Happiness is …

… cooking another successful new recipe!

From another new cookbook! When I was at the City Market recently I stopped at the Bookfeast stall and my eye fell on this:

The recipes in the book are fantastic – practical, made with ordinary ingredients, and I have made several of them already. The other night I had a go at a two-dish main, making a dahl as well as this little number:

Spiced spinach and potatoes. When I followed along with the easy-to-understand instructions, my version looked like this:

Not bad, huh?! And it had a nice wallop of taste as well. I served it with some naan bread (Tulsi’s brand, a quick thaw job from the freezer stash) and the contrast of flavour and texture made the extra fiddling about to create two dishes well worth while.

Ninja goes walkies again

It’s been a while since I did a Ninja-centric post, and as her fans may be wondering how she is getting on it is high time for an update.

I am sorry to tell you that she weighed in at 5.2kg recently, and the vet declared she needed to lose weight – at least a kilogram. Oh dear! Since that visit we have been gradually changing her food over to a higher protein/lower carbohydrate formula and undertaking an exercise campaign. Fortunately she still loves to accompany me when I walk around the grove, and the call of “Ninja, walkies!” brings her outside and ready for an expedition.

I wanted to visit the hazelnut orchard to see how these trees were leafing up in the warmer spring weather, and to take some photographs for the Fantail Grove website.

Someone got into the act though:

So of course I ended up taking a whole lot more photos of Ninja than of hazelnuts!

She spotted a bit of damage from the most recent of the equinoxal gales (a lovely phrase to describe the windy conditions we experience in spring):

We’ll have to go back with the pruning saw and paste to tidy this up, and be ready for more damage like this, as we are sure to have another gale or two during October and November.

Ninja loved the hay bales, as from the top she had a good vantage point and could survey her surroundings:

On the way back to the house I opened a gate but she didn’t want to come through it when I did. Perhaps she wanted to prove that she wasn’t too fat to slip underneath it, as I am sure there is a smug expression on her wee face here:

This next photo is probably my favourite of the day – and it also gives you a real sense of how rampant the grass is around here in springtime:

When we got back inside, the first thing Ninja did was rest:

This rug is immediately inside the door!

Starting Points and Glitter Girl

I confess – I am a groupie.

The focus of my fixation? Shimelle Lane. Yes, you have heard of her before, and recently – she is the author of the Learn Something New Every Day on-line course I’m doing that has led to this burst of bloggy creativity. As well as paid-for courses, Shimelle shares her scrapbooking knowledge on her blog, and through videos on the twopeasinabucket site where she is currently producing weekly Glitter Girl episodes.

I know that other Shimelle groupies will immediately recognise this layout as being inspired by her most recent Starting Point post – but those who haven’t already seen it can find it here.

As you can see from the amount of writing on the page, I had a wonderful wander down memory-lane remembering the reasons I enjoyed horse-riding so much, and in particular this lovely-natured horse.

Yesterday I enjoyed a few hours in the company of the Scrapmates (a bunch of on-line and now in-real-life scrapbooking friends). Here are the two layouts I completed:

Can you tell that both layouts are made from the same ‘recipe’? Yet they look different enough that I could put them in the same album (although they’ll actually end up in two – the top one in a Places album, and the bottom one in a People album).


My signature

It’s no secret that I love to create and place a high priority on carving out creative time in my schedule.

My sewing machine is often used to create colourful quilts. While I enjoy the process of making them, the process of giving them to the recipient is actually more fun:

I made a quilt for my niece, using lots of different cat fabrics. This was so she could have cats on her bed even in the university hostel!

The first quilt that was entirely of my own design was a play-quilt (again featuring cats), made for my great-niece. Seeing her move the cats around their various homes on the quilt was such a thrill.

I have also enjoyed making albums for non-scrapbooking friends to easily show off their baby photographs (this one is based on a template shared by Angie Lucas in the Nove/Dec 2007 issue of Simple Scrapbooks):

As well as making gifts, my enthusiasm for hand-made items has led to work with children to create colourful art and crafts. There is something almost magical in children’s enthusiasm for learning and enjoyment in their finished product:

After a holiday craft session at the library, the children happily posed with their decorative kites – look at the wide smiles (but mine was probably wider!).

Through this reflection I have learned that I am happy to have ‘handmade’ as a signature trait. I have also learned that I am grateful for the photo organisation system DH has imposed on the photo files in the computer – I can find what I am looking for!

Time for a layout

Is there such a thing as tempting fate? I’m beginning to wonder, as almost as soon as I commented to a friend that I hadn’t had a cold for two years, I got one!

The first day I wasn’t in any state to do anything but treat myself with paracetamol and hot lemon-and-honey drinks. By the end of day two however, with the headache under control with the above drug, I was able to concentrate for a while and doctor myself with a bit of creativity (very good medicine!).

I viewed this video and then shamelessly copied the LO after I’d created a background using some of my own stamps. So happy to have made something new (and I especially like the little cut-out circle at the bottom)!


What is the pattern?

I’ve been thinking about the pattern of my days through the week, and trying to discern if there is one. Because I work every other week day, and every alternate Saturday, it takes longer than a week for any sequence to repeat (and then my job-share partner and I will probably alter it by swapping days around anyway).

Many years ago my days did follow a predictable pattern, but having a child and then getting sick changed all that.

But I don’t mind that there’s no discernible pattern to my days – I quite like the seeming randomness, and that only I know what’s coming next (as long as I look at the notes in my diary!).


Vocabulary extension

I love words. I love lots of words. I love words that roll around in your mouth when you say them (squirrel, squish, lisianthus, isthmus, apocalypse). I love words that trigger specific memories (punch-cards, jazz, Christmas, Grandad). I have always had a good vocabulary and I think being an only child for so many of my formative years (I was six when my sister arrived) was a key contributor to that, as most of my interactions were with adults. Of course learning to read, and loving reading, means I am continually extending my vocabulary, and I try to look up the meaning of words I don’t know. [As an aside, this is one of the benefits of an e-reader; it makes it so easy to determine the meaning of an unfamiliar word with a click providing the definition. I never thought I’d ever be saying that there was anything better than a real book, but for learning new words… I have to admit that e-readers have this slight advantage.]

Apart from discoveries through reading, in my daily life I don’t often come across chances to learn a new word, so it was with delight that I realised the sign above Martin Bosley‘s table at the City Market yesterday contained a word I didn’t know.

Martin was persuaded to pose and highlight the word for my photograph. The word is tracklements (ha – the WordPress dictionary doesn’t think it is a word!). Martin told me it has a similar meaning to condiments, but covers a broader range. Here’s a link to the dictionary definition on wiktionary, and another on World Wide Words which provides more information on the origin of the word.

Here are just two of Martin’s tracklements:

I’m so pleased to have learned a new word today!



Tulips from Wellington

Aren’t they gorgeous?!

I stopped to enjoy the tulips and other spring flowers at the Botanical Gardens this morning and took loads of photos too. The thing that strikes me the most as I look at them? The consistent colour in all of them is green! The gardeners had fun creating a vivid green border for another flower bed – can you see what it is?

Today I learned that parsley makes a great edging!