Saturday, December 3, 2011

Life 's pleasures and where it can lead !

8x8 Oil on Board (Commission)

Over the years I have taken notice of what we do with our lives,  I have tended  to have had many creative pursuits which have given me pleasure and dropped them along the way. Over the last little while I have enjoyed oil painting and made small pictures that have given me pleasure and a few family members have a few paintings as small gifts.

I had managed to keep quite a few of them when an opportunity came up to give them to a charity for an auction to raise money for rescued animals. Although it didn't raise much it was ( $55) enough to help go towards the rest of the items sold which made a small donation for Animal rescue amounting to just over $2000 dollars.

It  gave me an idea to continue to enjoy  my pastime and give something back to Animal Rescue by selling pictures of  dogs and cats. I have been able to paint several dog portraits which actually gave the owners a kick to have a small portrait of their pets. Seeing that there is an interest And an opportunity I have started a new blog called Art saves Animals (ASA) and will be posting pictures of some of the pets so far. Hope it give you pleasure as much as me!


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Painted creatures


Reclining Cow
Flying Chicken
We have a family member who has a flair for Folk Art, creating things in wood such as the Flying chicken, Pumpkin and Reclining Cow.
He enjoys time in workshop using his creative abilities and giving pleasure to family members.
Jo, my sister, being one of them, just returned to UK with a painted pumpkin in her suitcase, the cow is out to sea at present and hoping to land before Christmas!   

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Three of Us!!!

We will take a walk down Church Street
On the 12th September we will be at the airport to meet my sister, Josephine, she is the youngest. Her first visit was about this time last year. Since emigrating in 1969 there were a lot of years we didn't communicate to that extent. Maybe the occasional phone call or letter just to keep in touch.

Then 2009 our father was Ill and  in hospital  so I took the trip home and stayed with Jo for 7 weeks dealing with hospitals and travelling on the tube almost everyday we caught up on our lives.

We realized during my stay that we had a lot in common and were able to understand that family is very important. We decided to keep in touch more often and arranged her first trip, staying for 4 weeks in 2010 Her stay with us was a quiet one on the whole, no big trips to the city and more or less keeping pretty close to home.

We all love fresh food
John (my husband) found having two sisters together wasn't as bad as he thought it might be!
All three of us are interested mainly in good food and art. As it turned out a good combination, we all took turns in cooking the main meal and starting a family club of sorts. John, over the years, had painted a few pieces, Jo had taken a course many years before and had painted miniatures in oils and did quite well I had always been interested in painting but had not gone very far with it. We had our barn set up as a studio with the canvases, oils and easels and for some reason we enjoyed the experience getting Jo interested in our hobby.

During the few short weeks we made a pledge to work on painting and setting up a blog so that we could keep in touch and show our work off to each other. This has progressed like wild fire. John getting down to painting the Main Street of our village, Jo taking up a course with her daughter in London  and me at the rear and doing 6x6 peanut paintings with Carol Marine and many other folk on her blog. This has encouraged me to keep striving towards better work sister Jo keeping me company on the challenges when she could.

Walking by the Coffee shop
Last weekend our local coffee shop 'the Grackle Coffee Company kindly gave us permission to show our work. We feel in one year we really have done well and excited about this upcoming visit.

And Jo's daughter's dog will be waiting for her return!
No doubt with lots of good food, a few glasses of wine, painting in the barn and a few visits for coffee with the local Artisans at our local Grackle Coffee shop. Just right for at this time of year for the three of us upstarts to enjoy the fall treats and family get together.
See you soon Sis !

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Life and a voice.

Reflections by Daughter Lisa
I watched a program last night, one of those sort of self help things and realized I have spent many hours over the years reading a lot of that type of material and features on Oprah interviewing many people who have done a lot for themselves improving their lives and others along the way.

I believe many of us feel deep down that little thing called "unworthiness" and that has stopped us from working through the fear and coming out the other side with benefits and reaching the very thing the Universe had planned for us, We put ourselves through agony with saying over and over "what me!" I can't do that, I can't afford that, always have an excuse not to push yourself forward that's for other people to gain success and you cheer on the sideline thinking "I wish I could do that".

