Sunday, 17 September 2017

Can You Dig it?

I decided to spend some time on the allotment today. The lower half is running away from me and very grassy. I've put some tarpaulin down and had a go at digging a square foot where it's a bit tough. The advice I got from my neighbour with the immaculate-plot 2 down is just keep doing that, and it will soon be clear, so I'm not going to beat myself up about it any more than I clearly have done already - my goodness, I ache!

The potato beds cleared easy enough, and I now have two great bags of spuds to store. And these...

Beans, aubergines, squash, tomatoes, onions, alien cucumber, slug-eaten courgette

Raspberries - still!

Look at my pumpkin now!
I abandoned the plot in a brief shower and popped to the library to grab a Chris Brookmyre, so I can read ahead of meeting him at a convention in a couple of weeks. By the time I got back to the plot, the sun was beating down and the crickets were singing. That's what it's been like all day!

I've had a long bath, but I'm still very, very stiff and achy from digging, and I got a bit dizzy this afternoon again, which might be over-exertion. Also, I have accidentally cut a chunk out of my little finger near the nail - again, probably lacking coordination due to over-exertion. I've tried not to do too much else and have been in a onesie for hours.

But it did fell good to make dinner out of things I'd grown myself - sausage and mash for mains with some of my potatoes and beans, and rhubarb crumble for dessert. With custard, of course, I'm not a monster! Plenty crumble left for tomorrow's lunch.

Big week this week for me... got a couple of gigs to prep for and a writing group. Also, I think I promised just to help clean a motorbike. Sucker!

Saturday, 16 September 2017

If We Took a Holiday...

It feels absolutely crazy, but I've managed to book myself a holiday... it's not for another month or so, but work has been so busy it was difficult trying to find time.

Only one question now: is this going to be a vacation or a staycation?


I think that question is going to be left spinning for a bit, but I tell you one thing that's not spinning quite so much... my head! Doc took a guess (erm, Vertigo?), and I have meds that seem to be working. Apart from first thing this morning when I was a bit spinny, but then I naughty, naughty had a naughty cider last night, which I'm not supposed to. And thus, I think it stopped working. But only for a bit. Plus points, I feel as light as a lemon mousse, though my eyelids are as heavy as an actual moose moose. Typing is a struggle... so I'm not going to do much. But I do feel better. Yay for better!

What a lovely day I've had today too. I did a lunchtime gig at Northampton Soup.


What is Northampton Soup? It is a great way to raise money for local projects.
This is an event run by volunteers, whereby people can come along, pay £5 for lovely vegan soup and a vote, and hear pitches from groups who are pitting for the pot of funds. Pitches are for 4 minutes and then pitchers take 4 questions from the audience who then have to vote for their favourite pitch. There can be for charities, community projects, social enterprise, art groups... anything community minded that will be of benefit to the town. Today's pitches were from charities to help new mums in poverty, packs for women women with breast cancer, transport for the local hunt sabotage group, and a higher esteem fitness class to help women.

I see the page has put up some great photos from today. Go have a look, see how fun it is!


That's me timing one of the pitches. These were the winners, Breast Friends. Such good pitches today. There was lots of love and energy in the room. 

I do the MCing and sometimes do a bit of poetry.



And then afterwards I spent time with my nephews in the chaos that is Wacky Warehouse. Noisy but fun. 


Saturday, 9 September 2017

Adventures of the Worst Biker Chick

I've not been updating much lately due to extreme busyness and not feeling great - a mix of light headedness and spinning rooms, which has given way to post-party agues and aches that seem to have lasted a week... mind, I've got lots of new classes on, which sap energy and my Fitbit has been going crazy.

But I thought I'd share some of the things I've been up to, which naturally I have broached in my Frugal Wench manner.

First up, I got invited to the wedding of the century - beautiful friends, getting married in a beautiful place, and having their party in their beautiful back garden. I basically loaded these photos before last Saturday's do, so I shall take you up to the hen night. Both hen and wedding were themed Great Gatsby/glamorous 20s.

