As you may have read before, I recently acquired an allotment and planted some veggies – what I could, considering the lateness of my acquisition(check that out here: And Sow It Begins). You will be delighted (I am sure) to know that some of those veggies have managed to push themselves out through the soggy clay soil that is so prominent here in the South East of England.
First ones to come out and get pulled up were my radishes.
I was so proud of them! But then I wondered what I would actually do with them. I have never liked sliced radishes in salad. They suddenly seemed so boring. Then I thought that they would probably just sit in my fridge until I threw them out but I couldn’t possibly allow that! So I looked up various radish recipes and discovered there are actually a variety of things you can do with radishes but the one that appealed to me the most was to slice and pickle them because then you can do so much more with them afterwards. The recipe I decided on had garlic too but I didn’t have any garlic at that time so thought I would leave the radishes and turned my attention to my other blossoming veg(?) – well I don’t actually know what to class chillies as but I had a little plant filled with gorgeous looking red ones. No, I do not know the names of chillies. I don’t even like chillies. But I love my husband and he loves chillies so…well you see where this is heading.
I was going to make a chilli chutney or sweet chilli sauce but because my brain was locked on to pickling, I looked for a chilli pickling recipe. Lo and behold, I stumbled upon the perfect one. Pickled onion and chillies
Here is the recipe I used for that (in case you get the urge to eat a load of tasty home-made pickles!)
Easy and delicious spicy pickled onions recipe
600g of shallots
650ml of white wine vinegar
2 cardamom pods – crushed (one for each jar)
2 allspice berries (one for each jar)
2 teaspoons of coriander seeds
2 teaspoons of mixed peppercorns
2 birds eye chillies split lengthwise – including seeds
2 bay leaves
500ml of water
35g of salt
- Peel the shallots and put them in the saline solution for 12-24 hours depending on size. Place a small plate over the onions to make sure that they are submerged in the solution and store in the fridge.
The next day:
- Rinse the onions well. Put the jars into the oven to sterilise them (I turn the heat to 160c/140c fan and when the temperature is reached I turn off the oven. The jars keep hot for quite a time).
- Add the spices to a dry non reactive saucepan and gently fry to increase the aroma of the spices (don’t let them burn!). After a few minutes add the vinegar and boil for 5 minutes. Best to open the window during this process and keep well away from the saucepan as it reeks. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
- Pack the shallots into the jars, adding the bay leaves, chillies and a little of the spices from the hot vinegar between the layers. Finally pour the vinegar into the jars, pushing the onions down so that they don’t float on the surface of the vinegar. I reserve a few big ones for the final layer. Seal immediately and store in a dry dark place for at least four weeks before opening.
I used shallots but I believe small onions work just as well. I used a pickling spice mix and pickling vinegar.
And the recipe for the radishes:
- 1 bunch or 4 long radishes (about 1-pound, 400 g of radishes)
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar or honey
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed peppercorns
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- optional: 1 chile pepper, split lengthwise
1. If using long radishes, peel them. Trim off the leaves and roots and slice thickly (as shown.)
2. In a non-reactive saucepan, bring the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar or honey to a boil, until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Remove from heat and add the peppercorns, garlic and chile, if using.
3. Pack the radishes in a clean pint-sized jar, and pour the hot liquid over them, adding the garlic and chile into the jar as well.
4. Cover and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.
Storage: The radishes will be ready to eat after 24 hours. During storage, the liquid will turn a nice rosy color and flavors – such as garlic and hot peppers – will get stronger. The radishes can be kept in the refrigerator for up to one month.
Obviously I had far less radishes and had to make do which is why they are floating a bit but I compensated for this by loading in the garlic (about 7 in all) and I used the pickling spice mix and threw in two bay leaves for good measure.
