Uncategorized · writing

And I am done!

Good grief…I did it. It might not be the work of art or the mass word count of those who are trying to complete their novels, but I am happy. I’m very happy. My story of these two children moving into their new home, first draft, is done. It came in at 7,787 words. I  have updated my word total on the Camp NaNoWriMo site and closed down Scrivener now. I’m going to leave it shut now for the rest of the day too. I’m just going to enjoy the fact that I jumped in and had a little go, and I did it. I know it is only the 16th July today, so I know that if I choose to, I have time to hop back in and add more and play with it. But at least I have hit my goal! I had done a search on Google for an idea of a word count for a Children’s Short Story and 7500 seemed to be something acceptable to shoot for. So I aimed for that, hit that and went some over. I can live with that.

I had done a search on Google to get an idea of what a word count is for a children’s short story, and the majority of sites reckoned between 7,500 words and 9,000. So I thought I’d go for the lower count. It seemed to be something acceptable to shoot for. So I aimed for that, hit it and then went some over. I can live with that.

What have I learned so far? Well, that I ffff-lipping love writing! OK, so this is all new to me, so right now I have that excitement born of something new, but even so, everything about this just excites me so much. This morning when I finished my little story, I was left feeling rather deflated. Now what was I supposed to do?!

Over these last couple of weeks, I have joined groups and forums. I have Googled my backside off finding snippets to note down in one of my many notebooks. I have subscribed to some really lovely YouTube channels and enjoying watching through those. There is such a wealth of information out there!

I’ve also bought a book called The Five Minute Writer. I have found it to be a super little book for helping find ideas and thoughts. Basically, you flip the book open to anywhere you choose. There will be a short intro into what that theme is, and then a five-minute exercise to do. I have been doing them as a warm up to my writing. So I start my day with one of these exercises, then get stuck into Scrivener.

My writing day has quite set itself into its own little routine. Once children and husband are out the door to school and work (or settled into what ever activity they are involved in), I grab a cuppa and set my self up at the table. One day, I hope to have my own office to write in! How exciting would that be?! I then pull out my Five Minute Writer book and choose something randomly. I admit I don’t always choose to do the one that I open at though. Once that is done, I open up Scrivener, grab my phone and set the timer to ten minutes. I complete a sprint and then get up and go do something different – housework, decorating, whatever it may be. Then back for another sprint. It seems to be working for me, and if I am on a roll, I am more than happy to just keep going.

Time for lunch now – I’m starving! And then, I have a whole list of sites to hit and YouTube videos to check out on planning out your novel. I have decided that I am definitely going to have a crack at Novembers NaNoWriMo and this time, I intend to go in armed. I want a full plan and research, the lot. I absolutely love planning things, so I am looking forward to this stage! Mind you, I have already hit my first snag.

It’s not a problem as such, just a wee snag…I have this vision of my book and I couldn’t begin to describe how excited I am about it. I even see the front cover! My problem is the name. It was perfect. It described what my book is to be about exactly I thought. I then checked on Amazon and there are a few books with that already. Just my luck. Worse than that, I even had a title for book two…some bugger has his first two books of a series with my titles…both of them! OK, so it made me chuckle. Made me call him a few names too, but it did make me smile that I had obviously picked good names. Just a shame that it was his books, lol!

Many blessings!
Hugs!
xXx

 

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Life · Uncategorized · writing

Camp NaNoWriMo – Week Two

Well, who would have thought that we are half way through Camp already! I wasn’t sure I would still be here after week one, let alone still going strong in week two. And I couldn’t be happier!

Well, I started Camp with nothing more than a blank page, and a, “What is all this about? Looks fun!” and “I wonder…” And now, I am addicted.

My story originally started life as an idea I had years ago when my youngest son was born. I wanted to write him some pagan stories as there weren’t many at all for children. Sure, you could buy the books on ‘how to’, but nothing really aimed at children stories. So I came up with a basic outline then, and that’s all it ever was really. A couple of years later my daughter was born and the story resurfaced and this time it was rewritten to include her, but again went no further. It was just a simple text document that stayed on my hard drive collecting dust.