Oprah used to talk about a "light bulb" moment, looking back over my life I have no doubt that has happened to me and instead of taking notice and doing something about it thought it was better to get on with what I was doing and turning that little light off. Well at my age I guess I missed the boat many times. However 12 years ago I was diagnosed Mantel Cell Lymphoma, I was told there was an experimental procedure and the Doctor asked if I would like to be amongst other patients and take the opportunity there were about 30 of us who took the plunge. It was the first time I actually heard someone shout at me saying "DO IT" I thought the voice came from someone in the room but, it was only me that heard the definite order!

I have often wondered where that voice came from but it certainly was a gift I haven't forgotten. Although actual treatment was gruelling and during hard times I would hear the voice telling me "keep it up, you're OK" I actually felt calm after and I knew somehow what ever or who ever the voice was it always seemed close by.

This week I went for my usual check up, it always is a bit traumatic, especially when you see so many people waiting for treatment, and to see the Doctor. It is sort of like a club but, no one communicates with words but we know we are all in the same boat, you hope for good news when they call your name.

My name now has been called 12 times. (12 year!) "Barbara Bradbury" in I go trying to feel cool as a cucumber after being weighed I am ushered into the cubicle waiting to see the Doctor. His assistant arrives Morning she says and plonks a very thick book of information of 12 years all about me!

She stands up and looks at me beaming with a smile saying "Barbara you are a little Miracle", the Doc walks in checking the records and then me for any problems he looks at me and say's exactly the same thing "Well now you are a miracle! See you next year."

All I want to say is if you hear a voice really urgently saying something listen and what ever you do Act on it. I have had 12 wonderful years of living on this glorious planet, yep you still have your ups and downs but, boy you really can enjoy your husband family and friends.

It might not be a Million dollars but it sure feels like it at times.

Thank you "Voice" where ever you are you have given me much and a chance to be creative, one of the things I thought, and still feel. not worthy, but by golly I try hard and enjoy my hobby, painting. Even more fun Hubby paints, my son Stuart paints, daughter Lisa is a talented photographer, my sister, her daughter and grandson all are talented artists, I am in a family club!

What more could I need?

Anyone reading this I hope it will help you listen and catch that voice! Who knows what it might do for you.

From A very Grateful human being still alive and kicking!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Chicken Feathers

Rhode Island Reds
When things were scarce, way back when, my Grandmother was the source of all things useful that had to be used and looked after.

During the war we were encouraged to use a garden as a vegetable patch from potatoes to fruit that could help with rationing.
We had a long thin garden that gave us enough room for a chicken coup that was built at the end of the garden. It was made from wood planks and chicken wire, and was a neat home for the chickens who could sit in little boxes set in the walls for producing eggs. The eggs would roll out into a trough for collecting them outside. The chicken run was about 10ft long which gave them plenty of room to have their food and grit in comfort and to be able to do what chickens do!

I can remember at Easter we would go to a store and pick out the babies, usually 12 of them, they were in a box with straw and when we got them home they would be kept warm and fed until they were ready to go into the chicken house, we always had the breed of Rhode Island Red we  liked them for the lovely brown eggs.

Christmas Dinner
We kept a cockerel, as well, he was very proud with beautiful dark blue tail feathers, the hens knew he was boss. and unbeknownst to me was our Christmas dinner!

The wash house was where most of the laundry was done with a huge mangle for the clothes and a big galvanized tub for washing on a wooden table. We kept the feed in their and all vegetable scraps were boiled up with their feed added along with oats.
I would go with Granma every morning and mix up the mash all warm with my hands, great fun, on a cold Autumn morning the steam creating a great amount of flavourful fumes drifting down the garden path which would start a whole lot of excitement for the hens waiting for their morning breakfast.
The trough was about four feet long which gave plenty of room for them to feed in peace, I would stand and watch them devour the breakfast all pecking away and very happy.
They always rewarded us with beautiful brown eggs every day, which I collected in a strawberry basket and delivered them to GrandMa to wash and be ready for a nice fresh egg for breakfast.

