1 today!

This blog is one years old . Woo Hoooo!

I’m not sure if it’s the correct exactly-a-year-ago-to-the-day date or anything; in fact it probably isn’t – but around about a year ago today I posted the very first In A Welsh Garden blog post, called ‘It’s A Harlequin!’. It was about Ladybirds living on the Christmas Tree at the bottom of our garden. And when we checked today we saw, that after a long winter, the ladybirds are back.

Thinking back to that first post it’s easy to tell that it was the first post. It took a lot of putting together,that post. But as time went on I settled into a more relaxed style of blogging.  I feel at home here now.

I hadn’t realised how much blogging has changed things for me until today when I looked back to that first post.  During a year of blogging I have rediscovered how much  I love to write. I’ve grown in confidence and dared to think that maybe I’m not too bad at it.  I’ve ‘met’ some great people in cyberspace through blogging (and tweeting) – people with sharp minds and interesting insights who bounce ideas off each other. It’s similar to when I’ve shared studios with other artists; how just being around other creative people can spur you on to create; and of how all of those ideas and creative minds inevitably inform each other. It’s that chain reaction thing that you get from being around other painters/writers/artists/creative people; from lighting the creative touch-paper. You don’t really get that from being a SAHM . I love the life I live; I chose it -but blogging has proved to be a bit of a creative lifeline to me; a much needed creative outlet.

It’s a bit like that old adage – ‘If you don’t use it you lose it’.  I was in real danger of losing my creativity under a barage of domesticity. Blogging has changed that for me. It has also given me back something that I had lost – direction.   Now I not only feel motivated again but I actually have a fairly good idea of where I want to go. Isn’t blogging ace?!

It’s been so fab ‘meeting’ other bloggers and discovering other blogs – I love popping over to different blogs that I’ve discovered on my cyber travels and reading these unique takes on life. My life is definately richer for it. I’ve loved reading the comments that people have left after my posts. I’ve loved leaving comments on other peoples blog posts. I’ve loved taking part in blog hops and going on ‘blog crawls’ : ) If I were to pick out blogging highlights of this year they would have to be Kath Eastman’s Wales Blog Awards blog hop @ The Nut Press (Thanks Kath – that was so fab!) and on a serious note the sobering experience of being involved with the AuthorsforJapan auction. Many times this year it has crossed my mind what an amazing invention the internet is,and how positively it can impact upon peoples lives. So often we only hear the negatives. 

To all my cyber friends in the blogosphere – Thankyou so much for being there and for supporting this blog, and for being so utterly fab.

Finally, why I blog about my garden: when I started blogging I needed a hook, anything, to write about, to get me writing. I heard somewhere that it’s a good idea to write about something that you know about.

I hope I’m still here blogging about it this time next year.And if not about that, then about something else.But still, you know, blogging.

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And The Eastern Bloc Kitchen of the Year Award goes to …..

I’d like you to meet our cooker.  His name’s Bernard.

(This isn't our Bernard. I daren't show you a picture of our Bernard. He's filthy.)

 

Hang on I’d better stop right there. That’s going a bit far, even for me.   We do have a cooker but we don’t call it Bernard. Nope, not even here, at Three Sheets Central.  Perhaps I’d better try a different tack.

‘This is our cooker. It’s a bit rubbish. It’s very old. I’d like a new one.’  That’s more like it.

It was in this ‘I want I want’ frame of mind that,just before Christmas, I took a stroll over to the blog of my good friend Caroline Smailes. There I joined the queue for a new cooker.  Perhaps I’d better explain.

Just before Christmas the very lovely people at Appliances Online http://www.appliancesonline.co.uk/  delivered a fantabulous new cooker to the Smailes household. 

Caroline shared all about it in a blog post. It all sounded fab. There were comments, many comments. I confess that I didn’t read them all. I started at about half way down. By this stage everybody seemed to be asking for a new cooker. So I thought I’d join in and ask for one too. It seemed to be the done thing.  As it was near Christmas I was also slightly innebriated at the time(nothing worthy of rehab you understand, I’m just talking a small sniffter of sherry) and in this happy state I confess that I was a little free and easy with the dishing out of the old festive comments.  I’ll translate: I blew a festive cyber kiss to Appliances Online. It could have been worse; at least there wasn’t a photocopier around.

Fast forward to two days ago. Mr In A Welsh Garden and I were having our usual moan about The State Of The Kitchen.  We like to have a moan about the kitchen. It’s the same kitchen that we inherited when we moved in. We bought the house on its potential  and then we had two sproglets in quick succession – you can guess the rest. It’s still the same kitchen.