As I was starting Camp very, very green, it was the perfect thing to pull out, dust off and relook at. It certainly helped to have that tucked away for a rainy day! I can’t say that I have followed the original story and it has now completely morphed into something different.

The Plan – a set of eight short stories on the eight sabbats of the Pagan Wheel of the Year. The two children would take us through a year with their family and their goings on. So part fiction, part non-fiction. The story is still the two children, and they are in a pagan family, but they are moving into their new neighbourhood in this story instead.

Basically, I’m a grade A waffler and I had read that at Camp (as well as during the main event in November) the goal is to write. Just write. So I did! I waffled on so much though and added in things I hadn’t thought about, that the whole story changed. I’m not sad about it, I love it. I love that my characters have a whole life of their own. They have characters that have grown, thoughts, emotions and it is like their lives are playing out on my screen and it has nothing to do with me. I wanted them to have a Halloween party, but no, they wanted to build a tree house and find the perfect spot for a Fairy Village. Very rude if you ask me, they didn’t even ask first!

So how is my word counts going? I have surprised myself every day that I have written. I haven’t written every day I do admit. But considering I didn’t start until day 4, my word count sits at 6098 – not bad considering I started off with a goal of 1000 words! Then I upped it to 2000. Next, I tried 5000, then 6000 and currently my goal is 7500. I think I shall hit that this weekend quite easily and not sure I will up it again. So I think my plan will be for this next week, is to finish writing this story and then look at starting to edit maybe.

I even joined in my first Write-In this week. I really enjoyed that and can’t wait for next weeks. I did connect to watch last weeks event, but I just lurked…I wasn’t ready to poke my head out from behind my monitor just yet. But no one poked me in the nose for joining in this week, so all is well!

I hope everyone who is joining in with Camp NaNoWriMo this month is having as much fun as I am. I do wonder if it is as much fun when November rolls around and I am trying to hit 50,000 words!

Many blessings!
Hugs!
xXx

Life · Uncategorized

I’m going to do what?!

Well, it’s been a while. I would love to think that I could be one of those people who write a blog every single day and make a difference to people, but I am just not that sort of person. I’ll write in fits and starts, and to be perfectly honest, for myself. There, I said it, I’m selfish. But I was reading my blogs that I follow and watching the vlogs that I subscribe to, and I had an urge to write again. So I am. Just because I want to and because I can!

Normally, I am one of those people who keeps everything to herself. Even my poor husband doesn’t get to know what is going on in my head half the time and to be fair, he is safer that way, hehe! But seriously though, I have always been that way. I give out snippets if I want to, and secretly squirrel away on some new thought or project and then I will tell. Yeah, I am a very closed person. I know that. And those who are close to me and actually know me, know that too. And that is OK.

The other month I blogged about the ideas of these Bucket Lists and it has been playing on my mind since. I know I’ll not get everything done on the list that I created and that is OK too. But there are a few points on there, that I would really like to accomplish.

  • Get a degree at University
  • Write a book
  • Loose some weight
  • Learn Sign Language

These are four just off the top of my head that I could think of this minute. Well, I have begun!

Last week, I joined up with Weight Watchers. I’m doing it on my own online. So we shall see how that goes. So far, Week 1…I put on one pound, hahaha! To be fair, I started this AFTER I had done all the weekly shopping, so had to make do with what I already had. Plus, it was that time of the month. So really, I have just started Week One.

Learn Sign Language, well, that one will come.

But, I have joined up with Open University and signed onto BA (Honours) English Literature and Creative Writing! Holy crap! OK, now I need to confess…I did, in fact, join them last year. But, I got so overwhelmed. I had done research, read blogs and watched vlogs about what it would be like but nothing compared me for what I was taking on!

