This works x

 

I’m assuming it’s a reaction to the lockdown and the run on food at the start, over laid with a frisson of guilt that this whole thing is Mother Nature’s way of saying the greed has to stop, but my cooking habits are getting more frugal, but in the same way more inventive? A lunchtime staple is chicken marinated in garlic and lemon, cooked on a skillet.  Except now I keep the lemon rinds and follow the advice above here, except I put them in the oven straight away on a moderate heat, wait 20 mins keeping an eye on them – you don’t want them to burn and turn bitter, then satisfyingly crush them to dust in my mortar and pestle.  The resulting lemon dust is a citrus dream and I’ve used it in rice, on cakes, even on the chicken, anywhere for a burst of summer freshness.

 

 

(All pics Pinterest)

 

To wrap the grilled chicken,  I make Chapatti’s, so simple: one cup of wholewheat flour, one cup of self raising, one teaspoon of salt, two tablespoons of oil, enough warm water to turn into a dough. Mix. Knead for 10 minutes – get the days frustrations out – divide into 8. Leave for minimum of 10 minutes.  (I make at 11 when I do the family coffee/hot chocolate round, use at 12.30) Roll out as thin as you can. Place in bottom of skillet, no oil needed. Wait till it bubbles, turn, then on with the next one.

Fill with grilled chicken or halloumi or falafels or all three. Top with fresh salad and roasted vegetables. Drizzle with humus, tzatziki and red pepper tapenade.

 

Eat with joy.

 

Laters, Kate x

Layabout 2!

 

So Monday’s post was about soft, squishy, adaptable garden chairs and this photo made the prime slot.  But there’s no pattern.  But I don’t think it would be too hard to deconstruct: Two box cushions for the seat, make first.  Two side cushions, once done will give measurements for back cushion. Finish with leather buckles at side and back. I’m sure those with more skill than me can even pipe the edges…I may give that a go!

 

 

This looks like a piece of foam cut to size, versus bean bag beads for stuffing or foam bits. In many ways it’s is a simpler design, but possibly harder on the sewing? Again, I would replace the velcro with the leather straps.

 

 

 

And then there are variations on a theme!


 

As and When I make, I will post again!

 

Laters, Kate x

Layabout x

 

I’ve been exploring garden living, the sort that is lush, soft and forgiving, but then also thinking beyond just summer use to multi-functional, multi-family use…

 

 

What’s interesting is the prices – we’re talking generally from £500 upwards..the same price as armchairs with the wooden structure inside.

 

The set above? £1499 from Maison Du Mode.  I’ve seen the Sewing Bee…this is not hard sewing.

 


 

So I’m thinking maybe I’ll make my own.  And combine the best of what I see.

 

 

I love this design, lay it out and it’s a large, lounging cushion, close the leather straps and it’s a chair.

 

 

Imagine in ticking…

 

(All pics Pinterest)

Or a striking Peruvian weave….

And repurposed in the Children’s rooms during the winter months….

Food for thought.

 

Laters, Kate x

Yin and Yang x

 

 

The good news is my window boxes are the best they’ve ever been….It’s amazing what watering every day will do…

 

 

The bad news is I should’ve taken the picture before I watered them.

 

 

The good news is my climbing rose is chocka with an abundance of buds.

 

 

The bad news: Because of the mild winter, they’re covered in aphids…sad face emoji

 


 

Good news: Charlie and I planted a whole load of seeds.

 

 

Bad news: Three weeks later and I think we’re cultivating weeds.

 

 

Or they’ve died.

 

 

The good news: My plant delivery finally arrived!

 

 

Bad news: Why are they always so much smaller in reality?

 

 

Good news: Finally got the wall painted black.

 

 

Which is a good thing….as it distracts from the newly christened ‘Comb-over’ Tree.

 

 

Bad news:  The husband ‘pruned’ it..it once was the luscious twin to this one climbing the wall..

 

 

The good news: It has a bud!

 

 

Bad news: It’s sorely needed…

 

 

The good news: The garden is becoming a haven.

 


 

The bad news: The barbecue has just collapsed.

