Saturday, 16 November 2013

The lovely ginger and orange cake.

There once was a ginger and orange cake. 
That came out of the oven all warm.
It stood on it's stand and looked so very grand.
Gosh, it didn't last more than it took to make! 

Okay, where's my Booker Prize?
Tuesday, 12 March 2013

When politics attacks.....the right to breed and other things.

Here's a little update from me:

Number of square knitted = 5
Number of words of novel written = 3934
Number of courses started = 1
Number of jobs volunteered for = 1
Number of cakes eaten = 1

So, my blanket is erm...still in development. Think of it as the Serenity sequel, it's much loved but not quite in production. Likewise, my novel has had some words added to it, but I'm so unfocused with it. I'm liking the story though, but it's unfolding as I write, I haven't got a plan as such.

I started my Open University course, which has eaten in to my daily time, as will my impending 6 hours a week at the CAB.

Life as mum is becoming a little more understood by me, although my plans to go to a childminder are temporarily on hold as there has been a bereavement, another reminder of how short life is and how we should direct ourselves towards what moves us rather than just the mundane.

I'm incredibly lucky to have this time with my daughter but what it has highlighted to me is the way in which, as a society, we treat child rearing and how judgemental we are towards others. It is also interesting to see how our basic internal fairness button is being manipulated by politics.

The rhetoric of the scrounger or the feckless or the undeserving poor is not new, but during the recent recession it is prevalent not only in politics but in the media and on the lips of many. In times of contraction there's less, so what's available to us all is scrutinised as we all fight that basic urge of not being left with the least amount of potatoes on the plate. The plight of the disabled on disability allowance and other benefits has affected me hugely, I have always felt that part of what made Britain great was an inbuilt fairness (oh how my step-dad would laugh at me for that). That those who are truly unable would be looked after by the state is something I've always believed to be right. Personally, I have never felt annoyed by paying tax, I've not always agreed with how the government has spent my money or they way in which they have arranged their finances but the principle of tax is sound to me, I live in a society, society needs certain basic needs met, I pay for those with taxes. Sign me up.

The way in which the coalition has chosen to look at the welfare costs in the country and the way in which it has played its cards has truly astounded me. It is not so much the fact that the Tories would hide behind the spin of benefits being out of control or that some people are lazy, it's the fact that the liberal democrats have said nothing whilst they've gotten on with it. They let them get away with spinning the lie that the way to fix the deficit would be to focus on welfare.

Now let me get this straight, I strongly dislike fraudsters. Cowardly arsehats. As a nation we can not stand the unfairness of it. We stand in queues nicely, we are polite, we do not grumble at the rain and in turn we expect everyone else to behave in the same way. They don't of course, but that's humanity. It does not and should not mean that this feeling should be directed towards the vulnerable, that the fact that a small percentage of people claim incorrectly should not mean that we close our ears to the reaction of those having to go through the work capacity assessment.

I am certain that their are some people currently on disability benefits that would love to work and with support in travelling to work, or at work, or flexibility in work patterns would be able to change from these benefits to part and part. However, that should not mean that all people are tested in one way, using one set of questions, by a non specialist in that particular person's illness. It is abhorrent to me those with mental illness are not dealt with differently. It is baffling to me why a medical reports from specialists are being ignored.

All for the sake of some bad apples, a whole section of society now feels shunned, overlooked and persecuted. I strongly reject the way in which this has been handled. Basically, to me it really does seem to be a matter of principle for the Tories, rather than economics and they have twisted and manipulated and fanned the flames of jealousy and fear to push these changed through.

This takes me back to another section of society that have always been judged. Mothers. The choice of when to have a baby, probably the biggest choice a woman ever makes. I really wish that as a society we understand that if we are to continue being a country that it's our babies that will take it forward. If we do not support this activity over and above huge profits then our communities cease to exist. Now, I know that not all woman want children, top choice. I know many others that want to and can not or have effectively chosen not to due to economics you may say so what, this has always been the case. I also know many who have chosen to have children without finances or relationships being solid and they are vilified.