I checked out what hours were involved and wrote up a timetable for myself. I would study Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. Catch up on evenings if I needed to. I got started and was really enjoying myself and was so proud of myself for doing this. But when things got a little tough I soon discovered that I had no support. The responses from people that I was doing this degree was unreal. Why would I waste my time on something that I didn’t need? I’m a stay-at-home mother and housewife! What a waste of time. And it went on. That really did affect me and upset me more than I let on. People who I expected support and a pat on the back…nothing. It got too much and so I caved, and I decided to quit. Thankfully though, my tutor at the time was so great. She got me to change my mind and instead of quitting, to defer and bank my assignments that I had completed just in case. I’m so grateful that I listened to her!

So, yesterday, I signed on to start again. This October, I start again on my degree. This time I am more aware of what I am walking in to and what to expect. I have me, my tutors and my class and I will do this! Well, here is to the next six years of study!

OK, so that is point number one. Degree at University on the way…

Number two then! I’m going to write a book. Yes! Have you ever heard of the event held each year called NaNoWriMo. It’s National Novel Writers Month. Each year in November, thousands upon thousands of people sign up for this challenge to write a novel in one month. Crazy, I know! But the goal is to get to 50,000 words. It’s a huge deal and must be one heck of an achievement. Well, through the year they also run a couple of Camps. These are in April and again in July. One month to write to a specific goal, be it a word count, a number of lines, or time writing. Basically, it is a warm up to the main event I think.

Well, I just joined up to NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo. Now, I’m not saying that I am going to go all in and go for the Novembers huge challenge, but I am going to start off with a Camp. Even though this Camp started five days ago, I’m still going to have a go and see what happens. I already have an idea in mind and is something that I have wanted to do for a good number of years.

When my son was born, I wanted him to have some books and stories for kids that were pagan based. There were not that many at all around! 11 years on, there are a few now and more coming on the market all the time. But I have the basic outline of what I wanted to do and where I wanted the stories/book to go, so I am going to see if I can bring that all into being.

So, I’m off to go put the kettle on, swap over the laundry and then set to and start writing a book! How flippin’ exciting! And where normally I wouldn’t have told a soul…I just told all of you! Eeeeek!

I shall let you know how I get on!

Many blessings!
Hugs!
xXx

Food · History · Uncategorized

Bacon Turnovers…

These are a favourite! They are fabulous hot as part of a main meal or even cold to go in lunchboxes, picnics, etc. They are so easy to make and takes no time at all to do, after just a short amount of time on preparation.

These are made in two parts. The pastry and the mixture. Myself, I tend to make the mixture and while that cools, I make the pastry. The pastry in the main recipe is different to the one that I use. We like the Potato Pastry that was commonly used during the war as it saves on flour when it could be hard to find/afford. We prefer the taste though. My husband says that it reminds him of the pastry used in the Clarks Pies from Bristol where he was born.

Bacon Turnovers
The filling
Ingredients:

  • 4oz bacon rashers, chopped and fried
  • 2 leeks finely chopped and cooked (I actually only use 1)
  • 8oz cooked potatoes, diced
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons of parsley

Cook everything, mix together and set aside.

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As a side note, this mixture on it’s own is delish!!

Potato Pastry
Ingredients:

  • 4oz Self Raising Flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1.5 – 2 oz cooking fat
  • 4oz smooth mashed potato
  • Little water to bind

Sift the flour with the salt. Rub in the fat well. Then add the potato and mix well. Add enough water to bind.

This is a soft pastry.

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Divide the pastry into four. Roll out each piece into a circle. Put some of the filling mixture onto one half of the pastry and fold the pastry over and seal closed – it should look like a pasty.

Mine are round…mine have to be gluten free, and the gluten free flour is shite! Well, for this it is. It does the job, but it is not flexible at all. So I have to push my dough out into a round, fill it with mixture and lay another round on top, then seal. I did brush the tops of mine with a little milk. When made with regular flour, it’s perfect.

