Sunday, 31 October 2010

"Halloween"

Halloween is a fact of life. It’s not going anywhere, whether you like it or not. It can strike fear into parents of over enthusiastic children who like to ‘get creative’ with their costumes a couple of days before the night of a party, and then next year demand that they host their own festivities.
It can also divide people in a split second. There are a lot of debates around Halloween, some of which I have already seen get really quite nasty. (Seriously guys, you don’t agree with it, we get it, no reason to start calling people devil worshippers and bad parent. Come back to earth.)
What do I think about it? Well, let me tell you.

I was brought up in a Methodist household. I attended Sunday school, which was where I first learnt a very loose idea of what Halloween was all about. It was referred to as All Saints eve and we would decorate Autumnal pictures, dress up pumpkins and light candles to remember those who had passed on in a special remembrance service. Then at middle school as it was a C of E we were taught about what All Saints was, a celebration of all the saints in the Christian/Catholic church and how it had become a time to remember all dead as well as all saints. My school had the right idea here, as we were taught how it was celebrated all over the world and why. This only lasted for a maximum over two days but for a C of E school it was an exciting time for pupils, Something different!

The idea of Trick or Treating however was a different story. Both at school and at home it was classed as begging, and my parents would never ever even entertain the idea of dressing up. They have since relaxed and even buy sweets for the Trick or Treaters now. I am firmly of the opinion that they were just saying that to get out of the hassle of letting my brother and I celebrate it. I even said that to my mum today and she asked ‘Wouldn’t you do the same?’ My mother and I have a lot of very different ideas in life.

Then as I grew up my circle of friends grew and I was introduced to Paganism and Druidism. For years I celebrated Halloween as Samhain, The Celtic new year. It was the end of the light half of the year and the start of the dark half.

DSCN2416

To me, it meant a day out at Avebury with friends, Bringing with us loaves of specially made bread and cakes. We celebrated the last of the harvest, and the beginning of the new year. A time of great reflection and planning for the year ahead. We would have ribbons representing wishes for the coming year, and tie them to a specific tree along with hundreds of others, some ribbons hanging for years, clinging on for dear life. We weren’t really ones to join in with the chanting rituals, or group cleansing, or even wearing robes. We were happy sat in nice comfy warm clothes on a blanket somewhere sheltered from the wind (and usually rain) knitting and discussing affairs and our plans, lighting candles in crooks in the stones and keeping curious sheep away from our food. Some people, like you find in every religion, were complete nut jobs though. Safer for us to stick together and to ourselves. We did however join in the walk down the Avenue and into the stone circle, an impressive sight for bystanders. Actual new years day was November 1st. That was a day of mass cleaning and restocking cupboards. I suppose the ‘witchy-est’ tradition my friends and I had, would be the restocking of all the complimentary/herbal remedies. We knew people who would refer to themselves as ‘Green Witches’. To be honest with you, if they want to call themselves that, great, I couldn’t care less, but I just saw it as knowing how to use natural resources. For example, Manuka Honey. If you haven’t experienced the awesomeness that is Manuka Honey, you really are missing out. I am not saying however that you should shun modern medicine. Modern medicine progressed for the better for our benefit and I shudder when I hear people say that they will only ever use natural therapies on their children. That’s all I’m going to say on that. We would make our own bath soaps too, as well as the beeswax polish for housework. This had nothing to do with anything spiritual and that it was the first day of the new year so would make everything we did ‘Super good’, It was just a tradition.

And so today. I am not a Pagan or a Druid, but I believe in celebrating the lives of those passed on, I believe that it is the start of winter so the knitting/crochet/sewing needs to be stepped up a gear, I believe in having a feast to celebrate the end of the harvest season and I also believe that it is a fantastic excuse to have a get together and creates wonderful crafty times for children. When it comes to Trick or Treating, I don’t mind children making the effort with dressing up, going around with their friends, having fun and handing out treats and are in bed by 8:30pm. After all, what they are doing is harmless fun. What I do mind however, is beggars. I’m talking about the ‘kids’ who are too old for this, go around causing trouble, don’t bother dressing up or having the cheek to ask for money instead of sweets. It’s shameful, rude and disrespectful.

That’s where I stand. So whatever you class yourself as, enjoy the season, be safe and celebrate :) x

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Kook Remembers: Primary School

Do you ever have a deep thought? Delve back into memories of days gone by and think, I really must write all this down?

Well, during the night my mind was racing. Thousands of happy memories were flooding my head from the time that I was in Primary School. On the Isle of Wight, Primary school was Reception class at age 4, and then years 1-4, ages 5 to 9. For me that was 1991 - 96.

I attended Whippingham Primary School, Here is a pretty crap picture.

whippingham

It was designed by Prince Albert, his residence only being just down the road at Osborne House (I nearly got married there, how about that?) During his life on the Island he regenerated alot of communities as well as helping to design other royal residencies all over the UK. He died while the school was still being built.