Well I so enjoyed making these pickles that I have decided I am going to do some baskets with home-made goodies for the teachers’ Christmas pressies, including two smaller jars of my pickles
Oh, and stay tuned for more. I am going to try making rosehip jam and jelly (obviously depending on the state of my rosehips in the garden) and lemon and lavender drizzle cakes using my own lavender
Copyright © 141113 by Karen Payze
And so it has happened. I have plunged headfirst into the crapper. No, not really. But in a way I have. I am doing research. Necessary, secretive stuff, this research. Don’t ask. I won’t answer. But you will probably have noticed the addition of a new category: From Bonnets to Bluebells – A journey into Victorian History. Here you will find some interesting (and maybe not so interesting) bits about Victorian England. I hope you enjoy this journey with me.
And now, back to the crapper. No I am not being rude. There really is someone aptly named John Crapper (although I would like to think that when he was born, his mother did not think at the time that his name would eventually be used ‘loosely’ to describe the habits relating to his own designs – although I must point out here, that design does not equal invention). Toilets were invented long before the Victorians and indeed long before Mr John Crapper himself, as was waterborne sewerage, although you would probably be surprised by that considering the common knowledge of the wide use of privies back in the day. But it was the Victorians who changed the way toilets and bathrooms were designed and used. The use of outdoor toilets or privies were common place but a lack of adequate facilities with an ever-increasing population led to what is now widely known as The Year of the Great Stink (1858) and as a result of many illness and deaths relating to waterborne diseases like Cholera (after all, where was all that over-flowing sewerage going? Think big, wide, long, flowing out to sea and dominating the map of London and you will certainly come up with an answer ) there was a call for a great improvement in the sewerage system. And with great improvement in one area, great improvement in others will undoubtedly follow.
So toilets got their upgrade. They went from smelly, unsanitary cesspits, which were probably on a par with the porter loo’s you find at car boots nowadays to shiny porcelain bowls and high level cisterns with copper or brass yank chains and leading eventually to symphonic flush and the toilets we admire today. Although, I must point out that these toilets would have been fairly expensive and, although all new houses of the time were then supposedly built with an added bathroom or at least a connected toilet (which were often still located outside – dirty, smelly things), this was often limited to the rich or upper middle classes with the poorer and often also older houses losing out on the waterborne sewerage and fancy toilets and instead continuing to use outdoor privies, at least until around mid twentieth century. Oh, and it is probably worth noting that the improvements in waterborne sewerage lead to the erection of our fantastic network of public toilets and if you ever go into one, study the dates on the walls, you will probably find that you need to thank the Victorians for it. And if you’re wondering: Yes, they did have loo paper!
Copyright © 121013 by Karen Payze
As someone who has never actually gone on any writing courses, I must say I sometimes find it hard to write a novel. I have many, many ideas and more often than not start writing something then get stuck or lose my way or whatever else that happens and wind up leaving it.
The first novel I wrote, the one I self-published for me, was written so haphazardly that I don’t think I will ever be able to write another novel the same way. I wrote as ideas came to me which mean I had lots and lots of bits and pieces by the end that I then had to string together to create a uniformed whole (or at least something resembling a singular novel). It was tiresome to say the least and probably accounts for any loopholes or unexpected changes of character that one would have encountered when reading. I have already decided I am not going to go back and rewrite it. Maybe in ten years time, or when the fancy takes me. Indeed being as accurate as possible in plot, character and timeline was not my foremost reason for writing the book. Finishing was, in fact, the reason for starting in the first place – if that makes any sense.
Since then, however, I have tried to write novels that will flow more easily from beginning to end. And I do feel that the only way to achieve this is to write the novel from beginning to end – no patchy bits to glue together. This is how I would imagine most authors to write. And has, as such, become a standing rule for my writing. Even when I get what I think is a brilliant idea for another part of the story, I refrain from writing an entirely new chapter or section or sequence on it. I write down the basic idea (on my ideas page) and don’t even link it to the particular book I am writing because I think that, when the time comes, if it fits into the story, I will use it, if not, I have it and I may use it for another story. In doing things this way, I no longer have to fit ideas together that may result in uncomfortable reading.