Society places a judgemental barrier to this activity, it says you can only do this are in a committed relationship, you have savings or the wage so that you do not rely on the state, like it's something not connected to our biology and psyche. However, if there is one activity that SHOULD be supported by government it should be child rearing. It should be respected. But it isn't and we treat some mothers with disdain, we watch them struggle (for it was never intended to be a two person job let along a one person job) and then we say it's their punishment for not doing it the way in which society says.

Instead of guns, armies and nuclear submarines we should be spending money on supporting any woman, married or not, financially able or not, to raise a child. Radical much? You betcha. Not so much a Dad's Army as a Mother's.

With all of that off my chest I feel a little lighter. I'm not sure if you feel any better though! I apologise for the rant. I've been delving into the local politics of Torfaen and it's a little heartbreaking.

Wish me luck in changing that!

K x

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Political Offshoots!

So, off the back of my previous post I've decided to start up a new blog. I'll post the link a little later on.

The Ponty project, as it's now know in my head is proving very interesting. I've featured one local group already and I've started a petition too. I've also had my first actual conversation with a Council person, which was interesting. There seems like there is a lot to do! I could quite easily be the Pontypool Journalist, if only someone would pay me!

I can't wait to see where this goes! I've already been invited out to visit an Owl's egg in a nesting box and to a meet and greet. A local charity is delivering me veg tomorrow and they've given me LOADS of names of other local people doing awesome stuff for me to contact! Plus the council has directed me to a newly forming Town group so we shall see!

I've also started a petition to see if we can get movement on the state of the local shop fronts! I'm hoping some lovely art might come out of this!

My partner did a quick sketch for me as an idea for the boarded up willie window! I'd love to see this in town.

Shop Fronts Are Us!

Like I said, I'm creating more work for myself being at home than anything else!

Oh....and I've only knitted five squares, but I HAVE written 3900 words of the book! Plus the child will be one on Saturday and she WALKED TODAY!


Best wishes
Kay x
Thursday, 28 February 2013

Where their once stood an oak tree, there now sits an acorn.

Local politics. I'm not sure there's a more interesting way of saying that. Before I blog regarding mental health I thought I would introduce you all to the ball of string that is Welsh local politics. I know, to most politics is a dull and boring subject, left to the seekers of power, or the very vocal minority.

I'll place my own position for you so there's no disguise, I'm left of centre. I would have said I was a natural Liberal Democrats voter, but I can't bring myself to say that anymore. You could probably say I'm naive enough to still believe that negative situations can be changed with hard work into positive ones, but I'm struggling to see the wood from coed at the moment.

Pontypool used to be a successful, by all accounts, vibrant town that had a large permanent market and a huge local park for the residents use. A central and important train station, a history of pottery, and the ubiquitous mining nearby. Fast forward to 2013 and the town centre and market are lacklustre and the area is designated as deprived.

The reasons behind this are many. Cwmbran was built as a New Town. It has all the big commercial players, it's designed to make shopping easy if not interesting. The train station is now on the edge of town, a good mile and a half away. A supermarket has entered the town centre which has placed pressure on the local shops. Larger named bands won't relocate into the empty shops here as Cwmbran is ten minuets drive away. The rugby club, positioned in the park is no longer as successful as it was driving away the tens of thousands that would have passed through the town in the past when games were on. The industry that was once here has long since closed/relocated/gone under. A story not unfamiliar to many, many towns. So, what's the answer?

Interestingly, the County Council have their offices in the town, there is also a Community Council which was established in 2006. I immediately visited both websites for these parties and was struck that the Council website was not really very current, the blog set up in 2006 had not been updated since. The County Council's communications were better but not brilliant, their free paper doesn't even reach my door and I'm ten minuets walk away from their offices. I'm unsure if the fact that the County Council is here is clouding the issue, the more I ponder it the more I'm convinced it has but poor old Ponty is suffering from a complete lack of identity and function.