 

But the good news? It’s a job for the husband…and might just keep him away from my plants….

 

 

Laters, Kate x

The Pull x

 

The one thing I’ve been grateful for every day of this lockdown has been the weather. Nine times out of ten the sky has been a forget-me-not blue, possibly bluer, with each passing day as the urban pollution has cleared.  It’s had an effect, not only on all our moods, but also on  the garden that has now burst into acid green, waving fronds and baby buds.  It feels we are in early summer rather than spring and I can’t imagine the same time with grey skies and pouring rain. As yet, I haven’t dared swap over my summer wardrobe, not wishing to give this gift life the kiss of death, but I have moved back to transition dressing – the same basics but with lighter layers, one step away from high summer cotton dresses. The last thing I’ve wanted to do in lockdown is buy clothes.  But the truth is, if we want there to be a recovery, spending needs to happen, and not just at Amazon. With this in mind, all these pics all come from Massimo Dutti, offering the sort of pieces that stand the test of time: strong, classic and well made;  if there are any holes in your wardrobe, here’s where to look to fill them..

 

(All pics Massimo Dutti and Pinterest)

And regarding prices? think Zara rather than Chanel. Just saying.

Laters, Kate x

 

Doings x

 

The Sketchbook Revival has proved to be a family life line in this strange and weird time and has become a part of our routine, like furniture in a room.  In fact a few odd things have become a part of our routine: Over lunch we all do a number puzzle (this makes it sound easier than it is – some of them are real buggers) which over in North London my Father and Brother are also doing (It’s sent out in the morning..and I hear it’s being passed on to all manner of people who want to give their brain cells a beating).  Then after supper, when work is finished and the day is drawing to a close, we gather round the kitchen table to follow the sketchbook revival, never knowing what we’re going to be asked to do next.  This time together is not about comparison or competition, but connecting and just doing; Here’s a thought: if you don’t do art because you think everything you produce is sh*t, think about who’s made that decision?  Is it limiting? Why should you limit yourself? Now put it into perspective –  are you ever going to sell your art? No.  Will it be a fun thing to do? Possibly…but until you try with an open mind, you’ll never know…and let me tell you from experience..shit art has real comedy value.

 

 

But that’s now come to an end.  (Although you can still follow the series until April 26, link here) Sob. So what next??

 

My mother sent a link this morning to Firstsite and their Artist Activity Packs which can be downloaded for FREE. All manner of artists from Jeremy Deller to Annie Morris to Anthony Gormley and Grayson Perry have or are intending to contribute, offering projects, thoughts and inspiration, designed for children and adults alike  that can be explained or done on a sheet of A4. A quick look through – the first pack is 26 pages – reveals all sorts of gems from drawing a self portrait with your eyes closed to making a chain of people designed by Anthony Gormley. Can I underline – this is pure gold dust and  liquid star beams and basically the stuff dreams are made of: Can you imagine all these artist’s competing to come up with the best ideas..and then giving it out for free???

 

(All pics Firstsite and Pinterest)

Sorted. With a huge, happy smile.

Laters, Kate x

Ode, owed x

 

We lost Molly on Wednesday, just a few weeks before her 17 birthday.  We knew the end was coming, but we were hoping she’d hang out just long enough.  We got her as a tiny puppy, small enough to sit in my hand, when I was going through repeated miscarriages and then a long bout of infertility; she was our first baby.

 

 

And my, she was a character! There was the incident when we had an architect to visit, and quietly and silently she took every item out of her bag, from phone to keys to hankies and carried them downstairs to a pile in the sitting room.  Another time, when Bella was being potty trained and we were laying a patio in the garden so Molly couldn’t be let out – this was the time when she was very funny about where she did her business  – we took her for a walk, but nothing. So we closed all the doors and expected a disaster. In the morning we came down to find a perfect poo – in Bella’s potty! During one lot of building renovations we had to live in Brighton for two weeks – and ended up buying Molly a square of fake grass to persuade her to wee! Although her favourite thing to wee on was discarded cigarette wrappers…she’d scour the common for them, then perform a dextrous three legged expulsion of both satisfaction and disgust. She also had a deep held hatred of pigeons, particularly  in her garden – all we had to say was ‘is there?’ and she would hurl herself through the dog flap to charge out to see off the infernal infidels.

