Wednesday, 31 December 2014

New Year Plans, Gender Roles and Shoddy Service.

Xmas is done and dusted and I am now looking forward to the New Year.  I always like the feeling of starting afresh, making plans and looking forward to new challenges.  I can't wait to take the decorations down, but will resist until after New Years Day or my family will protest .   I won't be bothering to make New Years resolutions as they usually barely last the month.  Instead I will be working on my 60 by 60 list that I set myself last year.  I would like to move house this year but I have been saying that for a few years, something always happens to prevent this.  Who know, maybe this is the year.

We had our two little grandchildren to stay for a few days which was huge fun, they are funny little people.  Our two year old granddaughter loves Frozen so she was singing 'Let it Go' over and over in her own unique way and insisting on wearing her 'Princess' dress.  As an old feminist it does feel like we haven't achieved anything when little girls are still encouraged to be pretty princesses, but I seem to be a lone voice in the gender role debate.

My xmas present to myself arrived after xmas, it was a book 'Women's Work the First 20,000 Years - Women, Cloth and Society in Early Times'  which I had seen recommended on another Blog.  I ordered it from a used book site which described the condition as 'very good'.  Well if this is very good, I'll eat my hat.  It was grubby and had coffee stains over it.  Lucky it wasn't a present for someone else.  After an email from me they did refund my money but they shouldn't have sent it in the first place.  I have a 'thing' about looking after my books, it really upsets me to see books abused.

The weather has been frosty here so the last few nights we have lit the open fire.  I love sitting in front of it listening to it crackling away, the sound takes me right back to childhood.  As the only heating in the house, we would all be huddled around it in the evening, I was always told off for sitting too close.   The frost looks beautiful in the garden, though I do feel sorry for the birds, they are eating me out of house and home at the moment poor little things.

We will be going to St. Ives this evening for New Years Eve where everyone will be filling the streets in their fancy dress costumes, it is one of the biggest parties around!  Our samba band will be entertaining the crowds, I'm really looking forward to it.  Do you have any plans for tonight?

Happy New Year everyone,

Chickpea xx

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Xmas Day Rainbow and a bit of 'Elvish"

I hope you all had the Xmas you wished for and are not feeling too worn out by it all.  We had a lovely chilled peaceful Xmas, just as we wanted.  The highlight was a wonderful walk on the beach on xmas day, the weather was beautiful and nature excelled herself by giving us a double rainbow.  It is annual tradition that seems to be growing as the carparks were full and the beach packed with people and excited dogs.  We even saw some swimmers, though Boxing day is the usual day for the mass swims.  Boxing day saw more family arriving and today we are picking up the grandchildren to stay with us for a few days.  Their poor mother is stuck home as the new baby could arrive anytime, at least she was at home for Xmas.

The bearded one bought me a Cornish Love Ring with the inscription in Cornish.  It says 'Un bysow dhe dhysquedhes agan kensa' which translates to One ring to show our love.  Of course our kids say it is in fact Elvish as in Lord of the Rings, and that I become invisible when I wear it.

Chickpea xx

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Nadelik Lowen

 We all have our own views on Xmas, our own ways of celebrating or not, our own beliefs and I respect that.   For me it is about family, I don't go in for all the rest of it, it's not about lots of expensive presents or huge Xmas meals, it is about my family getting together.  It is a time when I remember those who are no longer with us, and those who are far away.  To sit down and share a meal, exchange little gifts and to spend time together.   We go for a walk on the beach and are grateful for living in such a beautiful place.  We settle down in the evening, light the fire and are grateful we have a home.  We are making memories that our children will look back on with a smile. They won't remember the gifts, they will remember our time together.  

For many people, these simple things are not possible.  They may be alone, they may not have a home or food to put on the table.    There is so much pressure on people to have the 'perfect' xmas, but life isn't like that.   In my various jobs I have worked with homeless families,  with people in debt and also on a very busy domestic abuse helpline over xmas.  Life is far from perfect and xmas makes life even more difficult for many people.

So my wish for you all is that you have a peaceful and safe xmas, and if you are lucky enough a happy xmas.

Nadelik Lowen (Happy Xmas)

Chickpea xx

Monday, 22 December 2014

Trees, Wreaths and Decs

There's all sorts of things I should be doing now, cleaning the house, writing cards for people who I never hear from the rest of the year, rushing around the supermarket.  But instead I am having a fun creative day.  I am not a fan of xmas....there I said it.  So I turn it into something I do like, which is the simple pleasure of celebrating nature and creating a bit of magic.  I loved the idea of decorating the garden trees I have seen on various blogs so spent the morning balancing on a chair hanging baubles. I decorated our little living tree which will be put in a big pot ready for next year and making wreaths to take to the cemetery.  The mantle has a bit of sparkle and the cake is decorated.