You only need to look at the online communities set up my local people to see the general unhappiness. A lot of people talk of the Council, without directing their annoyance to the correct place. To be fair, the Community Council is in some sort of enforced hiding or that's how it appears. You see, a few years back, Pontypool won approximately £13 million pounds in grants for regeneration. As far as I can tell, most of this money has not been spent yet. I know the centre has been re-cobbled, there are some general "art" installations, the market is due a refurbishment in May, but given that it's half empty and that future rents will be more than current I can't see how it might work economically. This is the reason that the general local population are hopping mad. The general upkeep of the town is bad, there are rundown shop fronts, graffiti of willies on the boards, the green areas in town and unplanted, unkept and rubbish is everywhere.

There's more administration in this town than anything else and I'm not sure what the answer is. I'm pretty sure it's not what's happening right now. To me, it's like there's a void. The two Councils have some sort of plan, I've read the paper, but it's vague on how they will get business booming again, it appears they think that it will just appear if they "regen", but that's not the case. Unless there is care taken on an ongoing basis then the town will not look cared for, it's not the big money spends that can make the difference it's the local, small and independent ideas that will change the environment. It also has to be said that the general whining and harking back to the past will not enliven the now. Personally I have some thoughts, I'm not convinced a town with two/three supermarkets can support a 7 day a week independent market. That might be unpopular, but I know of no other town that has one. I'm sure that the town needs a Community space, like a town hall/market area at the weekends. Check out Frome's Cheese and Grain development as an inspiration. There are no restaurants in town, not one, with no other entertainment than a Weatherspoons. There are no bands that play here, no theatre, no films, nothing. A town does not prosper by day alone. What is more surprising is a park that offers hectares of grounds, with a large leisure centre and a dry ski slope! It has a bandstand (that no one uses) and nothing happens in it. Nothing. No festivals in the summer, the only local event I can find is the annual fireworks display which just proves that Pontypool can hold in it more than ten people at a time. I tried to find the local group that takes care of the park, their website was down.

As you can tell, I have a lot to say on the subject and this post is mostly an outpouring of my current view of the town. Part two will be my ideas for the future, what could be done and the positives and initiatives I can see already taking place. I will update this post with appropriate photos as and when. If you have any ideas on how to regenerate a failing town or any of your own experiences then please feel free to share them!

A Month in One Day!

I have to make an apology, I promised myself I would post religiously on my blog. For some reason February became as slippery as an eel and it escaped me. The first half of this month was taken up with the "blanket project", or my first knitting project as its is now known. Learning is a funny thing, you have to produce something to understand the mistakes you've made. There's probably a proverb in there, in Chinese, somewhere. I'm quite pleased with the little blanket but there are a few things I have learnt:

1) knitting takes ages
2) knitting with the wrong yarn for the pattern takes even longer
3) don't drink cava and knit

The blanket is one third of the size of the pattern. I wanted to attempt the edging which seemed impossibly fancy and the yarn was wrong, the colour was wrong and I'd made so many small mistakes I wasn't worried with producing the pattern verbatim. However, making it this small has given in an idea of sort for a "boo blanket".

What the blanket also told me was that you would have to be a super quick knitter to make a business out of selling them. Or, you would have a pay yourself peanuts. I'm pondering whether a knitting machine could be an answer but it would take away from the magic of the pieces I think. So for the time being my lovely blanket stall is on the back burner. Not to mention the stalls in the market post refurbishment will be too expensive, but most on that in a later post.

I then searched for patterns that were quick, I found and completed the following headband which I love! I need a button to finish it, but it took no time at all! It's possible that extreme knitting is the way forward! I'm now attempting a blanket made of squares and I can see it taking me at least a month, I've decided this proves how much time I am spending with my child which is copious!

Lots of food blogs to catch up on including the fabulous valentines chocolate cake!

Much love xxx

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

It's the end of the world as we know it!

Good evening fair folk of blogshire.

I've been getting that feeling of being a little unfocused, like a fuzzy wool. So, I thought, what better way to refocus than to look back on January, as it's the first month that I have blogged consistently! That might not seem like much of achievement, but I feel like it is!

Fancy Scarf
I've made three scarfs, the last of which I quite like (photo to the left, to the left), so my craftiness is underway! I have a bunting to make, a baby blanket, a crochet headband and a pretty baby headband to source and complete. I've started to research the local market and my head is full of ideas of stocking good quality and slightly quirky baby blankets, hats, Welsh cakes and cardamon buns. 