 

 

When I finally became pregnant with Bella, Pauline, a local elderly lady started walking her to help me out – in those months, my world became very small in an attempt to hold onto the pregnancy – Pauline and Molly became as thick as thieves – Pauline would drop in at any time saying, ‘I just wondered if Molly would like a walk,’ and very often, on a Sunday, they would get the bus to the London Oratory and go to High Latin Mass together.  One priest once made a fuss, but never again, the other Fathers rallied around and even the Bishop said no, God cared for all animals, and promptly blessed her!

In later years, when Pauline became housebound, I would walk the kids to school, drop Molly off at Paulines, so they could spend the day together, then do the reverse at the end of the day, taking Pauline her shopping. Pauline is in a home now, still going strong, she knows Molly hasn’t been in the best of health, but I haven’t broken the news to her yet. It’s something I dread.

 

 

Our hope was that she would pass away in the garden, under her favourite tree; we had reached the point where quite often we were checking to see if she was still breathing.  Then this week, she developed a bladder problem, and we knew the time had come.  It is such a horrible call to make, you know it is a greater act of love to make it.  But it doesn’t make it any easier.  Particularly, as she did with us – rally when she got to the vets, she even went for a little walk, had a good sniff around…except we never got to the vets as such because of Coronavirus; they had to come out to the car with us staying 2 metres away. They gave her a strong sedative, and John carried her in the street, with me stroking, until she slipped into a deep sleep. Then we laid her on her red towel on her bed in the boot of the car, still stroking her. The vet came back out, and very gently asked if it was OK if they took her now. She wrapped her up like a baby and carried her away to give her the final overdose of anaesthetic inside: The Coronavirus has long tentacles.

 

 

The house has felt very strange without her. We knew this was coming, but the end happened far quicker than I think I was prepared for. Her bed, her bowl, her collar, the sound she made across the floor, the constant bumping and tumbling as she made her way around. But somehow we are getting little messages and reminders. The above picture is a still from our online sketchbook art session last night – and there’s Molly on her shoulder.

 

This is a screen shot from my copy of The Times homes supplement today.

She’s gone. But not forgotten.

Laters, Kate x

Oh The Joys… x

 

 

This post has been pulled from the archives and edited from Summer holidays for Coronavirus especially for Abbi and Laura and all those working from home with young children. Just know, I know that you’re amazing.