Even though I have achieved this in my writing, I still find so many other obstacles on a daily basis (least of which is actually finding the time to sit down and write) that I am constantly having to adapt my writing skills. As an example, I sometimes struggle with what to do first. I know everyone is different in this and some will launch into writing, leaving the whole scene and all the characters to build up around their pen. I have done this with one novel but found it actually causes my flow to be constantly interrupted as I stop to think of why a character has just done something or what other character could come into the story to counterbalance. Another story that I am writing requires a whole new world or even worlds to be imagined for the story to be accurately played out in them and therefore writing without forethought could pose some significant problems. And guess what: I have indeed come unstuck so have left that story for now to give my mind a chance to properly create the setting before I continue.
In the meantime I have started another story. This time, however, I am going about things a little differently. Do you remember in school how the teachers would show you how to visualise the plot, settings and characters of a set-work novel you were reading? In my class, we had to write down each part of the story on separate pages in our books, starting off with writing down what the setting entailed. That helped to visualise the environment and trigger the imagination into getting involved in the story. Next, we had to create characters but leave half a page to a page for each of the main characters and 5-6 lines for subsidiary characters. The characters were physically described, their relative connections to each other and to other (sometimes unnamed characters) in the story were described, their characters were described (as at the start of the story) and as the story progressed, so the blank lines under each character was filled with changing ideas or attitudes and changing appearances, etc. And of course, the basic plot was described (usually through reading the blurb on the back or the preface in the front, if their was one), which in turn would be expanded upon as the book was read.
So the story I am now starting will be designed in this manner. The village and houses are fictitious but based on a real village and houses to allow me to visualise the setting. With regards to characters, there are to be many (as there always are in a village) but some will be more significant than others. I wrote down boys christian names, then separately I wrote girls christian names and lastly I wrote down a number of suitable surnames. I then wrote the surnames next to the names that seemed to fit them (with both the boys and girls). There were many more names than surnames so quite a few received the same surname but I didn’t stop to check that. I only checked after all characters were named. I then started building a character ‘bank’, starting with the first male name, then searching for all the other linked names to add them under the main name as either spouses, children, siblings or cousins. I must say it has made things quite interesting
And now I can start with my story, from beginning to end. Don’t worry, I do have a basic plot in mind and, as I have the various characters and their individual characteristics and situations in mind, I should be able to write a story that builds up but at the same time flows along!
How do you start a new story? Do you launch into it. Do you carefully plan out characters, settings, plot? Is your writing all over the place or does it flow from start to finish? Let me know in the comments below
Copyright © 081013 by Karen Payze
Kindles…do we really need them? For a long time I didn’t want one because I always thought that having my hands round a chunky book, burying my face into pine-scented pages and watching the words jump off the page and form people, places and things was more exciting than sitting down with a tablet in one hand and clicking a button on the side with the other hand to turn the page. Well, that is what I thought – until I got a kindle. No, it isn’t the latest one but it’s perfectly good at displaying a multitude of fantastical writings on a ‘page’ AND I still am able to conjure images from the printed text. I would like to say I had to get a Kindle as a result of the changing face of the literary world. But I didn’t because libraries do still exist in their current form. I wanted to get one because over time I have come to realise how exceptionally convenient the are to have.
Wonderful things, are the Kindles. They can easily slip into a bag and can be taken with you to wherever it is you are going. I would think such a handy device would come into its own in such dreary places as the dentist or hairdresser where, with the flick of a switch, you are transported to the stars or on a steam train or running with the wolves. How time would fly then! It would be equally useful, of course, – and has been observed by many to be so – on a train, bus or plane journey (although I am not certain about the latter: they often tell people to switch off all electronic devices) as long as you avoid reading a disaster book as that could cause endless problems for you and indeed your fellow passengers.
