Cheers William (Blake)

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The Sick Rose

O Rose thou art sick.
The invisible worm
That flies in the night
In the howling storm:

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

Don’t be the sick rose today pals. When you encounter your invisible worm, tell it to poke it, whatever or whoever it may be.

I hope you enjoy the September sunshine on this beautiful Thursday evening!

Love ya,
Jo

Workshop Wednesday: Coffee Tables

We all know that one of the most important things in life is coffee.  

So, it therefore goes without saying that coffee tables are an absolutely essential piece of furniture for any self respecting human being.  Even more so if you are in your early twenties when you wish to portray yourself as:

a) really grown up and having some sort of grip on your life;

b) completely financially secure and not having to stash gin in your handbag on a night out because you can’t afford bar prices;

and

c) an extremely cool young thing who prefers nights out to nights in, and doesn’t wear bed socks (coffee table magazines work wonders for your street cred).

With this in mind, the day we moved into our new house we decided that it was time we invested in a coffee table.  Before we had even thought about unpacking, cleaning, or food shopping – it was that important – we trundled along Broad Street in Reading, perusing every charity shop that came under our radar for our new coveted living room essential.  Alas, we were unlucky and went to Argos to buy a kettle instead, where, like divine providence, a battered and bruised runt of the litter coffee table was there ready for us to rescue.  Because it was so ugly, it had been reduced from £100 down to £25, but it was completely functional and made of solid pine.  We snapped that beauty up and Sam had to carry it on his shoulders  through throngs of bemused shoppers, the mile back to our house.  Totally worth the weird looks.

And this is where the fun started.

In poundland, we bought some paint brushes, and although they are not tippety-top quality, they did they job just fine.

In homebase, we bought some furniture paint. It took a whole half hour to decide between three different shades of white.

In TKMaxx, we bought some door knobs.  They are really fun and make me happy.

Whilst Sam was at work, I set to work shining this minger of a table into something chic-ish.  Being completely over-excited and impatient I firstly made lots of mess…

Silly girl, remember your 6 P's

Silly girl, remember your 6 P’s

…and then I discovered the virtues of newspaper.  I would recommend covering everything you own, including yourself, in newspaper.  Try to paint evenly and smoothly, and not flicky (even if it makes you feel like you are on Changing Rooms), because you will end up with paint all over the sofas and in your hair otherwise.

I knew The Daily Mail could be useful for something!

I finished my fast track to adult life with the shiny new door knobs (once the paint had dried, of course).  They came in a pack of four, so I am excited to find a use for the two left over.  Suggestions very welcome!

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The finished product.

IMG_2610This little beacon of adult life is now bedecked with candles, a scrabble board and a couple of well placed magazines, just in case any one decides to drop by for a coffee. And if they don’t like coffee or pop culture, we could always drink cheap cider and dance to Kasabian instead.

Saturday breakfast deliciousness

This is a good day already.  I made myself a bowl of happiness to kick start what is going to be 24 hours of very messy smiles, dancing, drinking and catching up with family and friends.

And, it’s Grandad’s 89th birthday! Happy birthday Grandad!

My favourite human

My favourite human

So, I present to you my BulgarWheat-Quinoa-Oat-CoconutMilk-Honey-Lavender-Cranberry PORRIDGE!  A big ol’ bowl filled with creamy, sweet yum (which is more like pudding for breakfast, than healthy for breakfast).

Breakfast!

Pretty colours to guarantee a smile :)

Delicious treat ingredients:

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Coconut milk (super bargain!)  

Bulgar wheat and quinoa mix (no Tesco publicity intended.  Sainos do a perfectly good mix too.)

Bulgar wheat and quinoa mix (no Tesco publicity intended. Sainos do a perfectly good mix too.)

Cranberries

Cranberries

Honey

Honey

Lavender from Grandma Williams' garden

Lavender from Grandma Williams’ garden

How to make these delicious treats:

  1. Measure your desired amount of quinoa and bulgar wheat mix, and a splash of oats if you wish, into a pan.  Then pour the right-ish amount of coconut milk over the top.  I am incredibly lazy and never ever measure.  If it starts to look too runny, add more oats/quinoa; if it starts looking too thick, add more coconut milk.  Eeeeez-eh.
  2. Cook on a low heat for 20-ish minutes, until the connection starts to resemble thick, creamy porridge.  Stir the whole time, or you will end up with a washing up nightmare.  Ain’t nobody got time for dat.
  3. Pour your yum into a bowl.  The prettier the better.
  4. Add a generous spoonful of honey, a handful of cranberries and sprigs of lavender on the top.
  5. Eat.
  6. Smile.