The major part of our prep was making sure OH could come. To something! Shifts were re-arranged, but in the end he couldn't be our hag at the hen do, and due to working so much overtime and needing to get his glasses fixed at *some* point, OH could only make the wedding party. So spending money on his outfit was not a waste of time (not cheap, but good stuff for blokes isn't, and after creating a mood board for him of different looks, I'm satisfied we only spent a fraction on a Joe Brown blazer than we would have had to recreating the look from Brooks Brothers).

As for me, I had a 30s-style dress for the wedding, and thought, you know, that's close enough, and comfortable enough to wear all day too. But for the hen do, I wanted to release my inner flapper.


I didn't want to spend any money though.... none whatsoever. So I started with a dress I already had, this one I got from Mind at Christmas for £8, which had required me wearing with safety pins to get it to fit.


I unpicked most of my seams, and settled down for a couple of evenings sewing with some inspirational telly.
The House of Idiot... I mean, Elliott. It's all on YouTube in some ridiculous theatre frame, but it's still good!
Drop-waists were kind of hinted at  with baggier tops until about 1924 when everything went South. So, I began the effect by inserting a panel using this gold material from my scrap box. I unpicked some of the under stitching that had held the ruching in place when the top was across the breasts to make it look more down-directional, like a lovely pair of curtains.

I chopped and re-attached the hem, giving it a shorter flare, and then hacked at the overlying chiffon, tying it in drapes about the hips. I stitched it in place, but could have done this better as it tore and I had to re-tie in the night -  but it looked right!

A black devoré scarf, a homemade headband made of green ribbon and elastic from my scrap box and some recycled wedding feathers pinned in place, et voila! Dame Maggie would like some Malbec, please!
I mean, it really is a terrible sewing job, but I think I've got the bug you know!

And I just thought I'd share some photos from my birthday weekend when I went on a little trip to Fawsley Hall. As we still don't really have a working 4-wheeler, we went on 2 wheels instead. 

And I've no idea why, when I was fine before, but I felt like I was about to get killed the whole time when I had enjoyed it so much before. I seriously wanted to get the bus from Daventry. It made me not want to go visit the little church, and I'd been looking forward to going to see that. I was going to walk around it doing impressions of Danny Dyer. Denied! 






At least there were no complaints from OH about my skills as a pillion. In fact, I was so good he forgot I was there. And that may have been why I fell off.

Yes, I fell off.

Okay, it was when we had stopped at a give way in the dead of the countryside, and there was no traffic about or anything, but I looked up at the bike from the tarmac and could see my glove still in the strap, and OH MY GOD CAN YOU JUST IMAGINE IF WE'D ACTUALLY BEEN MOVING! I happen to like my hands with skin on them, so that is not good.

And it didn't help, OH thought he'd drop me at my brother's house for a restorative cuppa, and OH MY GOD, WHERE IS YOUR HEAD? THEY ARE IN SPAIN ON HOLIDAY! I JUST SHOWED THE PHOTOS TO YOU!!

Legs. Of. Jelly.

Anyway, I need better gloves.

Only yesterday, I saw a bike going along in urban traffic and the pillion was holding on one handed, checking their phone with the other. I'm assuming Facebook as I just saw the general blue and pictures. Sheesh!

Sunday, 27 August 2017

I've Hardly Done a Thing Lately




Sorry for not blogging for ages... I've had a very busy couple of weeks. I've been doing a lot of editing work, and other things too.

Not everything has been a fun thing. We had to say goodbye to a friend who died of cancer a couple of weeks ago. What with his being a biker, though, it was an amazing funeral, attended by lots of his friends on bikes. I rode pillion, so had to overcome some nerves for that. Such a thoughtful day. He  had planned for what he wanted for his ceremony, but he had also very much planned to live as well, and I think there's a lot we can learn from that.

I've not had much time to get to the allotment, so things have been growing again... oh my goodness.

These are earlies. I dug them up laties.

1950s Flying Wall Marrows

Some squashes

Another squash

Squish

These are definitely not pinstripe.

Pumpkin with hand for scale. Mind it's my hand, which is tiny.
Last weekend was the Umbrella Fair on the Racecourse  - a wonderful coming together of performers and artists, organised by UFO. I started doing some MCing in the Umbrella Fair CafĂ© on sturday to help advertise Northampton Soup, and then de-camped to the spoken Word Tent to watch some great acts. It was fab to see some folks I hadn't seen for ages.