As I said previously, it was my birthday and with that comes the mountain of family phone calls and birthday wishes (doubly so in our household as my daughter and I share a birthday). It was after chatting to my lovely sister-in-law that a strange thought came to mind. It was from a remnant of our earlier conversation when we were talking about the Kindle. My sister-in-law was telling me all about how wonderful the Kindle is, how easy to use and ever so convenient. Unless you were having a bath that is. It saddened her that she could read her Kindle wherever she was, except for the bath – and she loves having a long, unwinding bubble bath. Her answer to her dilemma was to place a magazine rack in the bathroom – within stretching distance of the tub, of course, and fill it with her magazines. So she was able to read her favourite gossip mags and still have a relaxing bath.
Now, as many of you already know, I also enjoy a relaxing bath (check here for more details of that). It’s great to unwind and I do find a lot of my inspiration comes during of after a good hot bubble bath. And I have even, on occasion, kept my writing book close at hand in case I became so inspired that I had to write a brilliant piece that instant. But I have never actually read in the bath. I have never even considered reading in the bath. However, having heard about my sister-in-law braving that most horrid of things – soggy pages – I considered that it may actually be nice to read in the bath. After all, if reading helps to unwind, relax, de-stress and inspire and bathing helps to unwind, relax, de-stress and inspire, then they are a perfect match and would do great wonders for the body and soul!
So I wondered why you cannot get waterproof Kindles. After all, it makes real sense to have them. People take them every where. /no only that people often eat and drink whilst reading. Can you imagine a cup of hot coffee going all over a kindle? Or even worse, hot chocolate and floaty, melty, STICKY marshmallows? What a disaster that would be. As someone who has never owned a Kindle before, I would have no idea how I would actually feel but I did one knock my mobile phone off the arm of the sofa (clumsy elbow) and it happened to splash straight into a glass of water – like the circus people who jump off a high ladder and land in a small bowl of water (okay I think that’s only in cartoons but I think you get what I’m saying). And I would like to say I was devastated but I was actually furious that my luck would lead the phone straight down that particular path.
Back to the Kindle. I did think this was a great idea and started to Google it straight away. Lo and behold – there it was, staring straight at me, unblinking. It’s actually a company called Waterfi that waterproof items. And the Kindle is one of them. Unbelievable? Yes, I thought so too, until I watched this video:
And I think it’s a brilliant idea. And now we can read in the bath, without soggy pages and without destroying our Kindles!
Do you read in the bath? What would you read in the bath – magazines, an engrossing book, non-fiction? I know what I would read: a novel from my favourite author of all time - Jane Austen. And If I had to say a specific book, well it would have to Pride and Prejudice of course. Now that would be bath time fun
Copyright © 300913 by Karen Payze
As you know from several previous posts, I am trying to be a more serious writer and, although I have been very busy lately and the stream of blog posts has dried to a trickle, I am still writing. Specifically, I am hard at work on another book. So with the little time I have on my hands these days, I find I am torn between blog writing, poetry and writing my novel. There aren’t enough hours in the day to do them all so most of my attention goes to my book. And if I start working, which (hold thumbs and cross fingers and toes) I will be doing soon, I will have even less time to devote to my writing.
So I thought I would try my hand at some serious writing before going ahead with the ‘job that pays the bills’ and see if it pans out. I decided to turn my talents to article writing for money. I figured the best place to start would be where they don’t require a degree to make a post( In journalism – I do have a degree!). I went for yahoo articles. And I can say that unless I get a really ‘easy’ topic, I probably won’t be doing it again.
It seems that yahoo attracts some real nasties (well, I think I already knew that as I have read, on occasion, some yahoo articles and seen the comments that follow). My family and friends all said to me that I must not read the comments (which I did anyway) and the negative comments are actually about the content although one person thought fit to attack me personally for it. What these people don’t realise is that the writers do not necessarily choose their topics. They are offered topic choices (assignments) and they choose to complete them (or not) depending on their personal experience. And actually I got off lightly compared to some of the other writers. One poor woman got some really horrible feedback that personally attacked her and she probably feels the same way I do (or not who knows).