Clearly, you can add whatever you like on the top, but this is just what we had in the cupboard (because we cannot be bothered to go shopping).  I think blackberries would also be a yum option, but hurry hurry!  They are on the turn and you will not be able to pick them in the hedgerows for much longer.

I hope you have a beautiful Saturday!

Love ya,

Jo

Lovechock

Seeing as I am a self confessed chocoholic, but also a wannabe healthy human, I have been battling huge standoffs between carrots and Cadburys, and have been finding it increasingly hard to stay away from the brown stuff.  Because it is good.  Because it nurtures my soul.  Because it speaks to me in languages only my heart understands.

And then, voila, like a gift from the Gods, Instagram guided me towards Lovechock, and it was fabulous.  Raw chocolate, with no sugar; milk, soy and gluten free; certified healthy credentials; eco-friendly and fair-trade?! Urm, yes please.  Get in my greedy little mits.

Okay, I am an absolute sucker for packaging and this little bundle of joy serves to do nothing but make you smile.  The bright, swirly designs might make you think you’re being naughty, but even the ink is organic.  Under the cardboard outer, the chocolate is wrapped in a compostable foil, which you could put on your compost heap along with your carrot peelings if you so wished.

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I will not describe to you the joyous pleasure of eating this deliciousness, as I could not do it justice.  To put it simply, I love dark chocolate and there is not an exception here.  It is beautiful.

‘Happiness Inside’ is what my little brown box told me, and inside revealed that Cacao was the ‘food of love’.  I want to be happy and I want to love.  Full stop.  This is medicine, not a treat.

A letter of thanks to my Mother

To my darling Mum,

Where to begin?  One whole year has passed since I got to talk to you last.  A whole year since you told me to “stop being annoying” whilst I clambered all over your bed, and a whole year since we had naughty lines of chocolate together.  A year since you plaited my hair for the last time, and since you last watched an episode of Holby City.  It feels like yesterday that you laughed at me because I was training for a half marathon, yet here I am a year later, having not heeded any of your warnings about arthritis in my knees, training for another half marathon, but this time in your name.

You are beautiful.  Easter 2013.

You are beautiful. Easter 2013.

And, in only one year, it seems as though everything has changed.  I am not the same person you left standing at your bedside.  Our family are not the same wild things they always were (Dad learned to cook – and rather well, too!).  But you will always remain the same.  Forever you will be wonderful.  Not one breath of time can corrupt the darling memories of you in our hearts, and that is truly fabulous.

You and Dad in Innsbruck.

You and Dad in Innsbruck.

When you left, everybody told me how sorry they were for losing you.  But, they are wrong!  I don’t recall ever having lost you last year – not like that time I lost you in Homebase when I was six and hid in the cement section crying, waiting for you to come and find me.  No, we didn’t lose you; we couldn’t mislay something so precious as you.

Reppin' the 1998 cool

Reppin’ the 1998 cool

And how could you possibly be lost when I see you so clearly about me in everything I do?  What those people don’t know is that the reason I don’t wear makeup is because you told me it was pointless.  And that the perfume I wear religiously every day smells of you.  You are there when I wake up and eat weetabix, and when I climb into bed at night with a good book.  It is because of you that I have such a profound respect of diamonds, and that I wear sunscreen every day for fear of damaging the good skin genetics which you gave me.  I treasure the fact that you taught me that it is okay for women to drink pints of beer, and how to always get what you want in the end, without stamping your foot.  Even my dissertation oozes your personality – Greek Mythology and poetry – you introduced me to that world of wonder first.

Gal pals

Gal pals

I want to thank you Muma bear on this anniversary of me seeing you last, for always being a shining light in a very confusing world.  Thank you for your excellent taste in music so that I may have a soundtrack to see me through the very many uphills of life.  Thank you for not caring about fashion so that I could see past the superficiality of our contemporary world.  Thank you for being so naturally beautiful so that I may always be content in my own skin.  Thank you for the painstaking cooking lessons and onion chopping masterclasses (I will never be able to recreate your olive bread).  Thank you for your never ending kindness and good humour so that I can remember in my brattish strops what I should really be doing.  Thank you for putting every human on this planet before yourself and protecting us with your love.