We now live in a rural area of Canada, but unfortunately we can't raise chickens unless you have at least ten acres of land, we buy our eggs from the Super Market, but there doesn't seem to be the taste or flavour in them. We are lucky to have such abundance but, something seems to be missing from what I can remember of how special it was to have the pleasure of a fresh brown egg boiled for three minutes with brown bread and butter.

I guess we tend to always remember the little things in life and how food was so precious and we grew up never to take things for granted, even though I didn't like cabbage!

There was always a mysterious thing that happened during the course of the year, a chicken would be sent back to the country (I was told)but on that Sunday we would have chicken for dinner! Then Chicken feathers, in a big sack appeared in Grand Ma’s room. After picking them out and stripping the feathers she would bake them and carefully put them into a pillow case and saved this was to fill a patchwork quilt she was making.
When I was older I realized Sunday dinner and chicken feathers went together, that poor hen had not gone to the Country after all!

Happy memories from difficult times.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Aunt Olga and Me!

Aunt Olga. lighting up time
Aunt Olga was to me different from a lot of ladies of the time, she was straight laced, straight back very particular in her dress and in her home. Her favorite saying "there's a place for everything and everything in it's place " her favorite colour was powder blue, her favorite fragrance was lavender and Aue de cologne, the scent she used frequently was made in France for soldiers in the Napoleon War, they couldn't wash so the cologne, made from oranges and lavender was a deodorant,

She always carried smelling salts in her handbag in case of emergencies. and pretty lace handkerchiefs that were never used, white kid gloves for winter and white cotton ones in summer, for protection when touching unfamiliar door knobs etc. Her biggest investment was a Beaver lamb fur coat from Canada she wore for years for Sunday best along with a light blue hat, similar to the Queen Mothers.

Beaver lamb fur coat
Her interests were embroidery, she worked from a small walnut sewing desk that had cushioned pink silk with all her embroidery floss, needles, and special scissors with thimbles.
She enjoyed her past time a lot.

One of my duties every Sunday after Sunday school was a visit with Aunt Olga for tea. It was a regular event, as soon as I arrived shoes were taken off at the front door slippers put on and hands had to be washed toot suit!

She always made a Victoria sponge sandwich cake iced to perfection with homemade strawberry jam filling, Sandwiches were usually cucumber thinly sliced on Hovis bread and a smidgeon of butter. I had to sit up straight at the table and eat veeeery slowly chewing a lot before swallowing this was for good digestive habits she explained.

Victorian Sponge cake
Tea was served in bone China flowered cups a little sugar and milk added, you never could drink tea it had to be sipped. All I wanted was a good slab of the cake to eat that was set on the table on a glass stand and a special cutting knife. It was cut in a small piece and I had to eat it with a dessert fork. When we finished out came a little silver pan and brush to match, the table was swept of crumbs and put into a jam jar ready to feed the birds at the local park. That was the “waste not want not” bit taking the precious crumbs to feed the sparrows sitting on a park bench, then the walk around the park looking at the plants and flowers and knowing I would be questioned as to what flower I was looking at and did it have a fragrance. I suppose looking back over those visits it was all a learning experience for manners, on being a lady and appreciating food, and cleanliness.

Food was never eaten walking along the street or being casual, she always treated food with great respect, relishing every bite she had.  
Day Trip
Back then not many families owned a car, most of the time using buses. My Aunt Olga eventually invested in a Morris minor powder blue, it sat most of the time in the garage with a plaid blanket covering the bonnet and a paraffin heater to keep it warm. It was treated well, never a scratch, wheels were always washed after any outing.