The other stuff may get done, or maybe not, we can always eat cake for xmas dinner.

Chickpea xx

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Happy Solstice

I would like to wish all you lovely people a Happy Solstice.  It is one of the oldest celebrations and I can understand why.  We live a cushioned life in our homes with our heating and food easily available all through the year, but for our ancestors the winters were long and hard.  With the passing of the longest night they celebrated the turning of the year when the sun returned.  I love the Solstice, it is my favourite festival, it is a celebration of nature and makes me feel very connected with the world around me, the seasons and with our ancestors.

I will be going to a Solstice celebration in Penzance called  the Montol.  There will be midwinter fires, music and firedancing.  An election of An Arluth Muscok (The Lord or Misrule).  Torchlight processions, Guisers and Guise beasts roaming the town.  I have never been before as it usually clashes with something else, I am really looking forward to it.  I just hope I can last the night!  We had the bearded one's work's 'do' last night in St. Ives, such a magical place.


and we woke up to this view

Welcome the sun back by lighting a candle tonight.

Chickpea xx

Friday, 19 December 2014

Learning an Old Country Craft

I have completed my second basket, this time a nice big sturdy shopper.  Very wonky, I still don't seem to be able to weave straight but I love it.  It was not until I started making my baskets that  I realised the difference between the cheap ones that you can buy in the shops and those made by basketmakers who do not skimp on materials.  Even though it isn't the best looking, my basket feels really strong and should last me for years and years.  I will be signing up for a new course next year, just not sure how I will fit it in as I would love to do a spinning course as well.   Bring on retirement!

Many people would have made their living from basket making in the past (of course some still do).  It must have been hard work doing it all day every day.  It is hard on your hands and in winter cutting and soaking the materials would have taken its toll.  For me it is a lovely hobby.

It's a bit hectic here but in a lovely way as I've been catching up with friends to exchange cards, little gifts and share a meal.    All this socialising leaves little time to actually get things done but the list is gradually getting ticked off.  Wreaths still to be made to take to the cemetery and a cake to decorate.  I haven't decorated a Xmas cake for more years than I can remember so should be interesting!  Xmas decs are still in the box and the Xmas tree is still out in the garden.  Oh well it will all get done I'm not getting stressed about it.  As long as we all having something to eat, something to open and time together it will be fine.

I hope your preparations are going well and not too stressful.

Chickpea xx

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Xmas Lentil Bake

I have been scratching my head trying to decide on the vegetarian option for Xmas dinner.  Myself and our sons are vegetarian, I can't eat gluten and my sons don't like mushrooms or nuts very much. We have all the veg and trimmings and for my sons I wrap veggie bacon around veggie sausage, but I still wanted something that looked a bit special and xmassy  We all love lentils so I decided on a lentil bake with cranberry sauce.

For the ingredients I used

300g red lentils washed
1 large onion
1 red bell pepper
2 cloves of garlic
1 tblsp tomato puree
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
salt and pepper
veg boullion
1 cooking apple
grated cheese
50g breadcrumbs ( I used gluten free)
1 egg

Put the lentils in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil.  Boil for 10 mins then cover and simmer for a further 15 to 20 minutes until soft.  Drain any excess water by putting it in a sieve and letting it drip, it should be a thick paste.

Chop the onion and pepper and saute until soft, add pressed garlic, herbs, tomato puree and salt and pepper and cook for a further minute.

Add the lentils to the onion mix along with the grated cheese (make it as cheesy as you like) breadcrumbs, egg and grated apple.  Give it a good mix.

I used mini loaf tins which I greased well with a little oil then filled with the mix. You can see from the size of the wooden spoon how small they are so they are ideal for individual bakes. It makes about 4 or you could make one larger bake, which will take longer to cook.  Alternatively you could make tinier bakes in a muffin tray.

I then baked them for about 30 to 40 minutes at 200 c until they were heated through and browned.

Use a knife to loosen the edges and carefully turn onto the plate, they may be a bit soft.   I then warmed some cranberry sauce to serve on the top.  They can be made ahead and put in the freezer in the tins covered with foil before you cook them. Cook them from frozen but make sure they are cooked through.  Remove the foil about half way through to brown them.

Chickpea xx

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Quick and Easy Stocking Fillers

I got this fab idea from Kristie on her lovely Blog, her instructions are at  I used to have a wheat heat bag but I had never heard of them being made with rice.  I decided to make mine smaller, 6  inches square made from scraps, some old jeans and fabric leftover from making a blind, both of which are nice and strong fabrics.  Sew around the sides leaving a small gap for filling then turn the right way out.  I then sewed around the edges again to make them extra strong.  They were then filled to about 2/3rds with supermarket basic range rice, then the gap machined up. I kept my bags plain but you could add a bit of embellishment if you wish.