4726_87313862114_556492114_2212971_2513432_n

Here is yours truly. Unless you looked really hard, you wouldn't have a clue I had a scar now.

God how I loved school. Both my parents worked full time, So I would have to get up at the crack of dawn every day to be at my Nan's house by 7am. She ferried me off to school for my first day, I remember being really excited but I missed my little brother like mad, he was only 1 and in my eyes, was the best toy in the world. The first thing we had to do, was be shown where we had to hang our coats and lunch box. We each had our names on a sticker above our pegs and mine was next to a boy called Harry. I wanted to be friends, but he didn't want to talk to anyone.
We then all sat in a circle on the floor and had the register. When our names were called we had to stand and say hello to the class. I can't remember the rest of the day too well, but I remember my best friend Maria and I making friends with a girl called Jenna (who I am still friends with) and talking about her to my Nan in the car on the way home (A drive of just 2mins).

There are significant points that make me smile. It was a very small school and when I went there had only just had a new mobile room built and areas divided into more rooms. Before it was just 2 massive classrooms and a dining/P.E/assembly hall. We only had 1 T.V for the whole school. Massive it was, and would have to be wheeled from room to room and a huge stand.
When it was to wet to play outside during lunch break, we would watch the telly. Often being gems such as this...



I remember being all sat on the floor around it, looking up at the sheer joy of the TV. Rain and hail crashing down on the mobile roof so loud it was deafening. Then a clap of thunder and everyone would scream.

While attending there was also the introduction of the Acorn Computers.



I still love them, and the games!



And how about the Valiant Roamers?



Robots in school!? How futuristic!

I'm going to be adding more to these memories when I can find some more interesting things like photos. In the meantime, perhaps you would like to share your favourite Primary (or equivalent) school moment?

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Sacla' Pesto Review

I'm sorry did someone say Pesto? I'm in ;)

There is always a jar of Sacla' classic Pesto in my fridge. I'm so lucky that pesto is one of the few things that I know Dyllan the two year old terror will always eat. It can go with so many things!
I love it in a toastie with mozzarella and tomatoes, Dyllan's favourite is a mix of pasta, shredded chicken, tomatoes with pesto all over it along with lashings of Parmesan. I even put it in mash potato.

I was sent 3 jars of Sacla' Pesto to try out, including the Classic Pesto, Wild Garlic Pesto and Fiery Chilli Pesto.

DSCN3120

DSCN3118

Aren't they just handsome?

As I said, the Classic Pesto is so versatile, and if you're not hooked at first taste, there's something wrong with your tongue ;)

Now for the new members of the family. Let's start with Fiery Chilli...

"There's a real kick in every spoonful of our fiery chilli Pesto. Just stir through your favourite cooked pasta and serve with a glass of robust red. Be inspired - brush generously on to skewers of chicken, wrap in pancetta and simply grill. Buon appetito!" - The Sacla' Website.

I love spicy food. It's not all about the heat, it's about the taste. Sacla' really hit the nail on the head with this. It is the perfect balance of heat to taste. The sweetness calms the heat whilst still giving you that 'kick' of chilli. I can imagine this being really good in the summer for BBQs, even just to dip yummy food in.

The Wild Garlic Pesto.

"Our new Wild Garlic Pesto is truly irresistible. The combination of gorgeous Wild Garlic and fragrant Basil will tantalise your taste buds. For a deliciously simple supper, just stir through your favourite cooked pasta and shower with Parmesan. Be inspired - spread a generous spoonful onto a sliced ciabatta and bake. For the ultimate comfort creation swirl through creamy mashed potato and serve with love. Buon Appetito!" - The Sacla' Website.

Oh my goodness. This was simply heavenly. Being an Isle of Wight'er I can eat wild garlic until it comes out of my ears. This Pesto did not disappoint me. I could have eaten it by the spoonful out of the jar. Perfect too for keeping vampires away this Halloween ;) I loved it so much, I made a vlog of me cooking up a quick meal of just Spaghetti, stirring through the Wild Garlic Pesto and covering with Parmesan cheese. Unfortunately, it came out almost black and you couldn't see anything :( Something I will have to add to this post later.

I urge all pesto lovers to try these new flavours. If you have never tried pesto before, Sacla' is your way forward!

Find lots of delicious recipes and the product range on their website, http://www.sacla.co.uk/
(PS; there is also a competition to win a trip to Rome!)

**I enjoyed my week off the Cambridge Weight Plan as you can see ;) For those wondering I was advised to pause it because I was poorly, back on it now.**

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Haters to the left!

I wasn't going to breathe a word of this, because to be perfectly honest with you, I couldn't be arsed. But today I read Liz's post Two sides to every story and it got me thinking.

I thought about these 'people' and how lucky they are. Lucky to have the time to be totally consumed by matters that they feel compelled to follow people around online, talking shit, spreading rumours and generally trying to get to you.

These people are called Trolls.