Typical Morris minor of the period
We did go out a few times, but, Aunt was particularly quirky. A picnic seemed a most complicated arrangement. Time and place was set by the radio announcer for weather which included the shipping forecast. We gathered around the radio to find out if it would be a suitable day to travel if it was, all hell would be let loose I would watch in fascination. A hamper was found and  Aunt would have the sandwiches cut into quarters and a Victoria sponge at the ready wrapped in serviettes, a primus stove tea kettle best china and a chamber pot in case!
We would do a very slow trip to a place called Chew Magna it was a village flooded to make a reservoir. Arriving at a suitable spot off the road  (with traffic passing) we would unload spread a table clothe and pump up the primes with aplomb Aunt used to always have a treat of Darjeeling tea which took ages to prepare especially if the wind blew out the primus stove out, meantime I had the duty of setting the plates, cups and saucers. I know to this day it was one of the most embarrassing day trips ever, we were close to a field watching cows on one side and waving to other travelers from their car on the other side (I had to remember my manners!) it sounds disloyal but when it was time to pack the car I said a prayer in thanks, I decided to decline any other invitations from then on, being all of 8 years old it was too much for me !

Chew Magna reservoir
I flatly refused to use the chamber pot even though she had a blanket for privacy.!

The powder blue Morris minor lived to tell many stories it was sold after over 17 years! without a dent or scratch on it to a collector.  He was thrilled as it was in such mint condition.

How times have changed!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Communication then and now..

Typing on the IPad
New methods of communication have galloped along at a tremendous rate, at the moment I am writing on the I pad number 1, now after less than a year is out of date. If I wanted to, on this current machine, I could learn the piano, start up an orchestra with any instrument needed, compose then send it out viral. I could learn to paint with an Ap I don't understand, I can find recipes without looking in the many cookery books I have acquired through the years.
It boggles the mind as to how much equipment is current and out of date within a year! #2 I pad came out last week with a camera too, along with many more facilities to crowd into the brain. Incredible and magnificent but can be dangerous!
We see now how we are engrossed in communication whether we need it or not. It has become an addiction!

We grew up in quieter times, to use a telephone was for an emergency making a trip usually a mile away to find the red telephone box and make the call having to have the required amount of change in a box and often be cut off after three minutes!

News, weather forecast etc was on a radio, made of some type of
wood, valves wires and a big plug in the wall, it sat in a corner waiting to be turned on early evening ready for the Evening news or light entertainment like the Archers or for excitement Journey into Space of course for grown ups it was The Man in Black very scary.

Our daily local news I found was to go shopping then it was social time, between the butcher and the veg shop. Many stops along the High Street to catch up with the local gossip in the area. We would actually talk one on one.

Now relationships with family, neighbours and friends is mostly on Wi/Fi satellites buzzing around with the astronauts for company! it all can be extremely useful or on the verge of a nervous break down. We have all sorts of Gurus to help us through the stress of our new inventions, anything from meditation to going to an Ashram and trying to find yourself!
Marital Bliss

Still I am very glad, I do love my I pad that way I can keep up with the families and what they are doing on Facebook! My son calls me the Creeper! no one has time for visiting, folk having to work two jobs to make ends meet and no time to relax with the family. Have we taken the wrong fork in the road?

We have now expanded our network!
Check out our new WIP about our expierience with painting and art. It has been working for just
a few weeks and we have already have friends.
Thanks to our friends who pop in to see how we are progressing.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Adventures of Alice the Phallus

Alice was part of a brood of chicks born in Oregon they went to live on a farm where they grow beautiful Red maple trees from Japan. Lucky chicks!

I believe there were 11 Baby chicks all of them named by the owner, but, as they got older Alice turned out to be a Cockerel! Hence the unusual name. He was a very kind and considerate bird quite responsible and proud, as you can see in the picture.

He was featured in a friends blog the owner of the farm:
Growing Gills

I think he became quite the mascot for them.

Then came  a challenge from Daily paintworks:
Chicken Challenge

For a painting of a chicken which I decided to enter as we didn't have any birds of our own, I thought of Alice so he became my project I was able to get a copy of him from the blog and managed a reasonable 6x6 oil painting.

Unfortunately I realized I hadn't asked permission to obtain the picture sending an apology and suggested if she would like Alice I would ship him to her when the paint was dry. I was surprised at the quick response and the word was Yes!