The cooker – Bernard – no, look,I’m sorry, I’m going off on one again, it’s been a long day – we also inherited, and he – I’m sorry – it – is truly a sight to behold.  I don’t know if it’s polite to mention a cooker’s age,but it looks like a 1950’s baby to me. It’s a handsome thing, kind of,but it’s a bit fooked*,if you’ll pardon the french. It’s too far gone to carry off the ‘cool vintage thing’- and the rest of the hovel sorry kitchen lets the side down on that front. We won’t be making the front cover of Country Living any time soon.

So, anyway,Mr and I were playing our favourite game of ‘when we’ve got some money, we will’ . And the cooker came  up for discussion. I thought of Caroline’s cooker from Appliances Online. I had a quick look at their website.They have a YouTube vid on their site that is simple and effective in explaining what they do.

We havn’t ordered a cooker yet. But when we are ready to order one we’ll take a look at the site again. The main draw for me would be that it sounds relatively hassle-free, and I always like the sound of that.

Until then it’s just you and me Bernard. And the Eastern Bloc Kitchen of The Year …

* – ‘fooked’ doesn’t count as proper swearing. Honest. (It’s Manc(unian)swearing and that’s different).

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Authors for Japan

Tweet That

Somebody that I know from my Twitter Life has done something amazing.

That somebody is the lovely @Keris, and you can see what she has created if you click on the Authors For Japan widget. Please support it if you can.

Lots of Amazing Writers, Literary Whizzes, Artists (*Ahem*, and mentioning no names)and other similarly Wonderful And Creative Types have kindly donated examples of their work (and in many cases their time and their expertise) to be auctioned off on the Authors For Japan website. All money raised from the auction will go to the Red Cross to help victims of the recent earthquake and tsunami.

There are some amazing things that you can bid on. I wish that I could tell everybody about this auction, and Lord Knows I’ve tried.  If you’re reading this,please do click on the widget and visit the Authors for Japan website. And if you are able,please do make a bid. And tell everybody that you know all about it – Retweet it to your followers if you ‘do’ Twitter; ‘Share’ or ‘Like’ it if you’re on FaceBook …the more people that know about it, the more bids that will be generated and the more money that will be raised …

….and in doing so you will be Doing A Good Thing.  Just like the lovely @Keris, who can go to sleep tonight knowing that she has Done A Very Good Thing Indeed. She should be proud of herself.

 We in Twitterland are very proud of her. And of Twitter. And of each other.

Recently somebody who should have known better (but didn’t)gave @Keris a hard time about being on Twitter. It’s no great secret; you can read all about it on her blog. Oh Vanessa,what a difference a day (or two) makes.  Today I challenge anybody to give @Keris a hard time about being on Twitter.

Because without an @Keris and a Twitter there would not be an Authors for Japan. Nor would there be so many utterly fabulous,generous and kind hearted individuals retweeting, visiting and bidding at said site.

And so I rest my case, and in @keris’s own words:  ‘Tweet that,Vanessa’.

Indeed.

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There’s a worm at the bottom of the garden

There are lots of worms at the bottom of our garden. We also have Darleks.

Davros and Davros

 

Today we checked out what the D & D Partnership had yielded – take a look at this beautiful stuff…

Three years in the making… and look at it now! It is muck of great beauty. Compost. The word even smells earthy.

We got D & D from our local council three years ago. They cost a (subsidised) £9 each.  Since taking up residence they have been fed all kinds of crap.  Teabags, Pet hair, food waste, rotting windfall,garden waste,cardboard (ripped up) – it’s all been chucked in on an almost daily basis.  With the odd Ponk with a pitchfork every now and again.

And now, three years later (it doesn’t have to take three years by the way, it’s just that we’d been a bit lazy and had left it that long) we have been rewarded with this rich beautiful stuff. Doncha just love that whole Circle of Life thing you get on the go with composting? Grow Eat Compost Grow    Grow Eat Compost Grow … love it. Just as it should be. Very satisfying. The stuff has Happy-inducing powers.  

I’ll be using it to pot up and plant over the next few days.

* * * * * *

It’s been a blessed relief to get back into the garden after a long and very snowy winter.

Things are starting to grow.

The air hangs heavy with promise. I feel excited.

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Eat Me

Ingredients

A new year and all that , resoloutions and directions.

Lately I’ve been thinking alot about motivation. Being lazy.  Self belief . Lack of confidence. Navel gazing.