Bake in a fairly warm oven for 25 mins. I think I had my oven set to around 180C.

One thing I did do today while I was cooking this all up, was cook extra potato for tomorrow – baked fish cakes tomorrow!

Toodle pip!
Hugs!
xXx

Celebrations · Life · Pagan · Sabbats · Uncategorized

Beltane is coming!

As I have shared before, I am pagan as is my family. And as such, we celebrate the sabbats, or the festivals of the pagan calendar, quite often called ‘The Wheel of the Year’. The next sabbat to come up is Beltane. This pops up on May 1st and is a joyous occasion and one to really let your hair down and celebrate. It is from this festival that we get the Mayday festivals and the May Poles, etc.

The year is pretty much split into two segments if you will. There is the Light Half and the Dark Half. It has nothing to do with what magic is practiced before anyone comes up with that one (heard it before *rolls eyes*), but the amount of light that is available as the sun wanders about our beautiful planet. In October at Samhain, we enter the Dark Half of the year, where we prepare for the hardships of winter, making sure the last of the crops are in and get ready to hunker down through the cold of winter. As we hit May and Beltane, we celebrate the Light Half of the year returning at the opposite end of the Wheel. It is a time when the God and Goddess marry and all the joys that come with such a union. This is why Handfastings are traditionally done at this time – although my own Handfasting was in August! It is a time of fertility (not just in the bedroom!) but in fields and pastures, hopes and dreams.

But how do we celebrate this as a family thing?

Well, first thing, as with any sabbat that comes along in our house, we get our Pooka Pages magazine! I’m not sure who gets more excited, me or the children! OK, OK, so it is probably me. Pooka Pages is a free online magazine that is made available just before each sabbat. You can get your own magazine at Pooka Pages here. It is basically about a little black cat called Pooka and his witch, Elsie. There is usually a story or three in there with a lovely message for the children. There will be colouring pages and activities and some recipes and crafts for them to try. We have been reading our Pooka Pages for several years now. It’s free, no sign up and you just go to their website and click the link and you can download the pdf and then print it out at your leisure or just read it online – I downloaded mine just this morning, printed it out and it is all stapled and sat waiting fro the kids and I to read it!

So next I shall go through the magazine, see what ingredients we need and any craft supplies, etc. Then look at decorations. This sabbat is lovely and colourful and I’ll look for flowers – bought, planted and made. There will be ribbons hung in differing colours and anything else that the children feel that they want up. It’s their sabbat too!

I’ll plan food for the day. I do try and have something traditional in some shape or form, although it usually changes as the children decide they don’t like something or want something different! Quite often a BBQ is involved – can’t argue with that! But whatever food we do have, it will be fun. Drinks too! Can’t have fun food without fun drinks.

Foods for this time of year will be colourful ones – strawberries and cherries, red, rose wines and fruit punches, oats, honey, anything food that is pinks or red…think lurve!

I’ll post some of the recipes that I am making in a few days time (probably over the weekend) as I bake and make ready for Monday.

Sometimes we hold full ritual. The children, especially the eldest, loves this part and just this morning was asking me what I was preparing for rituals and can he do something too. They started to take more of an interest last year at Litha and did their first rituals then. Being the proud mummy, I snivelled a touch, I’ll admit it, lol.

I shall hold my own more formal rituals later on when the children are in bed. I haven’t actually written this years yet. But I have my Book of Shadows that has my rituals in, so I will use my basic ritual and then alter it for the occasion.

Something else that happens over Beltane is something quite a few people have heard of, the Beltane Fires will be lit. Years back when, our homes were heated through the main fire of the house, where the cooking would be done too. The hearth and heart of the home. It was important that these fires didn’t go out if you could help it, or you have no heat and no food! But at Beltane, the fires would be put out and made ready when the Druids would light the Beltane fires and flames would be passed from house to house re-lighting our hearth fires with the new flames. As the cattle and herds were being sent out into the fields and pastures, they would be driven between two such fires to drive out and ward off any ill or negativity, and to give the cattle the protection as they were ushered off out into their summer pastures.

