Posts tagged ‘abundance’

new directions

I’ve been having a flare, brought on by filling in the ESA benefit form: telling unsympathetic people how impaired your abilities are nowย  for 20 pages is not good for morale. PIP forms are even harder and should be filled in with the help of a welfare advisor so you tick the right boxes, phrasing can make a big difference!

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Getting over the side effects of withdrawing from Venlafaxine was easier than I expected, probably because I managed to make a good care plan, but also a dollop of good luck ๐Ÿ˜‰

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One of the tactics I used was a new craft project: handsewn patchwork. New…although I have very fond memories of sewing at middle school where a group of us gathered to sew at lunchtime…I used to be able to sew with either hand and can still sew in either direction, though I tend to sew right to left. Perhaps from the Jewish tailors in my grandfather’s family! I like to think so, I’m certainly a lot neater stitching by hand than by machine where art takes over ๐Ÿ˜‰

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I discovered just how relaxing it is to scroll through pages of fabric remnants on eBay, and how much less relaxing it is running through my budget at the end of the month to see if I can pay PA after rent day! EEK! I definitely have a slight problem there… the trouble is none of it is undirected, no buyer’s remorse, I love everything I chose and have projects for it all, I just need to regain my trust that other equally beautiful fabric will be available later… an abundance issue… not helped by that demoralising ESA form, or by friends being very busy, therapist away on training, chiropractor away on a visit etc etc but meanwhile any stress was easiest met by looking at all the lovely fabrics. I had a breakthrough when a search needed me to go via Pinterest and I finally opened an account there. Now I understand why friends find it so therapeutic! I can save all the lovely images there, and NOT on the watch list!

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There is recent research showing looking at beauty in nature or art is very healing/creates a very positive mindset*, so I comforted myself that at least I was filling my mind with lovely ideas, and as long as I actually made/completed things, all would be well – trust the process!

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So finishing my first project has been great, and then having to choose between 3 new projects less so, but getting settled into the next one has been lovely.

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And then yesterday I started seeing lots of possibilities for integrating these very beautiful, very finished fabrics into mixed media collages. They could start with a quilted or patchwork base and then free form out with feathers, beads, my usual ‘more is more’ embellishment approach ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  I’ve always found it very hard to integrate large patches of very finished cloth or paper into my collages, it seems like stealing or relying on other’s skills, appropriationist… but I am starting to see how the art of the quilter is to harness and enhance and balance those different forces, to make a cohesive whole out of those wild horses, pulling in all directions…One of the reasons I have bought so much I suspect is that my stash was of fabrics still too strong for me to tame ๐Ÿ˜‰ It will be much easier to start with florals, paisleys/botehs**ย  and abstract tie-dyes than very stylized/design heavy pieces covered with another artist’s stamp…

Meanwhile Nonie has no problems expressing dominance ๐Ÿ˜‰ I should take notes!

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wear the green willow

Trying to write about this recent piece of work reminds me exactly why l like making with my hands, from materials less slippery than words!

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It started as an idea to make a piece of land art and link it to the 7th anniversary of my husband’s death… but all my confident starts faltered and then extra pain from a slipped collarbone pushed me into a really low space. I’d arranged a lift to a lovely place, Attenborough Water, an area of lakes covering old quarries, and was really looking forward to it simply as a day out. I was at the point of cancelling everything but luckily got a late burst of energy and confidence, took apart many things half done and reassembled them, and finally hit my rhythm again… oh the relief!

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So my photos are good for the details as usual, but I didn’t consider just how harmoniously my biggest chain/garland would blend in, so another time I will do things differently ๐Ÿ˜‰

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The mandala was drawn by Andy and left unfinished, and it was only on Thursday that I coloured it in – he would have made it more rainbowy, but that is part of what l have lost… l have many wonderful friends and make a life full of creativity and colour, but everyone is unique and that special connection is much missed. He was my first ‘safe person’ [for agoraphobia] and helped me go out in the world again, and l have never laughed so much as in those 7 years we had together… so, he gave me wings and the courage to try new things and the happiness to continue in this life after him, not without him…