The problem with my mind is that it's too easily sidetracked and I end up with that unfocused and guilty feeling that I might have just been sat down doing very little, spending rather than earning. One of my projects makes me feel very much this way; the novel I'm writing (or not as the case may be). I've joined a site called Authonomy (link below), it's basically for all the lovely people trying to write, but to even discuss your book you have to have written 10,000 words....needless to say I haven't written anywhere near that!

So, in February I have decided to try and write as much as I can! This is going to be hard as I can't take my eyes off of my lovely daughter for more than 20 seconds at a time or she eats cardboard.

I've also written about the yummy food we've made in the house and I've realised how far behind some of the lovely bloggers out there we are in our little house. Which is fine, it's a learning curve and half the fun is seeing how much you've achieved. There are some utterly stunning photo work out there, very much inspired! I hope to improve!

The second thing I'd like to do is upgrade my blog visually a little. It needs a few tweeks about the edges and fancinesses. Hopefully over the months it will begin to look more and more professional, or erm, like I know a little bit about it!

Things of note:

1. I made some things.
2. My baby now dances (mostly to fast beat music, weirdo). 
3. I'm reconnecting with friends that I haven't spoken to in ages.
4. I recognise I am NOT a natural sales person (my poor Jamie @ Home manager).

Get Published

 Isn't it strange when you "give up" work you seem to have too much to do in the time you now have "free"?

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Ben's Cookie's Ben's Cookies Oh! - where for art thou...

If you're like us, there may be a spot of white stuff about your house! It's all rather impressive here in the Welsh Valleys. It looks a little like some far away land of ice.

To combat the rising houseboundness and the lack of Ben's Cookies in Pontypool (oh the PAIN), the boy made Cookies! They were SO good that I ate them all. In one go. I never do that. Nope.....never ever.....

He used the following old school recipe but replaced the margarine with butter. The cookies were served HOT with the chocolate bits still melty.

They were totally nom and then they were totally gone.

Back to Ben's Cookies - for anyone who does not know of this lovely business the website is linked below. Before I visited them I'd never really had a thing for cookies....

OMG They Deliver!

I'd love to open a franchise in Pontypool....HINT! But I'd probably be the size of a house by the end of the first month.

And to end this midweek blog a bit of fun from the Council....yes, you read that right. LOCAL COUNCIL IN FUNNY LINK SHOCKER!

Peace out DUDES!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Sunday Roundup!

Well, here we are again, at the end of another week. I'm really not sure where the time goes. It's been an interesting one, with the beginning of my crafting and the partner's Uni work hand ins!

I went shopping before the snow hit in Pontypool. This in itself is an interesting concept, as there are very few "shops" in Pontypool that one might actually want to shop in. The line-up includes Greggs and Brighthouse, the latter I've never seen before living here.

There is however a market struggling along in Ponty. I try, where I can, to support it's occupants - so here's a shout-out to the couple who run Pontypool's Sewing and Knitting Center. I appreciate it's not the most original of names...but there's wool and needles and cotton.

I proceeded to buy a pattern far too complicated for myself at the moment and it's apparently written in some form of crafting language I have yet to decipher. Here is the little devil below.

So I gave up on that and decided to start from the beginning and ask the all knowing brain (internet) for help. And low and behold it was helpful. Although I used the wrong wool/yarn for the pattern and although I used the wrong sized crochet hook I still managed to produce a scarf for my daughter.

I'm not sure my currently speed of crocheting could possibly result in a lucrative business just yet! I definitely need to get quicker and neater and more technical for that! However, it was fun and I've already had one friend request a scarf for themselves.

I've also taken the opportunity to think about my novel, after retrieving the first chapter I had "hidden" (which is code for deleted) from myself from my best mate from school, a Ms Page. I've been pointed to a site called Authonomy so I'm going to re-read, redo and add to what I've already done and post it there for constructive criticism (code for emotional pillaging).

But....before I go and wish you all a lovely week ahead I thought I'd leave you with a paragraph or two!