In life today we don’t really see this happening anymore, but what we can do, is to go through our homes and clean out anything that is not needed – give it to charity, throw it out, pass it on and make way and room for the new. Have a good clean too. Light a fire (candle) and pass it around your home. Have a couple of fires (candles very well spaced apart for safety!) and go through these for the same thing – ward off anything and to offer protection.

It will be a day of fun, and a day of the family spending time together as we celebrate the sabbat and festival that is Beltane.

Many blessings!
Hugs!
xXx

Food · History · Uncategorized

Faggots!

Now I know a lot of people will turn their noses up and think, ‘Brains’! But we love our faggots here. And these faggots, are slightly different, and flippin’ tasty!

Here is the recipe…

Mock Faggots in Onion Gravy

Ingredients:
*450g sausage meat (I bought Free From ones and squeezed out the meat from the      casings)
* 1 x onion, chopped finely
* 1 x leek chopped finely
* Breadcrumbs – match volume, not weight
* Dried Sage – to taste
* Knob lard or fat

Method:
Gently fry the onion and leek in the fat.
Mix sausage meat and breadcrumbs together and then add the onion and leek mixture.
Add the Dried Sage and season to taste.
Mix very well and then form into balls – this should make 12 balls.
Place 4 balls into each foil container and set aside.
Cover with onion gravy, add the lids and bake at about 170C for approx 35 to 40 minutes.
Serve with mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables.

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Onion Gravy

Ingredients:
1 x onion, chopped
1 x tbsp sugar
1 x tsp malt vinegar
1 x tbsp flour (I used gluten free and it works perfectly)
1 x Pork stock cube in 400 ml boiled water
Knob of lard or fat

Method:
Gently fry the onion in the fat.

Add the sugar and vinegar and cook until the vinegar has evaporated.
Add the flour and cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the stock.
Bring to a boil and then let simmer until the gravy thickens.
Season to taste.

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Pour this over the prepared faggots prior to cooking.

If this looks a little pale, add some browning. It doesn’t alter the taste, only darkens the colour.

One good thing about these being made into the smaller tubs, is you can freeze them once cooked and cooled. That’s what we did. Had one half for dinner and the other half is in the freezer.

I found that the gravy didn’t quite make enough for us (personal taste I guess, but my husband likes a LOT of gravy) and so I did have to cheat and make up some onion gravy from store bought that I had in the cupboard. But, even so, the whole dish was delicious! I think though, next time, instead of doing four balls to a tin, I’d do three. I was SO full afterwards!

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You can get the dishes from just about anywhere. Just look for the foil containers with the card/foil lids. I bought my last lot from Tesco I think. I also found them in one of the various Pound shops too in town.

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Give them a go. They are cheap, filling and very tasty.

Toodle pip!
Hugs!
xXx

Food · History · Uncategorized

Our 1940s Ration Week!

I have such a fascination and love with the 1940s. I love the homes, the fashion, the ethics. We were a proud nation then and didn’t bat an eyelid about saying so too. I’m not actually sure when my love for this era began, but I love it none the less. If I could, I would step back in time in a heartbeat. We may have been at war then (and just emerging from) but life was simpler then.

I used to be with a group that did re-enacting. I wasn’t with them for long as I moved away and I lost touch with them. But I did love the few events that I went with them on. They played an American group and us girls were to be the nurses. But I actually cannot stand guns. They shit the life out of me! Even holding one, not firing one, just holding one sent me off in a big girly bawling fit behind our mess tent. I felt such a prat, but I couldn’t help it. So really, it was no use me being with them, no matter how they said that they could work with me and round my ‘issues’. What I would dearly love to do though, is the Home Front.