I've had my fair share in the past, and lately some very colourful ones. I have my little haters relating to a previous relationship sending me nasty e.mails and laughable questions on my formspring and other places. I even have some little darlings through the blogging community sending me hate mail.

And do you want to know what I think whenever I read one of these e.mails or messages?



You see, you don't bother me :) And this sort of behaviour shouldn't bother anyone else. Because they obviously have nothing better to do, and have a very slack outlook on reality and the things that should really matter. You know, like real life?

So if you ever become a victim to these little trolls (bless them) just think of this...


Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Awful few days.

Life can really kick you in the teeth sometimes can't it?
Certain things have happened over the past few days that have given me so much stress I have had to 'pause' my diet as I was getting quite sick.
Because of one particular incident I have lost alot of stuff, All of which is money I simply don't have. That isn't my only worry when it comes to money either thanks to another situation that appeared on Tuesday.
I've also had no internet or phone since Monday, thankfully today it was fixed.

All of this and I have a very poorly toddler with a nasty ear, nose and throat infection.

I just want to curl up and cry for days until life stops shitting on me.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Garofalo Pasta - A very tasty review!


I know I'm putting myself through hell doing this because of my diet, but my family has finally eaten enough of this delicious pasta to give me some honest verdicts.

I was sent some wonderful pasta to try from Garofalo and what followed was a life changing experience when it comes to what pasta I choose.

I am a massive Italian food fan. My whole family is, so to say I was excited about trying this is a bit of an understatement. When the parcel arrived I was really surprised at the weight, far too heavy for pasta surely? Nope it was the precious pasta! And bang on lunchtime too! That day, was a great day.
I decided a simple Schiaffoni* with Mediterranean sauce would do for the family lunch (I was staying at my mums and have parcels delivered there as someone is always in. Winner all round). As soon as I examined a piece of the pasta, as you do, it became obvious very quickly how different this pasta is. Garofalo have been perfecting their pastas for over 200 years and boy does it show. Only the finest semolina wheat is used in their products, and check out this awesome bit of info from their site:

"Garofalo performs over 25 quality checks on each of its Signature cuts and runs all standard industry controls twice to ensure unmatched quality for its Signature line of pastas."

Talk about passionate, and eating their products I can see why. I am totally converted. The pasta itself is so dense and filling which is why it felt so heavy. The taste? Amazing. My family agreed, and of course so did Dyllan. Over the last month my family and I have polished off the rest, including the Spaghetti. The overall verdict? Awesome. Not all pastas are created equal and I will definitely be ordering more when my diet has finished. You can buy it at Ocado, and other good delis.

Final word is if you see this pasta, buy it. You'll see just why I love it so much as soon as you have your first dish! Go check out their website above too, they have some really tasty looking recipes for you to try their products with!

*I think that was what it was, my Mum had bundled it into a special jar and thrown the packet before I could check :(

Thursday, 7 October 2010

CWP Day 4 - A day of feeling very sorry for myself :(

I'm gutted today.

I was feeling very positive. My consultant saw me yesterday and I have already started to loose weight. I'm on top of my cravings and hunger, and generally just getting on with it.

But today I have realised something which hit me like a knife through the heart. Most of you will know that deep down my place is in the kitchen. I can cook up a storm and I am at my happiest when cooking.
This is Autumn. My favourite time of year for culinary delights. I look outside, see the leaves falling in the Autumn sun and my head starts filling up with recipes for various pies, cakes, stews and soups.

018

My ritual of the first Rabbit Pie of the season has gone. So has the annual goody making for the children for Halloween, Collecting game meats from friends and gorging myself on apple pie.

068

As I read that last paragraph I can taste everything :(

So while you're all enjoying the season's gifts, please spare a thought for me :(

Monday, 4 October 2010

CWP - Day 1

Today I started the Cambridge Weight Plan. Not exactly the best starts to be honest.

I had planned to enjoy my weekend and whilst not pigging out, still enjoying some treats. I bought lots of chocolate goodies and even had an Indian last night. Problem was, over the weekend I have developed a bug. I felt 'icky' from about Friday, but last night I was non stop puking :( So I still have bags of chocolate left over :(

So 11am this morning rolled around. I had felt so crap all morning I didn't even want to look at the box of shakes. But, I still had to eat, so forced and I really mean FORCED a banana shake down me. Could've tasted alot better, but wasn't at all horrific. After napping I had the Chocolate and Mint shake which is contrast was heavenly. Then this evening I had the Spicy Tomato soup which was also lovely :)

I also had my first challenge. Dyllan always offers me the last bit of his KitKat. Of course I refused, and he was disgusted with me. How dare I not eat what he offers! So I pretended to nibble on it, and then gave it back :) WINNARRR.

One thing I am struggling with is the water. I have to drink 4 litres of water a day and it's really hard. Especially for someone who finds it hard to drink much anyway.

So I suppose it's time for some 'Before' pictures. (dang it)

DSCN3110

DSCN3115

Please excuse the state of my mirror and floor. I've been decorating!