…. in the kitchen particularly……

After years of not being overly interested in spending time in that room, I have, thanks to my wonderful ED’s gift and Sara Wilson, [author of the gift, a book called ‘I Quit Sugar’] re-discovered  the joys of creating tasty foods that feed the body and the soul. [I should probably also add that Sara Wilson doesn’t even know I exist just in case you mistake this as an advertisement for her.]

4/365 chicken salad sandwich

When I began this new adventure – about two weeks ago now – [really is that all, it feels like forever!]  I decided to give up on wheat as well as sugar – may as well kill two birds with one stone I thought [such as  odd saying courtesy my parents generation]  – so was looking for something affordable and tasty to replace that lunchtime sandwich with.

I’m not a recipe follower, never have been, probably never will be – and as I mentioned in my previous post I was experimenting with something I call Cheese and Oat Cakes which I have been making on and off for the last forty odd years – mostly off in the last ten years –  I knew though that if I was going to record this in my blog I would have to have, at the very least, an accurate record of the ingredients. 

That was a challenge!

Luckily its a pretty easy recipe to remember.  The proof lies in the fact that after pretty much a decade I pulled that recipe from my memory pretty much intact and started fiddling about with it.  Now I’ve had three attempts at making something just right for my lunchtime taste buds.   And today I got it just right!

And I was a good girl, I remembered to jot down what I was mixing in and I even remembered to take a couple of photos – well towards the end which is better than nothing!

So here’s the recipe to make 12 cakes: [I don’t know why they are called cakes – really they are more a patty-like creature.  Maybe I should call them Cheese and Oat Patties from now on??]  [Oh, and another aside, everything is free-range and/or organic wherever possible – but if that’s not your bag use whatever you have to hand]

Toss all this into a large mixing bowl:

3 cups rolled oats; 3 cups grated cheese, a good handful of chopped fresh parsley;           2 tsp Zesty Garlic Herb Blend*; sea-salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

Mix this all up enthusiastically then add in 2 eggs and about a half cup of cornmeal.  [If you don’t have cornmeal use flour].  Add in a small amount of milk to make the mixture damp, but not soggy.

I use my hands now and strongly insist that a good palm full of the mixture becomes a ball – if it won’t and keeps falling apart, add in a bit more milk.  You have to be quite firm with the mixture or it won’t bind.  So now you should have 12 nice round balls all lined up neatly on your board. [I did, she said proudly!]  I let them sit there for 10 or 20 minutes and then put my nice big heavy bottomed fry pan on the element and heated it through.  I don’t add any oil as my pan cooks beautifully without it – but use a little if you need to.

I put 6 balls into my pan at a time, flattening them out somewhat so that they resemble cakes – or patties – rather than balls.  Turn the heat down and cook for 2 – 3 minutes before turning.  If they brown too quickly turn the heat down further.  Cook the other side for 2 – 3 minutes also.

  cheese & oat cakesYou can see in this photo there is no oil in the pan, yet the cakes are still browning nicely.

And that’s it they are done and ready to eat!

Oat cakes on plateYummy!!


*A quick note about the Zesty Garlic Herb Blend, which is for me personally, a prime ingredient in the success of this recipe.  It is made by Bittersweet Herbs & Spices who do a great mail order service.  Find them on the web at

If you make these tasty treats do drop a line to say what you think.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post!

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks ………

Fresh vegetables are important components of a...

here’s a quick lead in:

The book ‘I Quit Sugar’ by Sara Wilson arrived [a late Christmas present] I read it and found myself nodding my head in agreement and really excited about the fact that this could be the road I’ve been searching for.

Now I’m a ‘mature’ woman [chuckle] hell, I’m 63 heading fast towards 64.  I will add, however immodest it may be, that on a good day I look at the very  least 10 years younger and feel timeless. But for the past ten years I’ve been struggling with weight gain despite a relatively healthy diet – my only weakness is for salty foods, I can devour a large packet of crisps in a day when given the opportunity ……………

I’m mostly vegetarian, can’t eat large quantities and don’t have the income or the wish to make fast foods part of my life style. Yet my body is inflamed, often sore and stiff and various attempts at dieting yield at best a loss of up to five kilos before zooming back up to, or beyond, where I started.  My daughter, a very clever trainee alternative nutritionist, has always thought the problem was inflammation and gave me Sara’s book as a possible way forward.

And what an excellent gift it has turned out to be.

I have been catapulted back to the 70’s when I was a novice ‘greenie’ and almost everything my children ate was grown and/or made by my fair hands.  I belonged to one of the first co-ops in the country, ‘Culpeper’s Herbal’ was my bible and Monday was baking day.