Is there something that you think that you just can’t do?  That you’re just ‘not good at’ ? 

With me it’s baking.  And there are other things.  Given up before I’d started. Didn’t see the point in trying. Believed I’d fail.

Yesterday I made twelve cakes.   Today I made twelve more.   There is something very pleasing about a cake tin holding twelve cakes.  No more No less.  I like to hear the soft paper Plop-dropping as expectant cake cases land in each tinny crater    waiting fecund for each sweet dollop to come home.    

I didn’t think that I could bake.  I used to buy cake mixes. The cakes never tasted very nice.  I was scared of cake recipes.  I believed that other people could bake cakes but that I couldn’t. That I wasn’t privy to that secret cake making knowledge. That I wasn’t on the guestlist where others were with the band. 

Recipe

At first it looked like all the others.  Nothing special.  But it was the first cake recipe that played ball with me.  It liked me. It rewarded my efforts with cake.

Using what you’ve got

I like cupboard cooking. Happy accident cooking.  Using what’s there. Without having to go out and buy. One recipe. Lots of variations. 

Yesterday chocolate chip cupcakes – left over chocolate coins; the last tablespoon of hot chocolate in the cupboard ; a rediscovered bar of fairtrade orange spice dark chocolate melted to harden tops.   Today Lemon Drizzle cakes. Found a nearly empty box of crystallized orange and lemon slices ,chopped up,fab on tops.   

The proof of the pudding

The most amazing thing though is that my cakes had compliments. My cakes – compliments! Who’d have thought it?  Definately not me, that’s for sure.

Tidying Up

I’ve had to concur that, actually,maybe I’m not quite as bad at baking as I’d convinced myself I was.  And if that goes for baking then maybe, just maybe, it might go for other stuff too. 

We all do it don’t we, put limitations upon ourselves.   This week a small tray of cakes made me think that maybe it is time that I stopped doing that.   And about what could be possible if I did.

So that’s my plan for 2011.  Anybody care to join me?

Posted in Artist, Artist Blogs, baking, Spirituality, Uncategorized | Tagged | 5 Comments

In praise of fairy lights

As those that know me (or read my last post) will vouch for, I am an unashamed, out-and- proud ‘Fan of the Fairylights’. For some reason this sounds like a euphemism , not dissimilar to ‘Friend of Dorothy’. This is not coincidental.  My love of Fairylights undoubtedly springs from that same inner Well of Campery that is home to  my unwavering devotion to The Wizard of Oz , Abba and Priscilla Queen of The Desert. It’s my inner gay man. l just can’t help it. 

My favourite fairylights are vintage ones – as a child of the 70’s I remember that sheer joy of coming downstairs to see those fabulous cheap Woolies fairylights twinkling pink turquoise yellow green red  in their plastic diamond-cut cases adorning our battered and rather threadbare silver Christmas tree . Made in Taiwan. Perfect.

Surprisingly you can still pick up a set of these , or something close – just look for the value or budget range in your local MonsterMart and that’s where they’ll be.  Sadly the colours aren’t quite what they used to be  – those soft pinks and yellows and pale greens of my childhood seem to have been replaced with a more garish lowest-common-denominator palette of reds ,electric blues and emerald greens.  Not so good but could be worse. Could be LED.

Don’t start me on LED fairy lights.  I’ll just say that they don’t do it for me.  They don’t float my mardigras boat.  Too cold. Too deserted shopping mall. No heart. Proper fairylights have soul. And bulbs. That you can replace.

I wonder if my love of fairylights says anything in particular?  I find that I can bond instantly with a person over a shared fondness for fairylights. And if you’re the kind of person who leaves them up all year, then that’s it, you’re in , I’ll be your friend for life. Like you know what to the proverbial blanket.  I’m the same with Gardeners – I’ve rarely met a Gardener that I didn’t like. It’s a bit of a benchmark thing.

Same with Fairylights People. 

Are you a Fairylights Person? If so, what are your favourites ? What do you think of LED lights? 

And most importantly : Do you leave them up all year?

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Since last we met ..

Since last we met ... I’m pressing this to see what happens ..

Posted in '' Family'' ''Childrens Activities'' ''Green Activities for Children'' ''Nature Children'' ''Wild Child'' ''Children & Nature'', Artist Blogs, Eco Living, Environment, garden, gardening, green living, nature, Recycling, sustainable living | Tagged | Leave a comment

Since last we met ..