Of the four I was offered (yes such a large choice isn’t it) there was only one to which I could relate. And so I wrote about it. I read and re-read it, edited, checked and double checked and read it to others (who all thought it was good) before, with pounding heart, I published it. The result was some good comments and some negative comments and a total of 2,644 page views in two days – which is actually quite a lot.
With that many hits, you are probably wondering why I said I wouldn’t do it again. Well, the reason is not actually because of the nasties even though, as some of you already know, I don’t cope very well with nasty people, it’s actually the nerve-wracking, tight knot feeling in the pit of my stomach. And that is from wondering what everyone else thinks. Silly, right, wondering what 2000 plus people thought about my 700 word article when I write posts on here and don’t ever really worry what people think. I have decided that the reason for my strange awkwardness is because it is such a different platform. On here, people know me, what I write about and how I write and they accept it whereas on yahoo, I am just another one of ‘those’ writers. And I think I am probably not ready for that.
Thinking about this makes me wonder if I am actually ready to put myself out there through another book or, indeed if I will ever be ready. I think I will be when the time comes but for now I will stick to my blogging as I am comfortable doing it. Any other writers out there who feel the same? Have you tried writing something that places you out of your comfort zone? How did you cope with it, how did you feel? I appreciate any thoughts
Copyright © 300913 by Karen Payze
Below is a transcript of my imagined conversation with a toxic friend whom I have recently taken the most difficult decision to remove from my friends :
Her: Hey, I just noticed that I am not on your friends list anymore. Why is that?
Me: You’ve just noticed? Really? It’s only been a couple of months!
Her: Well, I do have hundreds of friends you know.
Me: I do know.
Her: So I don’t need you then.
Me: And now you know why…
Wondering why I had this conversation with myself in my head? Because, even though I have come to realise that this particular person is a toxic friend to me, I have been friends with her for a long time. And it was hard for me to let her go. And I am still in that process of letting go. As a person who has a tendency to worry about things and blame myself for things, I guess I am probably at that guilty stage of what I have done. I am aware, though, that I have not done this to her, rather I have done this for me.
Of all the people I have known in my life – and no I personally have not had hundreds of friends and I actually doubt that I personally even know a hundred people but I have and do know a fair number – none have taken me for granted more than she. Why did I let her do it? Because I actually felt (or made myself feel) that she was a real friend to me.
I must say that I am lucky enough to actually have one or two genuine friends now and being that older and (hopefully) wiser person has allowed me to see people for who they genuinely are, well most people anyway. And after having a lengthy conversation about toxic friends I went home, opened my eyes and realised that I actually had one of those too. And as I sat there, staring at the screen of her latest belittlement attempt, it finally dawned on me that she had NEVER been a true friend. She had always, in fact, been toxic to me.
She was the type of friend who used me to go places with her – and I realised only now that when she had someone else to go to those places with, she actually left me out. The type of friend that used to talk crap into my ear about everyone else around her and how much she despised them (including others in our own circle of friends) saying things that made me believe (in my naivety) that they were actually horrid to her and mean about me. And I have only now realised that her actions must have come from a deep desire to possess me. After all, you can’t have that handy friend hanging around waiting for your call if they are running around with the other friends! The type of friend who used to – and still does – make throw away remarks that are designed to hurt. And even though I am still going through this process of letting go, I actually do feel better already. The weight of someone else’s negativity can really leave you with a heavy heart. In light of my discovery, I felt I had to arm myself with the knowledge of what a toxic person is, what they can do to you and your self-esteem and how to rid yourself of them and their toxic ways. I found some very interesting pages.