  1. You’re watching a film, OK it’s Disney..but actually you’re involved in the story (sad but true)..at the crucial scene (long-lost Anastasia being re-introduced to her frail Grandmother..a real tear jerker. Promise)…there’s always a ‘Mum, mum, I need to tell you something RIGHT NOW.’  Without fail.  Truth be told, happens in all programmes..sport – just as they come to the finishing line, the news..the weather! They announce the weather you’ve waited 30 minutes to hear so you can plan the next day – picnic? no picnic? ….’Mum, MUM!…’
  2. This also relates to map-reading or any activity that requires your immediate attention…..major road junction and need to hear the sat nav? or need to talk to husband because not trusting the stat nav?… ‘Mum, MUM, MUUUUM!’…
  3. The phone..Mum talking on phone means I must talk to her extra loudly SO SHE CAN HEAR ME.
  4. ‘Please guys I need 30 minutes undisturbed’ equals at least six interruptions.  Because each one was only a small one…because they didn’t want to interrupt you…
  5. The call of ‘Mum, MUM!’ from another floor followed by silence…that chick-like cry translates to ‘Drop-everything-you’re-doing-even-if-it’s-saving-the-world-because-I-need-you-to-do-something-really-insignificant-because-if-it-was-important-I- would-actually-bother-to-come-and-find-you’.
  6. The other much heard cry: ‘Mum-MUM-I-need-a-wee NOW!’…guaranteed on a motorway but the worst time so far…Eight hours into a drive on Greek roads at 37 degrees of heat, crawling along on single track, snaking, moutainous road with a stream of lorries which we’d slowly and painfully over-taken without being killed.  We pulled over and had to watch as each and everyone passed us again..I cried. And Charlie was given an empty bottle for the rest of the journey..
  7. The ground-hog-day morning call of ‘Please can everyone have their shoes on and teeth brushed and everything ready so we can go as soon as I’ve finished this’.  You finish tidying the house, sorting the washing, putting the washing machine on, cleaning the fridge (delete/add as appropriate)..and nothing’s happened.  And now you’ll be late…
  8. You’re always late.
  9. The ground-hog-moment of reminding them to say please and thank you on loop throughout the day.  Like hitting you’re head against a permanent wall.  You can remember the date of your birthdays but this is too hard?? It’s the mum equivalent of chinese water torture. Results in No.15.
  10. I say ‘Please can you turn your ipod down’ and I get ‘Well that’s it..I’m just going to throw it in the bin and then you’ll be sorry’.  Like doh? Results in no.15.
  11. The more bored they get, the less I want to do with them, the less they are capable of doing except whining at me for being bored…and then I spout all the cliches: ‘In my day…’
  12. Then you book them on a camp or tennis club..and it’s ‘We don’t want to go because we want to stay with you..’ Why???
  13. The longer you take to cook their breakfast/lunch/supper the less it will be appreciated.  And cooking three meals a day stinks. Results in no.15…for me..
  14. So you have a picnic and where ever you are, whatever you’re doing, you’ll be handed all the rubbish as if you’re one giant dustbin.  Even if you’re driving.  Or getting ready to pilot a rocket to the moon..silently, the used lolly wrapper/empty drink carton, sandwich foil are passed over to you… Do I have ‘I am really a bin’ written in permanent ink on my forehead?  Results in no.15..
  15. I tell them a certain behaviour will result in a consequence.  They never believe I’ll carry it through.  But I do every time..and they’re still shocked.  Like??
  16. Because of no.15 the consequence usually means we don’t do something nice that gets us out of the house.…which means no.11 kicks in…and I’m bored too.
  17. Asking something to be done requires the order in triplicate.  And then no.15 kicks in, followed by no.16.  And then no.18
  18. The longer the school holidays last, the more I find my brain shrinks (see no.1)
  19. And then they’ll disappear and play beautifully together..
  20. Except the more fun they have…. the greater the mess…
  21. Till it reaches a tipping point of hysterical proportions and you say ‘This will all end in tears’.  And it does…
  22. 5 weeks down, three more to go

Yeah. Um. Well. Yep. When actually will it end? This is life now. gulp.

 

GOOD LUCK!!!!!

 

Laters, Kate x

Day 3


The hump day of the week, highlighted by a rebellion from Charlie over running this morning.  All I can think is, why wouldn’t you? The sun is shining, the sky is blue and the blossom is out.  But there’s that expectation to lash out at, the enforced decree.  I think it’s what Boris Johnson is so scared of hence his fudged message: Stay at home, unless you have to work at work, which you can only do safely, but your bosses will decide what that means. Certainly on run, there was very little difference, the main roads are the same, the residential roads are quiet except for builders, who were told to shut up shop, but now are considered able to work safely. A builder working safely? The niggling feeling is Boris is trying to blur the line between caring and the economy.  I wish he would just make a strong stand one way or the other.

Charlie did go for his run – the threat of losing time on Fortnite was a powerful motivator.  But we ran different routes.

The big success has been the daily sketchbook challenge.  On day one Carla Sonheim explained her daily page dump – drawing a box, dividing it up, filling each square with different subjects: day and date, a diary entry, an ideas section, a drawing and an anything goes box.  We’re all doing this every day so that by the end of this we’ll all have diaries of this bizarre, never known before time to look back on and remember.  Once that page is complete, there’s a different artist offering something new to do each day.

 

 

These were from blob drawing and looking at food.

 

 

The idea is not for perfection – and the random nature of the vintage-handmade-sketchbooks really helps with that.

 

 

The email of ideas comes in at 12.  I find myself looking forward to it.

Laters, Kate x