So at the moment Alice is on his way back home to Oregon
I must say I haven't made him beautiful my skills need a little honing in the Art dept. but it makes me happy knowing he will be welcomed home very soon.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sand, Sea & Steamers

My Birthday is April 5th along with Colin Powel, born the same year too. I often used to think I would live forever. Time was a thing you had plenty of, growing up in the 40's there didn't seem such a rush or too much stress at least that's how I remember it. It felt like everything was new and Mum always used to say things will get much better now, no more rationing to worry about, and people going back to work and living a normal life.

We were able to go to the seaside at weekend for picnics etc, A treat was to have a pleasure trip across to Ilfracombe on a Campbell steamer . That was the most exciting thing to do, taking sandwiches and throwing crusts up. in the air for the seagulls, spending time on deck for the round trip and feeling the wind in your hair and the sea air on your face as we made our way on the Steamer to our destination.

Beaches had been cleaned up from any signs of war by then Weston Super Mare was full of day trippers, sometimes I went with my Sunday school class Mum came as well she always sat close to the sea wall, taking time to work out how to put a deck chair together. A blanket was put on the damp sand and equipped with bucket and spade, red spotted woollen bathing suit ready for me to dash into the water. If I can remember rightly the tide was always out you couldn't even see the sea, but it had left little pools of water and seaweed and shells. I liked spending time making castles with the interesting flotsam you could find when the water was way out and you couldn't see it, usually until it was time to go home and we would chase the water coming in. A day was endless to me riding the donkeys, eating fast food of the day, small shrimp, cockles with malt vinegar or winkles like snails, picking them out with pin on the beach, watching Punch and Judy puppets. (Punch was a nasty piece of work bashing people with a stick.) we would complete the day with sand in our shoes, hair with sea salt in it looking like something from Charles Dickens bedraggled but, happy.

We would eventually go back to the train station Mum carrying a bucket with assorted shells and a wet bathing suit dragging a couple of tired kids back to get on the steam train, the rhythm and chugging of the carriage sent us into a contented nap from the fresh sea air.

Going home I felt I had been away for days, and was always glad to go to bed quite happy with the days activity, waking up with sand in-between the sheets and knowing it would be a bath and wash my hair day when I got up. The sea water was quite muddy, apparently quite healthy too with many properties that could cure corns, swelling of the feet and make your hair shine when it was washed the next day!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

New Green Leather Shoes.

Mother was brought up in a large family, consequently she wore a lot of hand-me-down shoes, Unfortunately in her later years she had a lot of trouble, when grown her feet had become misshapen and were quite painful. She had a passion for shoes but she wasn't able to wear high heels.  So when we came along we were always fitted out with a good pair of lace up shoes for winter and sandals or daps for Summer, along with a pair of “wellies.”

Every other year it was a trip to the shoe shop where we had our feet measured a walk up and down the carpet for inspection and we were set for another year.

I guess it was a special day when Mum took me to a place called Saxons a well known expensive shoe store on the High St. It was quite a posh affair. lots of carpet and plenty of variety even bright colours, High heels were called stilettos, the tips of the heels were extremely small but, very fashionable, the opposite style was ballerina flat with no heels, then there was a wedge and Cuban.

Green with a Cuban Heel
I had, according to Mum, become a lady and school shoes were retired so I had to choose a decent, up to date, pair for my first job. That day will always stick in my mind, Mum picked out a bright green pair of leather shoes with a Cuban heel which would look smart and serviceable, then she said I could pick a pair I liked which were black leather 3inch high stiletto heels with pointed fronts. Mum didn't object, surprisingly. The treat wasn't over, to go along with the shoes was my first pair of nylons! Oh heaven I walked out of the store feeling very excited with 3 pairs of nylons with seams at the back, I realized I had no idea how I was going to hold them up! So off we went to Marks and Sparks for a suspender belt.

Stiletto Heels
When we arrived home with the packages in beautiful boxes and my precious nylons in tissue paper I understood I was now all grown up at 16 I could retire long woollen socks and brogues, yes I was a Lady.
On the weekend I was allowed to try both nylons and shoes and walk outside for the first time after a practice walk in the bedroom. I think it took me at least twenty minutes to get used to the idea of a suspender belt attaching the nylons back and front first under the knickers or over the top! then to make sure the seam was straight at the back of the legs. I know Mum was dying to laugh, but, managed to keep a straight face as I walked up the road in the stiletto heels it took a while for me to get a balance, I had a tendency to extend my arms out as though I was on a tight rope. I could hear Mum calling Babs back up straight, don't look at your feet and look confident! With all the instructions I went as far as two doors down and buckled, when I looked at  Mum she had tears in her eyes from laughing! thank goodness no one was outside and saw my first
experience of new shoes grown up style  (I hoped, the neighbours didn't look out behind the curtains)

Last but not least the. Green leather shoes were the most comfortable and I wore them for years. I polished them lovingly every weekend with a special cream and a soft clothe, they always looked good. I could walk with my head up, stiletto's would tend to go in the cracks of the pavement and you would loose your balance and your pride!

When Mum past she had quite a few pairs of shoes in her wardrobe probably never worn, she really loved shoes.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"The Crest of a Wave"

Fitness in the Camp Ground circa 1953

There has been a Boy Scout Club in this small town for several decades, but last year it closed, in spite of plenty of support from the kids but parents couldn’t find the time to help!

Then last week I read that due to the “cuts” in the English government spending Scout groups are expected tp pay as much as 5000 pound a year to rent a hall from a local council that is roughly $7500!

My Dad was in the Scouts, camping 1927
The Scout movement was more use to me than the Grammar School I went to, I learned how to work and play with other teenagers, how to live together in a tent cook on open fires and prepare several gallons of porridge for the next days breakfast. How to chop vegetables without chopping my fingers, and how to peel and eye 100lb of potatoes while laughing and joking with the other boys.

Returning from Jersey at the age of 15
Learned how to wash my neck and both sides of my arms ready for morning inspection, washing being done in a local stream, and how to use a toilet built over a hole in the ground dug by the older boys.

We went on two week camping holidays, over the sea to the channel Islands, down to the Cornish Coast, and up to the Scottish Highlands near the port of Oban.

Every weekend we stayed at a small cabin in the Pennines about 30 minutes away from home, and we got there by piling into the trailer part of a truck and off we went rain or shine, and nobody ever got bounced out!

The Gang Show, see how many boys were involved!
Once a year our Troup put on a “Gang Show” based on the music by Ralph Reader, and there I leaned how to wear stage make up and in some sketches dress up as a woman, do stage falls and trips, and sing in harmony with the other boys.

And during all that time parents weren’t involved at all, other than be the audience for the shows and provide the money for the camping trips.

As time has gone by unfortunately liability issues has changed the rules when I was a member of a troop we had a leader (Akela) his assistant and a couple of Rovers (Scouts over 15 years), now though the leadership is the same there has to be so many adult volunteers per so many kids, and unfortunately parents are too busy earning a living it is very hard for them to volunteer.

And so there are now no Cubs or Scouts and no Girl Guides in our small village of Schomberg. We do have lots of kids playing hockey though so all is not lost!

PS "Riding along on the Crest of a Wave" is one of the most popular gang Show Songs by Ralph Reader

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Baubles ,Bangles and Beads.

Bright shiny things

I have always been attracted to bright shiny things, they seem to make me feel happy. When I was quite young about five years old I would visit my Grandmother who lived with us, she lived in the downstairs part of the house overlooking the garden. The room always felt warm and cozy a coal fire always lit two comfy chairs on either side of the fire, one an old Windsor chair that now resides at my sisters house in London.

Winter evenings were best for me, I would sit by the fire and ask if I could play with a "Diddy Box" she called it, it was full of old buttons, from brass ones off my Grandfathers uniform to coloured glass buttons from dresses long gone, beads that needed stringing, broaches that were never worne. It was like finding treasure and kept me fascinated for hours asking Gran what did this belong to, who wore these buttons and so on she always had a tale to tell with each piece or button I took out to show her.

Pill boxes and others
 I think that really started me off loving to look in jewellery stores desperately wanting all the glitter under those special lights that made everything look so interesting. Gran had a saying for me "All that glitters is not gold" it wasn't till much later in my life I understood what she meant, even so I do have a jewellery box with many trinkets, probably not worn as often as I should, I do have a couple of special bits some buttons my grandfather used to wear on his dress shirt and a tie pin with the smallest sapphire you can hardly see, but, they mean a lot me.  Good Ole Gran.

P.S. my Daughter doesn't wear much jewellery, but, my Son loves to wear a ring or three! strange that!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Food Glorious Food

Showing my age a little, hopefully it will be worth it!
Fresh veg
From Photo By Lisa Curtis-Rice
Lately both of us are becoming used to the idea of being extra careful regarding the food we eat. Prices right now seem to be going up for staples, bread, flour, cereal, veg meat and milk. We like a variety of food and appreciate the fact we live in a country where there has been plenty of it.

Somehow along the way things have changed so much with eating habits: working parents not having the time to cook because of their stressed lives. It is very sad to realize fast food has almost become the norm along with rampant obesity. It turns out Mum's worry that we would never grow up normally because of  the shortage of food due to rationing  was ill-founded and , boy if she could see some children of today she would know she did a great job bringing us up and teaching us how important it was to eat our veggies and value each meal.

Tripe, calves heads pig's feet etc
Photo from Wikipedia
We both had a moment looking back to our early childhood when we had just enough food to keep body and soul together. Mothers were ingenious at finding ways to make ends meet. Although very young I always knew when mother would try to encourage me, by saying tonight we are having a treat. Offal back then was used a lot more than it is today, and my instinct would kick in and would know it would be something I didn't like, stuffed heart, stuffed marrow or faggots and peas ( a West Country delight of liver, lights onion and bread crumbs made into little balls and covered in caul the lining of a stomach!) When this was served and I managed a bite or two the reward would be a dessert of pink blancmange in the shape of a pear from a mold. Another delicacy of the time bought at the pork butcher was something called chitterlings boiled usually with a little malt vinegar poured over pepper and salt, chitterlings are the pigs inners! I managed not to be around when that was on the menu for tea. Tripe and Onions poached in milk another goody! I don't know of anyone these days delighting in the old traditions

Queuing up for meat
For me (John) rabbit was on the menu at least once a week, very good too when cooked in a pie, I can remember the local butchers shop with dead rabbits hanging in the window!

Kids were privy to orange juice and dried eggs, which came from the USA. Dried eggs could be reconstituted and made into many meals, orange juice was a teaspoon mixed with water, cod-liver oil once a week was given too and  at weekend a good dose of syrup of figs (yuk) all to keep the growing generation healthy as possible,. A small bottle of milk each day at school was mandatory. Crates would be delivered to the school and handed out at morning break, in summer would be slightly warm and winter ice would form on top, difficult to drink that way! There were no refrigerators back then.

When things got back to normal and food in better supply I was to find out what an orange or banana looked and tasted like! When the Vegetable shop put a notice up “Oranges Now In” there would be a rush to the shop with ration books in hand. We stood in a queue waiting patiently, one orange allowed per family member, same with bananas. Many a time I would have to run to the shop ahead of mother and stand in line to make sure we had a chance to get our ration before they sold out! I can remember the first taste of an orange and still it makes my mouth water just to look at them, with bananas I was very suspicious after mother yelled before I took a bite “Wait you have to peel it first.” I found it an interesting flavour but a bit weird when it was in my mouth.

Glorious food how precious it was back then, and our only fast food was the local fish and chip shop,  always on Friday we would have cod and chips lots of malt vinegar and salt, wrapped in newspaper to take it home as fast as we could to enjoy it. Always a treat and even more so nowadays that cod is a luxury becoming almost extinct!

Jamie Oliver
People seem to have lost so much interest in cooking now that there are so many restaurants and fast food chains to tempt people not to cook at home. So I bless the Food Channel and particularly Jamie Oliver who crusades in many countries trying to encourage folk to get back to basics and actually cook fresh food and to enjoy every morsel even if it is just a couple of times a week!.

Today we are having a traditional Sunday dinner: roast lamb with mint sauce!
Don’t turn up your nose it is very delicious!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Old but not yet Masters

Tomatoes by John
When we are not blogging or doing household chores we paint, currently John is painting the bedroom walls, but the real painting we enjoy is on canvas or board.

Both of us have a keen interest in painting anything from landscapes to grandchildren. We must admit we are a little late in our lives to take up the task of trying to make a masterpiece, but, what the heck we thought we'd have a go, and set off 5 years ago to a place in Barrie that was just the job for art supplies, Currys. Going through the door we felt a bit like a couple of old farts that should know better. It was quite an experience picking out canvas, paints and a few brushes.

After paying for our new hobby we got home and Babs realized although loving art she never had worked on canvas or used oil paint! John had done a fair bit of painting in the 70's and we had a few pieces of his work hung up in our kitchen. So at least one of us had a clue!
Tomatoes by Babs
Our first attempt was to paint some tomatoes on the vine, and after a lot of trepidation we  took the plunge with  tiny brushes and small canvases! After a few tries we realized Van Gogh doesn't live here. Babs is what you might call very parsimonious with the paint and not a loose painter either her tomatoes could have been mistaken as red currants as they were so tiny! John on the other hand with great gusto did the same picture and came up with beautiful glowing red orbs of juiciness with lovely green leaves they looked good enough to eat.
Since then we have progressed John more experimental and looser with painting and Babs still berating the fact that talent isn't the word she could use for her efforts, but being determined and stubborn she tries, cries and tries again!

We encourage one another to continue, which is wonderful and it's amazing really  how we both enjoy the practice and effort to turn out our creations. We know deep down our families think we are eccentric but, manage to give us some praise for our efforts when they see our latest product!

One stroke challenge by Babs
One stroke challenge by Jo

One stroke challenge by John

Church Street in fall by John
Over the last few weeks Babs, and her sister Jo in England, are working in the style of Carol Marine doing 6x6 paintings in as loose a style as possible, while John is doing a series on the village where we live, Schomberg.
Doing art is good for the spirit and an excellent way to manage daily discipline.
Give it a go it‘s good for you at any age!.
Lemons in a glass by Babs

Coffee, cherries & cake by Jo

Flossie by Jo

Friday, February 25, 2011

Hobbies where do they come from?

Crochet in progress
It's February in Ontario, still lots of snow around, but, there is the beginning a hint of warmer weather to come. The birds are singing a little louder and a couple of woodpeckers enjoy the suet square, not much left now, they seem hungry and busy.

It's that time of year to think of tidying cupboards and drawers to see what I have managed to squirrel away for another day, or it might come in handy (one day).

I have a stash of stuff, hobbies that keep coming and going in my life. Now and then I get an urge during the winter months to find a piece of material, my favourite is drop cloths you buy to cover furniture when decorating. I can cut the cloth without feeling guilty and make small cushions, I embroider quotes on them or make up a pattern that takes my fancy, I have a few left, handy for a quick gift.
Embroidered pillow

I love to crochet with cotton thread making mostly small tablecloths as table toppers, very old fashioned these days, I was very ambitious one year and made a couple of bed covers, one of which I kept, the other is in UK on a bed in the guest room, quite proud of that surprisingly.

Knitting socks on four needles, mother taught me that, Granma showed the way to crochet and my Aunt Olga, every Sunday after tea, would teach me stitches of embroidery. Back then embroidery seemed to consist of crinoline ladies holding umbrellas in a flower garden. it was worked on linen for dressing tables or tray clothes. My sister introduced me to tatting I use a needle, but she uses the correct tool for the job and does marvellous work it looks very much like lace.

Three Bears
I have many samples of "stuff" in a cupboard that John won't go near. It consists of old magazines, knitting patterns, and crochet along with samples of work, and some Teddy bears I made. I know very soon I shall have to bite the bullet and have a clear, out at the moment I can hardly close the door!

My daughter has hobbies which unfortunately come and go, she does some embroidery, tried knitting too but never is able to have the time to do justice to her efforts, however she is a super photographer, and  she has a talented eye for it and it doesn't take up space, That is a good hobby. may be down the road she will have a cupboard like mine and wonder where her hobbies come from!
Schomberg Fair by Lisa