. . . It’s been Yuletide , Winter Solstice , Christmas , Hanukkah , Holidays – and it’s snowed a hell of a lot.  Chez the Welsh Garden, on the festival front, we singled out Winter Solstice and Christmas for special attention. Having said that I’ll celebrate anything as long as there are fairy lights involved ; I’m not fussy.

We had a tree, of course, ‘The Tree’ – not a real one , a falsey. With decorations, old and new. Quite a few homemade ones this year. Austerity Britain, and all that.

I even decked the halls with boughs of holly. Sort of. The door anyway. And mistletoe, a sprig. It didn’t see much action.

Mince Pies were baked and cranberries slurbled and glooked on the stove into a sauce-mess until Globby Fine (that one was for you Jan).  Presents were opened and chocolates were scoffed. And a fine old time was had by all.

 Sorry it’s all over. Still, Happy New Year! Bring on 2011. Can’t wait for that VAT increase.

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My Mum’s going on the X factor

Oh Gawd. I meant well.  It’s been a while. You know – since I blogged. And I meant to start up again – blogging – with something, you know, ‘Garden-ey’.

It was going to be Christmas-sy too. Yuletide meets Hearthside via The holly & The Ivy and the compost heap.  I was going to go all Festive on The Home Front. To blind you with Austerity Chic. I was even going to charm you with my folk-artsy home-made decorations.  See below.  Be charmed, if you like. Or underwhelmed. I’ll leave it with you.

But then last night the inevitable happened. That which is The X-Factor.

At this juncture I could bring shame upon myself and my loved ones. I could discuss  the woefully obvious attributes of some of this years male contestants. From there we could be just one short lambrini lurch into Guilty Pleasure territory. Old enough to be their mother. No,really,I am. So I won’t mention Matt Cardle, Aiden Grimshaw or – most worryingly of all – Zayn from One Direction. It wouldn’t be right. It would be a bit wrong. A bit innapropriate.

(Wrong)

 

(Really Wrong)

(Call Social Services)

 

And anyway, it’s all over now. They’ve all left the building. Even Wagner.

(Hell-o)

I am left with a terrible connundrum.  

For the last however many weeks it’s been (and oh, how it feels like a lifetime..) Eldest & I have been sitting through the X factor of a Saturday night . But Alas it is no more.  So now what?

I hit upon an idea.  I told it to Eldest.  And now Eldest has gone into school and told everybody : My Mum’s Going On The X Factor.

I’m not,of course. It was a fib. But Eldest has now started perfecting the X Factor Voice-Over technique. Eldest has taken to announcing me when I come down the stairs . Eldest used to shout ‘M-A-A-A-R-Y    B-U-U-U-R-N-E !’  only now it’s ‘M-Y  M-U-U-U-M-M-M !’ – and I’m getting worried.  Because now I’ve told a porky and it’s going to be tricky getting out of this one.

So.  I need your help.  I’d better choose an audition song, and quickly.  I was thinking maybe ‘Flying Without Wings’ . Loius would like that. Or is it a bit dated now,that one, a bit Gareth Gates?  Or maybe I could do ‘You raise me up’ ? You know, for Simon. He likes that one.  But he’d still have to ask Sinitta if it was ok to put me through.  And what if she’s wearing a couple of strategically placed banana leaves again? I wouldn’t know where to look..

So many questions. So many things that could go wrong.  So many songs to choose from…  I’d better get practising.  I havn’t got long. But what do you think I should sing?

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Remembrance of things past …

 

It’s been a day of remembering.  When I remember I remember all of them.  I think of the Mothers,the Lovers,the Dad-less Children.  I think not about sides but about grief and loss.

* *  *

After observing the two minute silence today , at the eleventh minute at the eleventh hour at the eleventh month, I looked out of the kitchen window and saw a rainbow.  It seemed wrong and it seemed right. It made me sad and it made me smile.  Loss and Hope.

We need to remember them.  If we forget them we shall be lost.

* * *

I looked at some pictures of Summer today.  Summer by the sea in West Wales.  How long ago Summer seems now.  Summer has gone.  Outside the wind howls at the doors and windows.  Inside the wind whistles down the chimney and whips up the fire in the woodburner. Outside it threatens to take hostages and bring whole trees down.Inside the candles flicker and children and cats sleep.

Looking at holiday photos on a bleak November night. The laughing children beach faces of Summer Gone will never return.  They will never be that small, that young, again.  Precious,precious times. Precious, precious people.

* *  *  *

We must remember them all. We must know how lucky we are. And we must keep those that we love , and that love us, close.

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