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so, not green willow weeping after all, but elder, fruitful and comforting, sweetness that stays long after the season…

waste not, want not: dates on food, food on plates 1

Food waste is a huge problem nowadays, all the way through the chain, from animals eating prime proteins to make weaker proteins and ruining rainforest/ prairie/ pampas etcย  while they do it, to the overflowing bins emptied into smelly bin lorries going off to landfills that belch as much methane as the animals at the other end…(stern reminder: POSITIVE, OPTIMISTIC outlook please! adjusts headset and continues ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

If you eat meat, you probably like it and don’t want to change that aspect of your diet, but do be aware there are plenty of reasons and recipes to be meatfree at least once a week! And you’re not a CARNIVORE, you’re an OMNIVORE (eat everything!) unless you’re a vampire (eek! run away!) so the rest of this post might still give you useful tips ๐Ÿ˜‰

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General waste: there is so much an average person can do to streamline their buying/ eating/ waste management, from loose to detailed planning of meals for the week, pantry inventory (sharpen a pencil or fire up your psion spread sheets, all welcome here!) home production of herbs, the wonderfoods known as sprouts, fruit and veg grown in containers or mixed in your borders, cottage style, and your own compost (which if you follow my instructions will NOT smell ๐Ÿ˜‰

I grew up in a family where pantry inventory was taken for granted, it was a 20 minute round trip to the corner shop and an hour to the town centre and back, so keeping an eye on levels was automatic for my mother. The women on both sides of my family were good cooks and on my father’s side were in catering, so I took in a lot of information I now realise I am very lucky to have – which I am really pleased to share with you too ๐Ÿ˜‰

WHICH BEST BEFORE DATES MATTER:

MEAT, FISH, AND ALL PRODUCTS CONTAINING THEM unless it has been smoked or salted or dehydrated. Basically if it has been preserved using a method an in-tune indigenous/First Nationer would use, it’ll be fine. Freezing is fine, if you are sure the meat has never gone above -7, you can go past the date, the flavour will just be a bit less, but make sure you are cooking it in a stew and boil it thoroughly. Last dead flesh advice! Apart from, avoid it, it’s the biggest risk for bringing food poisoning into your home, there’s a reason for kosher rules/halal etc, they’re about staying alive in a hot climate when eating high risk items…meat attracts flies and flies spread germs, I put my cat’s dish in the fridge between feeds in the summer and still get flies, a problem I’ve never had before, grrr, something about the evergreen forest out the kitchen window…

DAIRY AND EGGS

EGGS If you’re not sure, salt and water test: mix 2 tablespoons of salt in a pint of COLD water and gently place the egg in, the further it sinks, the better, if it FLOATS, discard it, it’s old and potentially growing salmonella, yuck…

CHEESE/YOGHURT/MILK smell test first: if milk smells sickly, it will make you sick, pour it down the outside drain/toilet and you’ll likely see curds (gag). If cheese or yoghurt have pink or green on them, eek! PINK will make you ill, chuck it now, preferably in a sealed nappy bag! BLUE/GREEN this should be a flow chart! is it stilton or gorgonzola? enjoy! (but far away from me, heave…) is it cheap cheddar? cut the white and blue off and use the rest in something TODAY where it is baked or boiled – eg macaroni cheese. Is it dark green/blue? Out now…

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When food dates came in, people were expected to still know how to use their own senses to check for signs of danger. With compensation culture, the dates are being made shorter and shorter until some common sense is beginning to rebel at the mountain of waste made by people who don’t know any better and sling the lot.

Try not to use perfume or smoke before you cook or gather ingredients, smell is your best friend for fresh or chilled food – of it smells wrong, it probably is, eg if it smells of fish (but isn’t!) it has a particular bacteria whose name I forget, but you don’t want inside you, take my word for it, please!

Wash fresh fruit and veg slowly (it’s enjoyable, honest!) and you will spot bruised or infested areas – eg butterfly eggs on cabbage leaves, those grubs that like berries will float out upside down and you can put them all in the compost bin where they are your friends!

CANNED/ JARRED FOODS:

these are the ones where the dates are normally a nonsense….

Anything preserved in a pint of vinegar is going to keep 5 years, maybe 10. It may lose some texture or be less tasty, but it isn’t going to hurt you. Make stew/ broth/ casserole and enjoy the tang! It will make your stew keep on top of the stove without refrigeration for five days unless you live in a sauna.