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011

Even though you are not here with me, every day you continue to teach me something new; I am only sorry that I didn’t listen to you sooner because life would have been a lot easier.  You will be glad to know that I now understand your love of torrential summer rain.  Feeling warm raindrops splash against your face and neck and arms and clothes and legs, and not caring about how wet you are getting, is great.  Even better is that I have also discovered your food-shopping-whilst-the-world-cup-is-on trick – AMAZING! You are a genius!  And you are right, England are pants at football anyway – there’s no need to watch it.

Holiday fun.

Holiday fun.

My only request in this coming year is that you never stop teaching me new things.  You were right about everything (annoying as it is to admit), and your advice would go down a treat when we don’t know how to work the boiler in our new  house, or when I’ve broken six consecutive needles in your sewing machine in under half an hour, or when I’m poorly sick and need some magic medicines only Mums know the recipe to.

But, most of all, thank you for telling my stroppy ten year old self, who was annoyed with her siblings and wanted to go to boarding school, that although you couldn’t pick your family, you should cherish them with all you possess, for one day you will need them more than the air that you breathe.  You couldn’t have predicted a truer future.

You are the best things.

You are the best things

I miss you.

Love,

JJ

 

Good genes run in the family.

Good genes run in the family.

 

Seeing in 2013 together.

Seeing in 2013 together.

Cheers Emily

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Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Emily Dickinson

Keep on running

If you hadn’t already guessed from my Instagram photos, I’m running a half marathon in 2 weeks. No doubt it will be rather fun and I am enjoying the training immensely (although there are more hills than you can shake a stick at). Every day, there is some new, shiny wonder of nature to be discovered and marvelled at, which is the very reason I love running in the first place.

But my second reason for my love of putting one foot in front of the other over and over and over, is that it is instantly grounding and puts life into perspective. Your feet hurt, and so then your brain doesn’t hurt quite so much in comparison. You are really thirsty, so your burning desire for chocolate melts away. Simple. All those problems you had five minutes ago? Yeah, they’ve run away with your chocolate cravings and brain pain, too.

I run for me. I run because it makes me feel happier and brighter and shinier, and who doesn’t want to be a shinier version of themselves? Who doesn’t want to escape from who they have to be day-in day-out? Goodbye real life, you can be really pants sometimes.

On the 21st September, I will be running around Reigate for St Catherine’s Hospice in order to raise money, awareness and remember my wonderful Mother. I could not be more excited and proud to do so. For one day only, I will not be running away from the things that scare me, but I will be running in their name, hollering and screaming from the lofty heights of the North Downs that something bad happened. Something bad happened and it hurts loads but running away made it better and running back again made it even better and oh-my-goodness isn’t the world beautiful.

Please find it in your heart to read about the amazing things St Catherine’s Hospice, and every hospice on this planet, do for our community, and communities across the world, and remember that they only manage to fund it from donations from the general public.  You have already helped me raise so much – I cannot stop thanking you.

https://www.justgiving.com/Joanna-Ford4/

 

Running fings wot make me go faster

Running fings wot make me go faster

Spätzle

When we went to Austria at the weekend I ordered my one of favourite Tirolean dishes; Spinatspätzle with cheese and onions.  Which is essentially southern German/Austrian spinach pasta (everybody argues about who made it first…), with a lot of cheese and some fried onions.  If you are really lucky, you might get some tomatoes thrown in there, too.  

Spinatspätzle in all its glory

Spinatspätzle in all its glory

 

Greedy guts

Greedy guts

I would very strongly recommend optimising this experience by talking a long walk through the forest first, drinking water from trickling springs, stopping at a local farm for a beer, then eating your Spätzle at the most wholesome looking Gasthof you can find.  The more taxidermy the better.  If you round it all off with some Marillien-Schnapps you are laughing – I can guarantee you will be smiling for days and have rosy cheeks to boot.

Marillen Schnapps (apricot)

Marillen Schnapps (apricot)

Forests + Beer + Rivers + Spätzle + Schnapps + Taxidermy = A happy wholesome human