Wikihow has an article showing you how to recognise a toxic friend. You can find that link here: http://www.wikihow.com/Recognize-a-Toxic-Friend
And according to an article on iVillage, there are 6 types of toxic friends, as follows:
1. The Promise Breaker
2. The Double-crosser
3. The Self-absorbed
4. The Discloser
5. The Competitor
6. The Fault-finder
I think that some toxic friends can be represented by more than one aspect on the above list. That very interesting article can be found here:http://www.ivillage.com/6-types-toxic-friends-and-how-you-can-deal-them/4-a-283671
It also gives suggestions of how to deal with these toxic people. After all, we don’t always have the option of throwing them straight out the door of our lives.
And Dr Maxwell has some interesting suggestions for recognising toxic people and eradicating them from your life. that can be found here: http://www.askdrmaxwell.com/2013/07/toxic-people-and-how-to-avoid-them/
There are many, many, many more articles relating to this topic and if you Google search, you will surely find an abundance of information relating to toxic friendships and toxic people in general (including in the workplace). Of course, it always helps to ask yourself if you are in any way perpetuating the negativity and toxicity of this person towards you. But in saying that, you wouldn’t and shouldn’t stand for abuse from a partner or loved one and to my mind, this is no different – no one should have to tolerate a friend who uses and abuses!
Now I know that all friendships have their ups and downs and most times you just deal with it and get on with life. But these type of people actually make you feel less of a person and when you have had one around for years of your life, it can actually be quite draining. This is a friend who, if you were to do a checklist for good and bad, would have a stream of writing under the bad and one or two things (if any at all) under the good. I don’t know why this friend was this way to me. I will probably never know. I could ask her, but do I really want to and then dive back into those murky waters I have only just managed to escape? No I don’t!
What do you think about toxic people? Do you think they exist? Have you ever had a toxic friend? What would you do with toxic people in your life? Let me know in the comments below
Copyright © 200913 by Karen Payze
I am an
Yes, it sounds like a swear word or an acronym for something weird, but it isn’t. What this is, is a personality profile – MY personality profile. now, I am not normally into labelling myself or placing who I am and what I feel into a little box but I do think there are aspects of personality profiling that can be useful, that can actually explain things about why I did that, said that, thought that or felt that. The thing one has to be careful of when reading about one’s personality profile is the urge to start labelling yourself or making excuses for things you do or don’t do because you are a certain personality type. Another problem with personality profiling is getting the urge to change your answers to fit into the profile that you think you are. So if you really want to do this, remember these two points:
Your profile results are still basic and generalised so don’t change who you are to fit it and don’t think that because it says you fit a certain profile that you are destined to be that type of person – we are all changeable.
Be honest when answering the questions. After all, if you lie you are only lying to yourself!
As some of you may already know, I have a very small garden out the back of my garden flat. It is mostly paved but I have been able to get a few things growing in a small rockery garden and a small bed off to the side. I have always loved gardening but it is so difficult in such a small space. Coming from South Africa, I have always been used to big outdoor spaces with lots of room to grow whatever took my fancy :) So I put my name down for an allotment. And I am pleased to say I acquired one yesterday. It’s a bit overgrown in places, a bit hard, dry and bare in others and a bit anthill-y in the rest! But it certainly has potential. And, with a lot of hard work, I daresay I will triumph!
It’s the Summer holidays and a six-week break. Great for kids and parents, right? Well it certainly is for the first week, especially if you’re lucky enough to go away for a few days but what happens afterwards, when boredom sets in. Now I cannot really comment on people who have more than one child as I do not but in my imaginings I would say it must be that little bit easier as siblings tend to occupy each other a lot more (well that’s what happened with my sister and myself) and when I was young, I had the freedom of running around with the neighbourhood kids or riding my bicycle -on my own – around the local neighbourhood. Sadly those days are now gone. So no ‘gangs’ of kids to play with and, in my daughter’s case, no sibling either. And with one child, you are the one doing the occupying. And even though I have a great imagination I still run out of ideas, especially with a child who would happily sit on the computer, if I let her, which I don’t, so instead I get: