Cook With Love and Passion

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I slightly annoy myself when I look at that picture, as I feel like I am lying… as in truth I rarely cook with love and passion as I am so knackered.

In fact in order for it to happen I need a good night’s sleep, a fridge full of the right ingredients, no children around my feet (unlike now as my son is talking to me as I write this) and the inspiration to make something lovely. Or else I need to be transported back in time to my twenties or thirties, when I seemed to have had endless hours and I would ponder over cookbooks and generally spend alot of time making yummy food…

There are days when I really do manage to whiz up some passion and on those days the food tastes good, there are many days when I don’t and on those days the food is passable or sometimes possibly verging on dreadful but no one says anything.

However on the days when I think about that lady in the picture, I think it is based on the better me,  not the one that groans at the fridge and feels her feet dragging through the floor, not the one who has had a long day and is falling at the last hurdle.

So if you can ‘Cook with Love and Passion’ fantastic, invite me over! And if you can’t, love who you are when you are cooking that is the most important thing!

Enjoy the Rain…is it possible?

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This could be a real eye roller for some people, the page you skip and move swiftly on from, as the rain lashes down on your window pane. Or you just tried to get the shopping in and got soaked, were zipping up the kids coats and the zip broke, or it is your wedding day… I lived in South Africa and when it rained people would say ‘Isn’t it a beautiful day?’ and my thoughts were always, ‘No, it is raining…’ but it is a question of perspectives as I am from the U.K, where it rains, alot.

When I was younger I used to look at the rain on the windows in the back of the car, whilst we drove on endless car journies. Watching the drops and that thing they do when the wind pressure hits them, the fact that they sometimes go up and sideways, not down. Then in my twenties, at one really low point I was in East Finchley and going to sign on and I turned a corner and the rain and wind hit my face so hard that it really hurt. In that moment my dramatic self said ‘life will never be as bad as this again’ it wasn’t that bad in the scheme of things but I was twenty, unemployed and broke and for me it was bleak. I hated rain and I felt that the bad weather had conspired to aim itself at my face.

The truth is I live in Italy where it doesn’t rain as much, well in fact it rains more where I am right now than it does in Devon. It comes in massive downpours, which in a way is much more forgiving than constant drizzle. The other day I looked out of the window and I saw a huge black cloud on the horizon, I gathered up the kids and took them up the hill. I knew that at some point the cloud would burst overhead about halfway through our walk. We had a brolley and I told them not to put it up as there was lightening as well and I am paranoid about lightening. It poured, we got soaked, they looked at me confused and then they laughed, a lot.

So what I am wondering is… can one choose to enjoy the rain, to step past the grey misery and monotony of it and find acceptance with it? When it seems to be is lashing you in the face, driving you nuts and creeping in seemingly everywhere, can you enjoy it?

In all honestly the jury is out for me on this one when faced with months and months of drizzle but when I imagine myself out there in just a pair of colourful pants and a bra with my umbrella upside down and it does at least makes me laugh.

 

 

The Lovely Book for Wonderful Women is available from

 http://www.bookdepository.com/Lovely-Book-for-Wonderful-Women/9781780661605

The Lovely Book and how it all started…

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I was living in South Africa and had written and illustrated ‘The South African Illustrated Cookbook’ prior to meeting my husband, Ant. Shortly after we were together, I was pregnant with twins. Then when they were 18 months old I was pregnant again, with a boy. We lived on a fruit farm at that time. The hours slowed down when we were in baby mode, it was beautiful but gruelling at the same time. The kids weren’t sleepers, so neither were we. Time stretched. I used to bump into my husband in the middle of the night we would both have a baby on our chests and we would be jiggling. As the girls were identical twins, sometimes I had no idea which one I was holding. 

Once the kids were around 4 and 6 I wanted to do another book, I had previously written and illustrated a South African cookbook. At the time I had help with the kids so I had the luxury to escape for a few hours in the morning, to a space which was a big glassy shed in the garden of a house. It was a haven really at that point. I sat and sat thinking of writing a kids book, nothing came…I went blank.

Then I asked the deeper question ‘What do I need to write?’ and from there the idea was a book for myself and other women, to make them laugh and positively reflect on the good stuff. I decided to write to friends and asked them the basic question ’What makes you happy?’ and answers started pouring in, then I asked the friends to ask their friends and more e mails came in. It was uplifting and lovely to hear other women’s thoughts on what made them happy. The responses were always very similar and simple and heart-warming. So from the answers that were sent to me and from my own thoughts came The Lovely Book for Wonderful Women. It was first self-published in South Africa and has now been published in the UK. The reason it came in to existence in the UK is also due to the fact that a lovely woman named Kicki had it in her bag when she went to a meeting at the publishers Pinter and Martin. She magically brought it out and blew my trumpet for me. I had only met her once before! Talk about generosity of spirit. Thank you generous warm hearted Kicki.

 

I think that all over the world women do a lot. I wanted to write and illustrate a book that could make a woman stop, pause and relax, even if just for a moment. I really hope I have achieved that.

 

And for those of you that have the book I hope it inspires you to do something for yourself, even if it is to dress up as a bee, float in the bath or go out in the rain in your underwear…

Pamper Yourself…

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This is a blog about pampering. Really. I think it is deep. Not that ingrown hair that needs tweezing and plucking but the sheer fact that it is in our feminine bones to preen. Even way back, women were sitting around in Roman spa’s using crocodile dung as face packs. And some women in the 18th Century glued false eyebrows to their faces which were made from mouse fur.

When I was in my twenties one of my fondest memories are of preening, simple unadulterated pampering. I am not as self-nurturing as I would like to be by nature, it is something I have to force myself to do. When I was in my twenties a friend and I would go to a spa and pamper ourselves for the whole day, we thought nothing of it then, we had time. My friend would smoke roll ups we would chat for hours sitting in a London spa until we went pruney. (I learnt something really nerdy about going pruney, see link below.) Spell check is telling me ‘pruney’ does not exist. I hope you can accept the fact that I make words up. Pruney is one of them.

When I was about 14 we had a lodger called Tony, he was an Italian photography lecturer at the same college where my Dad worked, an enigma for a 14 year old. Every six weeks or so I would notice strong smell of horses around the house that would lead me curiously to the downstairs bathroom, in which it looked like there had been a violent attack. The door would be ajar and he would be singing and plastering his hair and seemingly the whole bathroom with Henna. He would then put a plastic bag on his head and head towards the small dirty air vent fan in the kitchen window. If it was late he would always have a whisky or two.

I have a plastic bag and henna on my head right now and I am thinking of Tony the lodger. He was good at pampering himself.

Not so long ago I took some time out from my everyday life of running around with the kids, cooking, cleaning, working etcetera and I went to go and stay with a friend, on my own. She was running around being a Mum, balancing her kid’s needs, making food, juggling her really busy work life as well. She went upstairs and ran me a bath and she laid out a whole array of things for me to pamper myself with. In all her busyness I was touched at how she stopped and gave me the space to have an indulgent moment.

So when she next comes to me, I shall lay out things for her so that she can pamper herself and just take that sacred time out. And oh, I will not be laying out henna, mouse fur or crocodile dung for her but I will make sure she gets the time to go pruney.

Ok time to take the bag off my head…

http://ed.ted.com/lessons/pruney-fingers-a-gripping-story-mark-changizi

 

The Lovely Book for Wonderfu Women will be coming out on the 7th of May and is available from Amazon

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Lovely-Book-Wonderful-Women/dp/1780661606/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1399138000&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Lovely+Book+for+Wonderful+Women