Anything stored in vegetable oil is going to keep a long time, eg garlic, olives, ginger etc. Again, it may lose a little flavour or texture, so check it and adjust amounts, but it is unlikely to hurt you, but if it smells the least bit fishy, out, otherwise, in that stewpot ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anything stored in brine (salty water) is going to be ok for ages past the date most companies give it, though it may go a bit soft. Sluice the beans/sweetcorn /whatever and then stand in cold water over night, drain and use in a boiled soup/stew.

Anything preserved in enough sugar is going to keep for 3 to 20 years.What is enough? Anything marked low sugar is NOT enough, unless it has vinegar or salt in it too, eg fruit compote might have raspberry vinegar in. Jam can keep for several years, if it has no mould, it’s fine. If homemade jam has mould on the top wafer, the waxed circle was put in upside down, the jars were not sterilised, or air got in. Mostly, you can scrape it out, pour the good jam into a bowl and test it by taste. You can now make wine from it ๐Ÿ˜‰ or make an old fashioned steam pudding or make a fruit cake by the boiling method, or add the jam instead of sugar to a cake and bake it, make jammy tarts, porridge, dodgers…or a glaze for nut roast…lots of things as long as it involves heating the jam till it bubbles.

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DRIED FOODS

Um, this may seem obvious, but I’ll say it, as a young friend genuinely didn’t know: sugar and salt cannot ‘go off’. Honey maybe just might after several years if there was a lot of comb left in, but dried sugar, kept dry, will last to feed the post apocalypse roaches. Salt can get wet and dry again and be ok, er particularly if is is sea salt ๐Ÿ˜‰ Sugar and salt are the mainstays of food preservation without big equipment, eg de-hydrators, freezers, and the move to low sugar and low salt foods instead of portion control has made for some odd dilemmas and waste problems.

First Nations people around the world (including europeans!) found out very fast that coating things in honey kept them really well, and that sweet enough fruit pounded into bison or deer/elk etc with lard, made pemmican, a dried meat that kept forย  a few months, saving the chore of daily hunting in hardscrabble springs.

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Fruit/ herbal teas – if it looks and smells ok, it is!

Dried fruit will keep years beyond the bb4date, if it looks ok, it is ok. If it looks a bit dry (currants do this a lot)ย  soak the fruit in an appropriate fruit tea for 10minutes before cooking, eg apple rings, soak in raspberry tea and bake in a victoria sponge, oh, nom, currants/sultanasย  in darjeeling/any brown/black tea or bilberry/elderberry, ever since I learnt to make Irish brack cake I do this anyway, fruit cakes and breads should be juicy not chewy…

Dried vegetables and de-hydrated vegetables (different processes) will keep a long way past the bb4 dates. Again, if it looks ok, it is ok. Beans and pulses are great proteins and therefore attract critturs, even more if they are organic, so keep them in plastic-ware or better yet jars or old biscuit tins. Plastic can be a problem in humid spaces or Edinburgh tenement flats (hiya Em! waves!!) If in any doubt, pour the rice/ wheat/ beans/ broth mix into a mixing bowl and stir. If anything looks nibbled, examine it and if necessary, sling it – mice droppings will give you nasty illnesses, so anything chewed needs to go out, and scrub your pantry and create better storage, set traps, get a cat etc ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  Cats were revered in Egypt because they kept the granaries – the wealth of the Pharaohs – safe ๐Ÿ™‚

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Anything with enough ascorbic acid will keep a way past the date. Basically it’s vitamin C, but I just found out the name translates from Latin as no-scurvy…cool! Scurvy is vitamin deficiency that long distance sailors used to get if they didn’t take barrels of pickled limes with them – preserving saves lives, not just jams! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Sorry, I used to be a professional jam maker and still get very annoyed when people dismiss jam as a luxury confection, not a lifesaving food that gave people the strength to farm in the hungry gap of maximum tilling and sowing, and minimum fresh and stored food available.ย But I digress ๐Ÿ˜‰