All you need to do is pop it in the microwave for 1 minute to make them lovely and warm.  They are just the right size for hand warmers or I find them really good as little heat pads that can be put under my clothes onto aching muscles and joints.  Bliss.

I have made several for my family as stocking fillers.  Thank you to Kristie for the lovely idea.

Chickpea xx

Welcome to Rebecca, Chel and Ariel :)

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Xmas Traditions Old and New

Thank you for all the comments on my last post, it is interesting to hear how we all cope with Xmas.  Our chilled Xmas has taken years to achieve.  I spent many years rushing down to my parents house on Xmas Day to cook the Xmas Dinner  for everyone including my brother and his family.  My mum had Alzheimers so we wanted to keep everything familiar. After we lost mum I continued to do it for my dad as he wanted to have the traditional Xmas at their house as they had always done.   Now both my parents are gone I have created new Xmas traditions more suited to us.  I like to keep it as simple as possible and be able enjoy it as well, I really don't want to be stuck in the kitchen all day. We don't want to eat huge amounts of food just because it is Xmas.  We have a nice Xmas breakfast usually croissants and fresh orange juice, and simple light lunch, (everyones been stuffing their faces on chocolate anyway) and don't eat the Xmas meal until the evening.  Even that isn't totally traditional as myself and our sons are vegetarian and there are just two meat eaters on the day so not worth cooking a turkey for, so more likely to be a small chicken which doesn't take long to cook and won't be wasted.  That leaves us time to go for a walk on the beach while it is still light and work up an appetite.  I try to do everything before Xmas Eve so we can have a nice lunch and drink in the city before everyone arrives. We really enjoy that day so it has become a new Xmas Eve tradition.   There are usually 5 of us on Xmas Day and then 12 on Boxing Day so that will be a buffet. There will be four generations, 2 dogs and a cat.   Most of them stay over so there are bodies sleeping everywhere!  If I had my way it would be even simpler with pasties on the beach on Xmas Day but I haven't been able to persuade my family to adopt that new tradition yet!

Every year my dad would plant some hyacinths in a pot for each of us to take home, they would blossom over the xmas period and fill our homes with their beautiful smell.  It is such a lovely simple tradition that I have tried to keep it up, though I'm not always organised enough to get it done.  Here are this years ready to be given out.

Our other newish Xmas tradition is the Secret Santa draw.  We have four children plus their partners so it can be very expensive for them to buy each other presents, so they decided a few years ago to have a Secret Santa with a set amount of money to be spent on the presents.  The bearded one is responsible for the draw and takes his duties very seriously.  All the names are put in a hat and drawn out.  Texts are then sent to everyone telling them who they will be buying for and of course they all have to keep it secret.  It is all good fun as they try to work out who bought the presents.  We still buy them all presents but they include locally bought and made products, fair trade and environmentally friendly gifts.  A  new Xmas tradition I like to keep up.

So that is our Xmas with some new and old traditions.  It has been interesting reading about other bloggers Xmas traditions.  I wonder what the Xmas traditions of the future will be.

Chickpea xx

Friday, 12 December 2014

Far From the Madding Crowd

I've had enough of the Xmas madness already, I needed to get some food shopping today and couldn't face going into the city fighting the crowds and traffic so headed out to the little Co-Op at the coast.  I got there by 9 and out again before it got busy.  I used my co-op stamps I have been saving through the year which amounted to £25 so saved myself some money as well.  I know I'm a miserable old so and so but I really can't cope with all the Xmas craziness.  I just keep thinking about all the resources and energy being used, all the animals that are going to be killed and eaten ( or often wasted, you can only eat so much) and all the waste that will be thrown into land fill afterwards.  Yes I know Ba Humbug but I like to keep it simple, for me it is about being with the ones I love.   The bearded one and I usually go in to the city on Xmas Eve and buy a little something for each other.  It is surprisingly quiet by then, and lots of things are in the sale.  We have a meal, a glass or two or three of wine, well o.k. a bottle and chill out before catching the bus home.   Oh well each to their own.

Heavy skies

Here comes the rain

The beach bar that was nearly swept away last year has built up it fortifications.

Of course being by the sea I couln't resist a walk along the beach even though it was blowing a gale.  I put on so many layers I could hardly move, but it was a wonderful way to get away from it all.  The perfect antidote to all the madness.   I needed the exercise as well, I have an app on my phone which tells me how far I have walked, I'm managing less than 5,000 steps a day.  Useless!  I have been in pain again lately so I really need to get fit and healthy and lose some of the weight I gained while recovering from my ops.  The last thing I want is another operation!

Stay warm everyone,

Chickpea xx

Welcome to Carol :)