You’ve got to make a living from what you can bring yourself to sell.

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On and off for nearly two years those words from Bad Apples by GnR have been worming around in my brain, taunting me. This year it got even worse, so just to quiet my inner Axl, I made a real effort to start selling oatcakes. And lo, it turns out Mr Rose might even have a point.
Now it’s seems to have started something, because I’m suddenly working hard towards fulfilling some of those teenage fantasies I put aside to be a responsible parent, as well as making oatcakes.  Fun and exciting things are afoot with my musical aspirations, of which more will be revealed later (some hopefully very soon!).
Today, I had to take stock of where I’m going because I had to write a cover letter for my book, Pearls On The Road.  It’s about selling yourself,  of course. The writer is as much a product as their novels. Think of writers like James Patterson,  Stephen King and even Terry Pratchett, they are marketed brands that people strive to ape when they write and people want to read or read facsimiles of.  Do you know how many times I’ve seen George RR Martin cited on the back of books in my library over the last 6 years? Look what happened to the children’s fiction market  after JK Rowling became so wildly succesful. There’s a thousand Rowling mimics on my library shelves now. But the marketing doesn’t just hinge on a writer’s writing style. A writer like Neil Gaimon, whose life is as interesting as his books, is what every publisher really wants because they are easier to sell. Neil is active on twitter, part of an alternative power couple with Amanda Palmer and seemingly effortless at self publicity. He seems pretty happy selling that part of himself, and it surely works for both him and his publishers. 
So, dutifully, I wrote about how terribly interesting I am. I bigged up my small achievements, threw rock n roll and librarian into the same sentence and hoped that part of me is exciting enough to sell. And yet, it’s made me reflective on my own talents, and made me think a great deal about what confidence and hard work are capable of achieving. 
I have no idea if my pitch with Pearls will work, but what I am realising is that I might actually be starting to be interesting.  Maybe that’s something that comes with age!

Ps, I kinda wrote a wee song about this sort of thing a few weeks ago. It’s just called Sunday Morning for now.

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A blight on all our lives…

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Tories. Ugh.
I  really try to make a conscious effort not to slide into the dark laziness of hate and dislike for anyone or thing. I even felt disgust at the  way many people celebrated the  passing of  the lady above,  although I understood exactly where that came from. After all I grew up in a Single Parent family in the 80’s, in Paisley and Glasgow. 
I was considering the impact the British Conservative Party has had on my life and I had something of an epiphany. 
Every day the media, politicians and commentators of varying stripes and backgrounds strive to tell us who it is that is responsible for the state of our lives. Some say it’s Muslims, others Europe, others the feckless unemployed or unemployable (how dare people be born with such poor health they can’t work! *shudder*), some might point at the Bankers or big corporations. All these things are somewhat nebulous and faceless fears, easy to manipulate people with because it’s kind of like the scary thing in the shadows that your imagination runs away with. In other words you can put your own fears into these things because they are so vague.
This is all very useful to the real enemy – Tories.
My epiphany was actually almost annoyingly simple.  Every financial struggle, every hurdle I’ve been forced to climb just to get by in “British Society ” has been because the Tories made it so. From bad schools to dreadful housing, from depressingly dull wage slave work to the ghoulishness of filling out benefit forms for my Autistic offspring, from poverty and deprevation to isolation and the difficulty of escaping these things, they are all a result of a lifetime lived under a government of upper class, self interested Tories.
So anyway, I’m not going to fall in to the  trap of nebulous fears, I’m going to escape those Tory clutches by whatever means necessary.  Which, weirdly, might involve oatcakes.

Gardening and philosophy

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Been busy out in the garden today, indulging in some typically eccentric gardening practices. It’s certainly been the day for it.

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We have a burgeoning food philosophy of our own at this little Crow House. It’s basically about eating low (or preferably no) harm foods. By harm, I mean foods that cause harm in their production.  So, while this means I eat a mostly* vegan diet,  the focus is broader than just harm done to animals. I like to minimise the environmental impact of the foods I choose for us to eat and I like to minimise on other aspects of harm like buying Fair Trade foods and boycotting Israeli produce. As far as I can I only buy fresh food grown in Western Europe because of the carbon footprint. 
Anyway, a huge part of achieving these goals lies in what we grow in our garden. Today, after planting lettuces and french beans, potting up loads of chillies, weeding and tidying all our various deep beds in preparation for some planting and generally getting my hands dirty making food for the summer, autumn and winter, I decided to document the progress so far this year. 

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First stop on the tour of eccentric garden practices is the upcycled shelving deep bed complete with perching cold frame. We had to put the cold frame in as the Glass Corn in this wee section is taller than the deep bed frame and still vulnerable to the throes of Galloway’s spring weather.

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The Glass Corn is planted straight into grow bags to save on weeding. Once we think the frosts are by, the cold frame will be moved and there should be plenty of sun in this spot for the corn!

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Behind the corn, I’ve put in a grow bag of lettuces and one of French beans. Later I’ll put in another bag of each.

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Lettuces are still so tiny! Should be pretty snug in here.

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French Beans. Been a while since we've grown these.

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This is our bio-mass pellet boiler.  It does the central heating and hot water. Just another wee facet of the harm reduction philosophy.  It was kindly fitted by our very local housing trust when we asked for it.

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Potato patch and garlic deep bed. First signs of life are stirring!

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Fruit bushes and strawberries. In pots for easy access to hedge.

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Orchard, green house and our three other deep beds. Yes, the bath is a deep bed. For carrots. Artwork by Cathy Cassidy

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Inside the green house. Tomatoes, broccoli and chillies

Here you can see a little more evidence of eccentric practice.  We’ve kept as many baby plants as possible in their original pots and simply cut the bottoms off. This deepens the root space and disturbs their wee roots much less.

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Tomatoes. Sun Gold and Sweet Millions. Brought on in our heated conservatory early this year.

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Broccoli, summer and winter varieties. Will go in the deep bed behind the green house soon

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Chillies of all kinds. Not entirely sure which....

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Still got more little babies in our conservatory,  so lots more still to plant!

Now I might actually remember next year what worked this year!

* I use local free range eggs in some baking and support local honey makers because bees!

Cake experiments

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Recently I’ve been experimenting using apple as an egg replacer. I’ve made several eggless chocolate cakes using applesauce and it seems to be going pretty well.

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I think that might have been the first attempt there, but they have all come out much the same.  Absolutely delicious,  but loaded with calories!

Anyway,  today I’m trying sweet potato instead of apple (although I did chicken out and use a little applesauce to bolster it.
Fresh out of the oven and it’s looking delicious. 

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I’ll do buttercream icing for it. The crumbs tasted awesome.
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The finished cake!

Making Morrocan for dinner

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And I found this flatbread recipe here.

Ingredients
For the flatbread
200g/7¼oz plain flour
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cinnamon
water, to bind
pinch of salt

Going to switch up the flour for spelt for me and tipo 00 for the boys, then make falafel and chickpea and tomato stew to go with. And cous cous.

Why I decided to share, I’m not sure, but I’ll post a pic of the result.