Late Summer was the time when everything in sight was preserved or prepared for the freezer [I remember the immense feeling of satisfaction  as I surveyed the gleaming rows of jars brim full with peaches, apricots, pears and anything else that had arrived into my kitchen].  I can see it all so clearly and I feel the sense of accomplishment, of pride and pleasure and satisfaction that young mother had …………… [the fact that those jars of preserves were laden with sugar shall be glossed over at this point – and I dread to think how much sugar all the hundreds of jars of jams and pickles and chutneys that came out of my kitchen contained.]

My kids didn’t eat sweets until they went to school and the real world intruded into my back to nature idyll.  The years passed, and life happened and I gave up baking on Mondays and preserving at the end of every summer.  I went back to work, got divorced, my kids grew up, more life happened and I woke up one morning a couple of weeks ago and flung myself happily back into the world of creating my own food from scratch.

It wasn’t completely straight forward though – first I had to sort the kitchen.

I moved into my little flat about two years ago, and so disinterested had I become in kitchen related activities that wherever items had gone on arrival, there they had stayed.  For instance,  for two years now I have rummaged about in three different cupboards when making my breakfast!  So, obviously the first job was to sort all that out and find the whereabouts of the ignored appliances that would now be necessary to aid me in making pumpkin puree, nut butters, humus and other tasty treats.  I also decided to remove any and all foodstuffs that could no longer be part of my personal food chain.  That was interesting!  I read labels – some for the first time – and out went a load of ‘healthy’ options.  This process reawakened the impulse to be in charge of what goes into my food – also interesting this time I wasn’t doing it for the welfare of my children I was doing it for my own good.  Yay me!

Clearing out meant cleaning too – so everything was scrubbed from top to bottom.  Obviously once everything was rearranged and clean some new interior decor was also called for – I remade and re-purposed furiously – every activity lead me on to a new good idea and so it grew and grew.  My open plan kitchen decor spilled over into the living area – which spilled over into my craft room……. which is now uninhabitable as it holds the remnants of curtain making, old or re-purposed cushion covers, rejected items from the old decor and a plethora of odds and sods that somehow turned up in kitchen cupboards that should never have been there.

I indulged my anal-retentive streak and labelled everything with my previously under used ‘Dymo’ label maker.  I spent a happy evening sorting all the herb and spice jars – emptying out the stuff that was a gizillion years old and refilling with new and wonderfully aromatic spices required to make the delicious and moreish ‘spicy activated nut’ snacks and other goodies.

The frenzy of decorating was interrupted only by the kitchen activities of creating the pantry basics necessary for my new life style.  The previously mentioned pumpkin puree and spicy activated nuts were joined by salt and vinegar almonds, chicken stockone chicken

Chicken Stock

made a huge amount of stock, some of which made a very tasty and healing soup [chicken soup for the soul springs to mind] which got me through the two days of mild detox that hit mid week…..

I can’t even remember all the things I made, I know I have begun experimenting with versions of my oldie but goodie recipe of ‘cheese and oat cakes‘ which has accompanied me through the last forty years – as I’ve given up bread for now I need something to replace that particular comfort food.  I already was growing my own fresh alfalfa sprouts and upped that out-put.  I have a jar of spring onions in water [an idea found on pinterest] that gives an endless supply of  fresh herb and I added in potted mint, parsley and rosemary to my windowsill.

Orlando has not been forgotten in all this make-over frenzy.  His favourite perch is the windowsill at the back of the cooker where he could peer over the cafe curtain and keep an eye on the comings and goings of the neighbourhood.  The cafe curtain has been removedOrlando at window and a space made so he can now sit on the window sill and not on the cooker [which has been an often fraught and frantic activity, of which more later if you are interested].

I realise I don’t care if I lose weight or not from this new lifestyle.  I am full of energy and renewed interest in my kitchen…………….. and I just realised the operative verb is ‘life-style’  not ‘diet’ ……. my contentment grows and spreads 🙂

Time Out of Life – Creating A Vision Board

I’ve just emerged after an hiatus from the daily routine – my girls and I had six days together, just being, sharing, playing, eating and drinking…………. we do this from time to time.  It’s our chance to just be together – we like being together for no particular purpose, just catching up.  One of us lives a thousand Kilometres away.  We Skype regularly, and one or other may travel to visit, but most of all I value the times when we are just the three of us together with nothing to do and nowhere to be.  Often one or other of us is going through something at these times and so our time together can focus on the need.  This time no-one was in crisis or need of support – which left us with hours of talking time unfocused and meandering!

So we decided I would lead them through a Vision Board exercise.

In my old life I ran workshops which included a process which culminates in the production of a vision board – it is the process which is important and exciting and the picture that goes home with the participant is unique and personal.

The process is not usually about material things, rather it is about the new aspects of the soul which are longing for expression.