I love making a home, and having that 1940s feel to it. We were going to slowly change our home over to a more 1940s decor, but with two younger children at home, I’d be so worried about damage. It’s not like we can just pop to Argos and get a new CC41 sideboard now, is it! I do actually have a most lovely piece. I found it on ebay. The chap was selling it for a tenner. I bought it and paid for him to deliver it. It was SO heavy and I died when I saw it. I loved it! But the surprise came, when we had it in the living room, and were giving it a good polish and looking for a makers mark and saw the stamp CC41! I literally squealed!

1940s Sideboard

It is so heavy, very well made of course, but when you open the cupboard doors, it smells of TCP! It did stink quite a bit when we first bought it, over a year ago now. Now, it just smells…

I love to listen to the music too. I have a few radio stations that I like to listen to. My favourite has to be The 1940s Radio Station. They have such a collection on there. Then there is Harry and Edna on the Wireless. These two are great! Harry is a hoot. And Edna, she is so lovely to listen to. The banter and the music. Such a joy to just have on in the background. There are many others, and I am sure, loads that I have yet to discover.

I love the fashion. I’ve had a go at making some outfits too. My favourite has to be my navy high waisted trousers, and then my pale blue peplum blouse. I have a whole bundle of my snoods that I have made. I used to wear my hair in a simple version of the classic victory rolls. They weren’t the huge in your face variety, but much smaller and gentler, but still unmistakable. I always have my red lippy to hand too!

But also, the food. I love, how the housewife of that time, could take so little, and create so much. The food might not be so flavourful and vast as we enjoy now, but she knew how to prepare it to make it last for her family. She fed her family as well as she could. In fact, if you look, they might have had less that we do now, but they were far healthier than we are now! You look on our supermarket shelves now at all the vitamins and supplements. All the diet products…and all the crap we now have!

Our family have been doing ‘Ration Weeks’ for a good few years now. Even the kids get excited when I let them know we are doing another. I love that! Even my fussy husband joins in. The first time we did one of these weeks, we went all out! I only bought food that was within our rations and the whole week was done properly. We even had a go at Lord Woolton Pie. I didn’t for a minute think my husband would even touch it as if it isn’t a potato, pea or baby carrot, you don’t have a hope in heck…but he went back for seconds!! I was gobsmacked.

We decided that this week, we would have another week. Not so strict really, but our meals will be 1940s recipes. I have quite a few books now, so all come from those, or one of my favourite sites, The 1940s Experiment . Carolyn runs this site, and is a wealth of info. She is doing a fabulous experiment to see if she can loose weight whilst being on a 1940s diet. She has done amazingly well too. Go check her out!

Anyway…I sat and wrote out my lists for shopping tomorrow, so over this week, I’ll grab piccies and pop in and out to share what we have for dinner. I’m hungry already just thinking about it!

This is our rations for the week for the family – if we were doing a full proper week and not just the dinners. This was worked out not on the worst or the best ration amounts, but on an average really.

Medium Level Rations during WW2 per week

(2 adults, 2 Children)

Bacon & Ham:                18oz                   /           510g

Sugar:                              36oz                  /           1012g

Tea:                                    9oz                  /              255g

Meat:                           3lb 9oz                  /           1615g 

Cheese:                           13oz                  /              368g

Preserves:                        9oz                  /              340g

Butter:                             15oz                  /             425g

Margarine:                     24oz                  /             680g

Lard:                                  9oz                  /             255g

Sweets:                            12oz                  /             340g

Eggs:                                      7                 or            1 packet of 12 dried eggs

Milk:                                  14.5pts 

+Points:                             20

Powdered Milk:             1/2 tin (4pts)

I’ll put up some pics, and share with you the recipes too. We love to do this, and I tell you, it doesn’t half save on your food bill! Just today for example, changing my shopping list from what it was going to be, to 1940s dinners alone, saved me just over £28! It saves so much more when you do a full ration week too ;o)

Toodle pip!
Hugs!
xXx