ripe Rosehips with stalks and ends removed.

2 litres water

1 Lemon with peel on, halved.

2 inches of Fresh Ginger root, sliced.

1 teaspoon Ground Mixed Spice.

2 tsp Ground Turmeric.

2 tsp Ground Cinnamon.

1 tsp Cloves.

Honey.

Mix all ingredients in a large pan, with 1 litre water lightly mash the Rosehips to break up the fruit and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Use a Muslin cloth in a colander and a bowl to separate the fruit from the liquid, leave to stand to drain as much liquid as possible out. Because Rosehips have fine hairs within them which can irritate the throat you have to separate the fruit from the liquid.

Return the liquid to a clean pan and add another 1 Ltr water and 1kg Sugar. I used both Demerara and white sugar since it was what I had to hand. Add 2 tbsp honey.

Bring the liquid to boil until all sugar has melted then simmer until it has reduced to half its volume.

Bottle it into sterilised glass bottles. I got 8 small bottles from this recipe.

It makes a wonderful sore throat remedy. You will notice that there is a slight sediment in the bottles, this is due to the use of dried spices. Shake before use and once opened store in the refrigerator.

Favourite Places to Visit

Esther Chilton Challenge – Favourite Places to Visit

This is a place that really is my second home, the place I go to whenever I can. My sanctuary from all that has gone wrong in my life. Where I am surrounded by Nature and Beauty and I am reminded that there is more to life than whatever has bothered me before.

I can walk for miles, across those hills. Surrounded by greenery, trees, mountains and the sea.  The sunsets lift me, their warmth coursing through my veins and bathing everything in a beautiful glow. When I am fortunate to rise with the sun, then life is truly worth living and the day seems so much better. At night, when a magnitude of stars light up the sky, and everywhere else is black, what will catch me out every time is when the blackness suddenly turns from enveloping you to a blue blanket which surrounds you and the light creeps around the hillside fooling you  and the birds again into thinking that the morning has broken. When it rains, boy does it rain and the rain will come down sideways and soak you to your core and feels as though it could cleanse your soul.

It is one of my favourite places on earth.

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.

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?

 

The Practice of Gratitude and How it can turn your day around.

This is How a little Gratitude can change your whole day.

Yesterday was a very grey day, and a Bank Holiday Monday. It threatened to take over the whole day smothering it with Grey when I awoke with the familiar feeling that I was tired, so tired that things ached. I did not want to crawl out of bed, but there was simply no more sleep to be had. My sister was arriving for a visit in the afternoon, she felt the same, we were both lethargic for differing reasons. We have been consciously trying to spend more time with each other lately and I hope that it is doing us both some good.
Foolishly yesterday morning I downloaded an update for my iphone and promptly thought no more of it. Now my use of the phone is limited, but I like to make use of it for photos’ social media and texts, as well as the occasional phone call of course. I merrily went on my way.

When Susie, my sister arrived we sat and spoke about all sorts of things, but mainly projects in the pipeline and what we wanted to do. I spoke about some of my own projects I want to work on some of which she has agreed to assist me with. Susie is a musician and now has new found freedom with the recent purchase of her first car. So she is widening her working area. Attending gigs further out and new experiences are opening up for her, in fact she’s consciously seeking them out, she is now following her own dream. We started to spend more time with each other so that I could help her gain more confidence out in the car, for when she hits the road for gigs up and down the country. It gives me the ideal opportunity to spend time with my younger sibling without other distractions. Some Quality Time at last. I am showing her the local countryside where we have lived for all of her life and she is seeing things with new eyes. All of these wonderful places, right here on her doorstep, but needing to get there by car, they have been limited to her up until now.

So as I try to think of interesting places to show her we jump in her car and head off.
I had a plan to show her somewhere different yesterday, but we sat indoors for most of the day, her singing and playing the guitar, talking about some of the gigs she is about to do, and the dog singing right back to her. She seemed a little surprised that he was joining in, but they soon settled into their song together.

My beloved disappeared off to see a sick friend who had just returned from hospital and we agreed to stay until he returned. He was later than anticipated and quite shaken when he came back, shocked at his friends condition. He wanted to be on his own with the dog for a walk.

 

So we the girls jumped in the car for a short trip out. Heading over to a local area along the river, there used to be a pub there, but it is now closed and the caravan park which borders the river has ducks. We parked up and walked through, looking at the pretty caravans and headed for the river, walking along the towpath we spotted a lot of floating markers which are washed up and decaying rather spectacularly. I wanted to take some photos of them and some of Susie, out in the open air, we had been talking about locations where she could get some new promo ones and although studio shots are great, if she thought about other places as backdrops as well she might get some interesting photos.

It was very windy, we were getting blown about in the wind and it wasn’t very warm, at least we had coats. But we began larking about, taking photos of each other and giggling, a return to kids again. There is a large gap in our ages and you could probably count on your hands the amount of times we have actually behaved like kids together, but we love each other and are alike in a lot of ways once everyone else is removed from the equation. We were just being ourselves, totally natural. Embracing our inner child and each other, with barely any make up and not in our posh clothes looking very windswept. We had fun, thoroughly enjoyed it. I am already making plans for the next time we go out.

Unfortunately the camera on my phone kept freaking out and doing strange things and I had to shut it off to do anything after that. It turns out the new update had messed with my mojo and changed all my images from jpeg to aae files, which my normal PC simply cannot cope with, so I had to fiddle with them to even see them on the laptop when we got home. Thanks for nothing, Apple, it worked just fine before that.

 

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I loved that couple of hours with my sister though, we came home and ate dinner all together and talked some more and the fresh air had put some colour in our cheeks and smiles on our faces. Promoting our own Health and Wellness and enjoying the Nature around us.

We enjoyed ourselves, no expectations to live up to, just being sisters. For this time I am able to spend with my sister, I am grateful. We often say that we would like to spend more time together just us girls, but it took so long to happen, due to our different schedules and now we are enjoying these opportunities.

When you start to think about the small things for which you are grateful, let alone the big things, you start to look at your life and the things around you in a much more positive light. I was encouraged to look at being grateful for small things, by a lovely lady who has been an inspiration to me many times during the past year. Kristin Granger over at www.gratitudeinall.com She posts inspiring quotes via her face book page and reminding me to look for something good in the day she also encouraged me when I told her that I wanted to write and gave me a few pointers on how to start with my blogging.

Despite a windy day, there is sunshine out there within those clouds and you only need look for it. I am Grateful for being able to see, both the wonderful things around me and my lovely sister.