The requirements are organised – paper and pens; scissors, paste, large base paper, roughly about  80 x 80 cm and a large assortment of magazines of all kinds collected randomly over a period of time.  [And I mean random, the more random the better.]

With a glass of wine to hand we began the process, I began by talking about letting go of expectations and thoughts of material goods – such as winning Lotto, or the bigger, better car, house or job.  The girls noted down what they wanted to gain from the process – thoughts like ‘clarity’ ‘a way forward’ and ‘hope’ were expressed.  Next they noted down their thoughts on various questions I put to them – favourite time of year and why – people who had touched their lives and how – miracles that had happened in their lives – things they are grateful for and things they like about themselves.  All these things were discussed and shared and we moved gently into a more contemplative state.

In this mood of inner quietness the girls began to look through some randomly chosen magazines.  This process can be quite challenging, as now there is no control – the process must be followed so the subconscious can reveal its desires.  Magazines are flipped through quite quickly, just looking at pictures and moving on.  When time is up each participant may take no more than two pictures from each magazine. This too must be done quickly.  When time is again completed, the magazines may be again be quickly perused to find a few words that speak to the person.  When time is up, it’s up and this part of the exercise is complete.

Now the rustle and rip of papers from magazines dies away and an intense silence settles over the room as the creators cut out their pictures and pile them up.  When all cutting out is finished, the pictures are laid out on the large sheet of paper along with any words that were also chosen.  Now it is really quiet with long periods of stillness as they look over their creations and refine them.

I love this part of the process – it is intense – now for the first time they are seeing their wishes laid out before them in visible form – often it is a complete surprise for workshop participants, but these two are a bit more in touch with their inner worlds.  Still they are quietly pleased with what they are seeing – the best of them revealed!

Next we shared, looking at one work and offering thoughts and questions about what we were seeing.  As we know each other so well we can go deeply and help each other uncover the code hidden within the choices of pictures and lay-outs.

To anyone else the finished boards mean nothing – to the creator just looking at the picture reawakens the feelings associated with the process and reminds them of the way forward and focuses their intentions on what they want in their lives.  It’s a living process!

All I can say as an ending is that both were extremely pleased with their visions – pleased, proud and happy!  Which is a strong indicator that the process had worked for them and a new path way revealed and validated.


D’s Board – colourful, sensual, soulful and spiritual.  A validation of all the work she has done over the last two years in discovering herself and being true to her own moral compass.


J’s vision board: a picture of her improving health and self-esteem.  Water features a lot [which symbolises the unconscious]. Trees represent strength to her and the pathway at the top leads straight and true into the unseen future – lined with symbols of strength.

NB:- George Clooney seems to feature often on vision boards – in this role he represents the Ideal Everyman – fun, sexy, self deprecating, educated, worldly and 100% on the side of Every Woman!  Cor!!  We probably all want one like that…..

Orlando the Marmalade Cat Has An Addiction…….

He loves his catmint [nepeta officianalis] and I try to keep at least one healthy plant available to him while the others recover or are used to provide stems for drying.

He has a small baggie of dried nepeta that he enjoys droolings over or playing cat football with – but best of all is fresh – I have no idea why, but a new plant freshly purchased sends him into ecstasy!

Recently however all the plants have died off, and Orlando has been without his fresh drugs for some weeks.  Out shopping I happened upon a nice, well grown plant and decided to give him a treat

The following photos document the outcome – it was all over in about 15 minutes and he slept it off in his bed for the next few hours!






I cleaned up the mess and went off to purchase another plant …………

Easel Card Christmas 2012


Easel Card Christmas 2012

I know its a bit late – or a bit early – but I just started a board on pinterest called ‘Christmas in New Zealand’ and loaded this photo of a card I made last December onto it.

I’m on a mission to encourage the true seasonal flavour of our Christmas time – no more cotton wool snowmen, robins on snow bent branches and happy families around the fire – I don’t want to be in stores any more that are sprinkled with fake snow and playing that ‘Sleigh Bells Ring’ song and others like it. We should be writing and listening to our own Christmas songs, about warm sun and blue skies and sharing picnics with our families and friends. We must really find and celebrate our own traditions now……………..

But enough of that rant – I’ll find more stuff to load both here and on pinterest and I’ll come back to these thoughts later on.

Mixed Media [prior to 2013] ‘Radio Shack’ door sign


Mixed Media [prior to 2013] 'Radio Shack' door sign

Made for my daughter’s partner – an avid broadcaster….. and,oh dear, now I’ve forgotten what it’s called…….
Made from a ready made mdf board, painted, covered with paper and mod-podged. Distressed edges, die-cut radio waves, a photo and the call sign cut using the cricut machine and sealed again to finish.