Image may contain: 1 person, standing
Poets with Babies

On Sunday, I was an early act in the Spoke Word tent... doing me comedy 'n poems while the greater part of the audience hovered in the vicinity of the tent flap entrance thing (to run away)... but we got there. I went to the pub for lunch, but came back for The Anti-Poet, who were very good indeed.

This weekend, I've had my birthday (my 4th eleventh one), and I've done my history-based comedy show in Leicester (at the Guildhall in the mayor's parlour again!). This time OH came on the adventure! And one of my friends from uni came to watch, which was brilliant. I've had a lovely, lovely time, but I am quite pooped and ready for bed now.

Zzzzzzzz...

Thursday, 10 August 2017

"Pie" and "Chips"

I came up with a bit of an (I think) ingenious use for those patty pan squashes my brother gave me... they look like pies. Why not make them into an actual pie?

First of all, I cut off the "pie" lid, and scooped out the seeds in the middle (I have no idea if they'd grow again, but I saved some nonetheless).

I scored the flesh slightly to make it cook up a bit mushier, then added a small, chopped clove of garlic, a few roundels of goats cheese and a splash of milk, then grated some nutmeg for extra umami. (Hindsight Tip: I would probably add cream instead, or a bit less milk, then halfway through, spoon some of the cooked flesh into the middle, then top up the liquid - but it still made a tasty gooey pie centre).

 It was ready in about 45 minutes at 180*C.

 For the "chips", I made sweet potato wedges (sweet potatoes from the cheap town grocers, 7 for £1), just roasted in the oven with a spritz of Frylight.

Served with grated carrot salad (dash of smoked paprika, white wine vinegar), oven roasted allotment tomatoes, lettuce and fresh olive oil vinaigrette, a chicken leg for OH and half an avocado for me. Yum!

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

What's a Marrow You, Hey!

Trapped in the house by chutney as I was on Saturday, I never made it to the allotment until yesterday, and things have grooooooooown!!!

All apart from the melon. No longer getting twisted. It died... having been convinced it was in a hot Mediterranean country for the first few weeks of its life, things suddenly getting a bit crappy and British again were too much. Also, I should have grown it under cover.

But even as we are still chomping through the marrow my brother grew, the tiny tiddler courgettes on our plot are turning into zeppelins.

Weeeeeds!!

Things OH grew.

Hidden round the plot, several pumpkins! And that's a weed...

Stripy marrow

Not stripy marrow... and a ladybird.
I'm doing a lot of sitting in the house, working on books. As for getting out of the house for anything other than the day job, I've got, like, 3 proper gigs coming up... and a handful of open mics. Loads of my mates are at a science fiction convention in Helsinki, doing plays, or are in Edinburgh for the festival. Or Camden for that one. Or off on the first leg of an exciting European tour... So, I'm feeling slightly meh...

I need to be a bit more RAWK.

I might dye my hair pink.

Yeah, and sit in the house looking all bright and that.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Trapped by Chutney!!

My friend and neighbour came round today with a load of plums from his garden tree... and then shortly after came back with a huge bottle of vinegar!

And so without delay, I began the chutney production line: cleaning and sterilising jars, checking for recipes (I went with Good Housekeeping's Plum and Apple Chutney from the 70s). Quick pop to Aldi for more carrots and onions, and I had everything I needed apart from cloves... ah well, just put a bit more all spice in.

3lbs plums, 1lb apples, 1lb onions, 1/2lb carrots... 450g sugar (I don't know why I have both Imperial and Metric there), 225g raisins (donated this week by a friend who is returning to Weight Watchers, where they are an evil 3 points per spoon!!) and 1 and 3/4 pints vinegar looks like this.

Boil and simmer until thick.

Won't take long I thought. I'll just do a bit of editing while that's simmering, then pop to the allotment.

Oh my giddy aunt... that was hours ago! 

Recipe was supposed to make 5.5lbs. Well, I think I evaporated 2lbs. Just enough to fill all my spare jars, plus enough for this week's sarnies in a pot. I'll put some pretty labels on tomorrow. Or functional, depending on destination.


And things taking longer than they are supposed to is the story of my life, as I wanted to finish that editing job today, and that will need to be tomorrow now.

I have been trapped in the house by chutney!!

Whew... time for a glass of wine.