"Thank god I was sat down 'cause I think my Mum just gave me two hundred and fifty thousand pounds. Now, if I believed in karma then I must have done something right. I was stunned, overjoyed and I started to laugh but I didn't really believe in karma at all, nice people had shit throw at them all the time. I stopped laughing. I now felt slightly guilty and also like someone was playing a big fat joke on me and I had no idea why."
"I had no idea what to do with this new found luck, but I was now totally in the mood for a night out on the town. But you know what they say about luck, something about the only thing about it is that it will change? Well, lucky for me I didn't know then what I knew now, or I may never had made the decisions that changed my life for good."

They say fortune favours the brave...wish me luck my lovelies!


Something to warm your soul!

Hello? Are you all covered in snow? I hope you're all doing well. I thought given the weather that something yummy and warming would be the order of the day, it's a bit late due to the babes teething like a pro, she's currently more drool than baby.

So, I present to you......the Chocolate and Coffee Cake, ta da!

It's not dressed as such as we had no icing or coffee beans, but my it was lovely! It was baked using Jamie's 9 inch cake tin (£12.50) and it's sitting on a lovely cooling rack (£17.50) from his range, both performed really well according to the lovely man and baker of the house! The cooling rack is very sturdy and comes in a pack of two! If you're interested then let me know and I can send one out to you!

Here's the lowdown on how to get your own cake:

175g Butter
175g caster sugar
150g flour (plain)
25g Cocoa powder
1 tbsp water mixed with 1 tsp instant coffee
3 eggs

Cream butter and sugar together until, well, creamy. Add the eggs and the coffee and mix. Then sieve in the flour and cocoa and mix again.

Bake in the oven at 180c for 20-25mins.

All you need to do is make a cup of tea, get under a blanket, put on your favourite TV aaaaaannndddd....relax.

Friday, 11 January 2013

An Ode to my Shoes

Dear Shoes....

I feel the need to apologise,
for my lack of bipedal support,
You are fancy and shiny and you really should,
be dancing not dead behind doors.

(written with pen bought by my friend Chris).

"What, you don't like rice? How could a billion Chinese people be wrong? my Jamie @ Home box arrived. Exciting times! However, tempered slightly by a report from a friend that they had reservations on quality. With this in mind, I decided to be sure I was happy with what I had been sent, I'll be doing this by testing the goods!

This brings me to my first choice to blog about, it was actually a really easy decision (although sadly not bacon as I promised someone). I have a friend, I've known her since University. She's a lovely, gorgeous, creative mother of one. She also happens to be half-Burmese. I once went to visit her at her family's home in Surrey and her father, he's the Burmese one, cooked us a meal. I can not stress the impact his cooking had on my liking of Oriental food; I was already obsessed with Chinese food, you can ask anyone!

The thing that struck me most was that he cooked his rice in the oven in a pot. I was fascinated, having been bought up on pan on hob and the occasional starchy mess that this can result in I was astounded to see fluffy rice emerge from an oven.

He proceeded to tell me it was the proper way to cook rice and given that his meal was by far the best I've tasted in terms of Oriental cooking, I have to defer to his superior knowledge. So, when I saw the following it was obvious what I was going to try first!

Please excuse the celeriac at the back.......

This, if you didn't know, is a rice pot! Lunch was mine for the taking! I followed the instructions below and then added a sauce at the end which I'll run through with you.

It was quick and simple, I used a herb infused stock pot, but that part is purely your choice. And the result was quick yummy! Full disclosure time, it was slightly underdone, now, that could be because I didn't wait for the oven to reach full temp (and I've cleaned off the temp control numbers so I don't ever know what temp the oven is...yeah, I know, well done). I will report back again when I've had another try.  But the rice looked lovely and fluffy and I quite like it with a slight bite so....

To the sauce! I added a raw egg, spring onions, sweet chilli sauce, soya sauce, Chinese five spice and the juice of one lime. I just stirred it in at the end straight into the rice pot, no messing. Also, I've yet to wash it up, so I can't say if it's better or worse than a normal pan just yet.