Ascorbic acid is used loads in flours and food mixes, vacuum packed tortillas etc and it keeps them fresh and tends to see off the flour weevils – people still throw flour out a day over the date because it USED to get weevils…it can still, if it is organic/ super rustic, but it’s always worth checking. Openย  the packet, and pour it through a sieve into a mixing bowl. It may have clumped with age, but if nothing’s wriggling, it’s ok! It may have lost its mojo, so add a bit of baking powder, half what the recipe calls for, and all will be well ๐Ÿ˜‰

However if anything with flour in MAY have got wet or worse, been kept in a damp place, chuck it. It will have the wrong moulds in and you can get nasty fatigue conditions etc from it, so if the paper looks stained, out with it. Another digression – use anti-bax on your showerhead every couple of months for the same reasonย  http://www.nhs.uk/news/2009/09September/Pages/Showerheadsandlungdisease.aspx

In the next installment I’ll explain good storage, good cleaning/ hygiene and give some handy use it up recipes ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Meanwhile a link back to the perfect anti-waste foods: sprouted alfalfa seeds are amazing, I place my excellent vitamin and mineral levels (the doctor was politely surprised ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) on their shoulders, and anyone with fatigue issues who got this far, they are so EASY!!! better than salad and no chopping/messing, oh joy!

https://singingbirdartist.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/waste-not-want-not-1-sprouting-seeds-growing-potatoes/

overflowing abundance!

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—-I went to the parcel office yesterday to collect a parcel I missed last week – but it was two! And on Wednesday PoetrySue was able to come over at last, she has been much missed the last 6/7 weeks, so pleased she is better after her slide and sticky visit toย  A&E…but between the three of them I got such lovely presents! The print is by S.Patel, of Sita and the deer, and reminds me of a meditation I had where Lakshmi showered me with gold sequins and laughter, the (commercial) handmade paper is perfect for a project I am just starting, the Pam Sussmann book is great inspiration for the handmade books, the box made by my friend in Cornwall is lovely…and another two friends have just sent presents…funny, I felt quite happy with what I got on my birthday, so this feels like the universe surprising me with abundance and reminding me how rich my life is…and there was lots more in those parcels too, the yarn for the socks, truffle making ingredients, a beautiful pashmina in red, dark and light olive greens and black, mmmm…a book to tear pages out of (from an ex-librarian! You’ve come a long way baby ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) some smellies and flower seeds…a knitter’s brooch…and lovely Eleanor at KnitNottingham gave me some yarn leftovers to pass to the streetplay project and vintage patterns to go to the reminiscence project at the old people’s home a friend works at, and chucked in some felty goodness for me!

And Abel and Cole organic veg boxes are sending me a bottle ofย  cold pressed extra virgin olive oil as a joining gift (I thought the free book was my gift?!?) and gave me ยฃ5 off Ecover cleaning products

And Marisota put the boots and Joe Brown top I wanted on sale…

And it’s sunny!

Wow…time to lie down in a dark room!

Tuesday I was worried because my freezer needs the door seal changing and the landline is unfixable, but today…who cares?! I have all this and am being taken out for lunch tomorrow by another friend I haven’t seen for a while…

Sometimes life really does shower goodness…I’m really aware of people I know who are having a hard time right now, and previously I would hold back on being this noisy about my good luck and abundance, but one of the things I have been thinking about is how we can store happiness…we can’t, but if we enjoy it to the full when it is our turn, it helps when the wheel turns again and someone else is having the good luck and the bad luck is raining on our side of the street…holding back helps nothing, and is probably bad for our health, all that brain and body chemistry, adrenalin and cortisone and whatnot…I can’t remember who used the phrase living out loud, but for me, it links to the Marianne Williamson quote Nelson Mandela used in his inauguration speech, who are we not to be…

http://skdesigns.com/internet/articles/quotes/williamson/our_deepest_fear/

and I would include fortunate in with the other qualities…

So much gratitude here, with candles lighted for anyone and everyone who is on the other side of the wheel right now…

update: the guy in the flat downstairs not just fitted the new doorseal on the freezer, he figured out the slope in the floor was generating the problem, put a wedge in the back and lengthened the legs at the front and made it all work again, all for a pint! I gave him one of Andy’s CDs as well, and he will get some of the next batch of baked goodness ๐Ÿ˜‰