Yum. As they say in the's the science bit:

This is on my list to purchase for myself! Feel free to go to my site Shameless Plug if you fancy one yourself.

But in the meantime, I'd like to thank Sylvia's dad for introducing me to the concept and making me yummy food, and to Sylvia herself for being my lovely friend ;). More on the lovely Sylvia, Burma, Child Sponsorship and her creative endeavors at a later point!

Monday, 7 January 2013

You can take my freedom...but you can never take my pasty

They tried to tax these little beauties, but there was descent amongst the ranks and they survived. Pasties, the food of the farmer and the working man. Hold one in your hand to become a citizen with a capital C.

A meal in your a much better way than the burger ('cause there's loads of veg in it and stop sniggering at the back).

So, here's one boy made earlier:

This particular beauty is lamb and mint. Recipe as follows:

Wednesday, 2 January 2013


Individual style. We all want it, few of us achieve it. So closely linked with our own sense of purpose and self confidence. I've never expressed myself - not even as a teenager. Never had a "look". Occasionally I've looked accident, I don't even know how to put on make up! When I split from my husband I went to live with a friend who knows exactly what I mean by the above. She herself is on a mission (much more successful than mine) to develop a sense of style.

You can follow her here if you like all things vintage.

I was starting to sort through my thoughts as to who I was/what I wanted to look like and then, very suddenly, got pregnant! I'm now, just, nearly one year on about to re-embark with this journey. Pinterest was my friend and I'd started to buy a few bits here and there. I'd made a list of my favourite looks but not really made one whole look up with make-up/hair included. One of my looks that I love (on others, not completed it on myself yet) is the 40s look. I have one dress from the wonderful Vivieen of Holloway, which I've attached here. I plan to make up my looks and dress with hair and make up and post here. Wish me luck!


Crumbles...what can you say about them? For years I was an odd eater. Some might say I still am now. However, the obsession with crumbles came after a conversation with boy (how the other half is known). It went along the line of "how the hell do I make a crumble"...response from boy was "it's bloody easy you lazy woman". I proceeded to go out and shop for crumble bits, bought a bottle of wine to go with it (as you do). Got home, dumped bits in kitchen, opened wine drunk. Some time after this (months) I finally make a crumble. This is not that crumble. But it IS one of ours. So far my faves are berry crumbles. I still can't get the apple ones to go squishy enough). Great tip - put a hard cheese in the pastry part and pepper. Gives it a kick!
Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy New Year

So, here we are! 2013 here's to it being everything everyone wants and needs!

Just wanted to update my blog with my latest thoughts. I'm thinking of selling Jamie Oliver cookware and I'm in the middle of designing a logo for my children's clothing designs. The Jamie Oliver cookware will be used on this blog mostly! My partner, amongst other things, likes to bake. A lot.

One thing his medication has done has changed the way his body processes food and as a result of this and his current lack of martial arts training he's put on about 4 stone we think.

Whilst he wants to loose this weight he also wants to bake. My answer is to allow him to create and we can advertise the food here to you all! If only there was smello- vision you could all take part a bit more. They'll be a mixture of food for you all to see. I'll post up the recipes and maybe sell a few pots and pans along the way. Here's just one lovely example of his brilliance:

The children's clothes are really a second thought from my following a couple of other bloggers and admiring their style and content. Also, on New Year's Eve I received a tweet from a friend which linked me to the following:

 6 Harsh Truths

There's a part in the article that talks about how for successful people work is who they are. This thought along with the blogs I've seen and admire bought me to the conclusion that perhaps I should not focus on one thing, but all the things that I am and I can make a living partly through that. So this blog will be eclectic and varied and may not always flow but it will be me!

It also talks about how you can only earn money from things that you know that other people don't and that they need. I'm half sold on this, bartering is always how the human race has gotten along but the article says it matters not if you are kind, but being "kind" is the way in which we get along. Those who are kind can help people see their best points and they are invaluable in society. They show us the best in ourselves and lead us to make decisions that are not completely selfish.

Signing off for now as my little one has awoken slightly frightened and in need of a cuddle!

Good luck for the year! xxx