Archive, December 2019, Lifestyle

December 2019

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Today mark’s the first day of December, and it becomes very clear that we are hurtling towards the shortest day of the year (21st) and the final days of 2019, in fact of this decade! This time of year is where you begin to see the activity within the beehive come almost to a complete halt, however the opposite is happening out on our high streets and personal lives as we enter the busiest period of the year.

Cranberries, satsumas, clementines and pomegranates are a plenty at this time of year, along with winter cabbage, brussel sprouts, leeks, parsnips and beetroot. In fact, beetroot will sit quite happily in the plot all winter until needed, which is what our crop is currently doing.

Hot Chocolate becomes the nations favourite beverage, possibly with a cheeky shot of rum in it for those over a certain age (if you have never tried this I strongly suggest you do, rum laced hot chocolate takes you to another world!) fairy lights frame every window and tinsel is EVERYWHERE.

No matter what you have planned for the next 31 days be it big or small I hope you have a wonderful time! I urge everyone to be kind to one another during the hectic run up to Christmas, so often good will and a positive energy is lost due to the stress of having a ‘perfect’ day, but please remember that as long as you have your loved ones around you and raise a glass in the memories of loved ones lost then that is all that matters at the end of the day. So please, be kind.

See you on the flip side!

Archive, Blogtober 19, Books, Fiction

Coraline – Neil Gaiman

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Synopsis:

SOMETIMES, A DOOR IS CLOSED FOR A VERY GOOD REASON…

There is something strange about Coraline’s new home. It’s not the mist, or the cat that always seems to be watching her, nor the signs of danger that Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, her new neighbours, read in the tea leaves.

It’s the other house – the one behind the old door in the drawing room. Another mother and father with black button eyes and papery skin are waiting for Corlaine to join them there. And they want her to stay with them. For ever. She knows that if she ventures through that door, she may never come back…

Step into the wonderfully creepy world of Coraline, the thrilling and sinister modern classic from New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman.


What a fantastic book to kick of my October reading list with! Coraline is a beautifully written and very eerie tale about a young girl who finds herself fighting for her family’s and her own survival.

My first experience with Coraline was through the Tim Burton film released in 2009, and I was not aware that it was loosely based on a book written by Neil Gaiman for his daughters meaning I was a bit wary about purchasing this as I assumed having seen the film there wasn’t a lot I could get from this book that I didn’t already know. How wrong I was!

The original tale of Coraline is nothing like the film adaption at all, and it is weirdly more creepier making the film look like a Disney fairy tale in comparison. The story telling by Gaiman is superb and he builds suspense quickly and effortlessly as you ride the wave of this tale and urge the hero of the story to overcome and win the battle with her other mother.

Also, the descriptive language that Gaiman uses paints such a vivid image in your head when reading this book that you would think you were there alongside Coraline on her adventure which makes it difficult to put down this short story and before you know it you are at the end of the tale. In fact, even though this book is only 13 chapters long, I think it is the quickest I have consumed a book since I was a teenager!

So yes! I 100% recommend you pick up a copy of this book for yourself and become engrossed by the tale of Coraline Jones in the same way that I have this Halloween.

 

 

 

Archive, Blogtober 19, Lifestyle

Autumn 2019 Bucket List

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Autumn is my favorite season of the year! Which I don’t think is too much of a shock seeing as it seems to be most peoples favourite time of year. There is just something magical about the dark nights, the excuse to be wrapped in a blanket at all times and the build up towards halloween and then the Christmas countdown that just fills people full of excitement. I personally love all of the above and also seeing nature change into vibrant colours of yellow, orange and reds before the world falls into its deep slumber come Yule. I am have decided that I need to start leaving the house more this autumn so that I can make more memories, so here are my hopes for the upcoming months!

  1. Autumn walks
  2. & an Autumn Picnic
  3. Drink my bodyweight in hot chocolate (obviously)
  4. Conker hunting
  5. Play more board games
  6. Plant garlic and onions for spring
  7. Use the slow cook more to making warming meals
  8. Make at least one new soup
  9. Visit a museum (Hopefully Beamish)
  10. Complete cross stitch
  11. Halloween film marathon
  12. Read some spooky halloween books
  13. Pumpkin picking and carving
  14. Bake halloween treats
  15. Say yes more often when asked to do things (this one is scary!)

 

 

Archive, Blogtober 19, Lifestyle

31 halloween movie countdown

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Last year we attempted to count our way down to halloween by watching one spooky movie a night that fit into the halloween theme. I say attempted as we drastically failed due to the usual family chaos that occurs the night before another work and school day commences. However I am sure that 2019 will be the year that we complete our countdown. 31 movies for the 31 days of October.

This list is also very much a 31 pre-teen halloween movies which is actually a lot harder to think up then you would expect! Let us know if we have missed off your favourite (pre-teen) movies off and what your planning to watch on the run up to all hallows eve so we can add it to our list.

  1. The Black Caldron
  2. The Goonies
  3. Gremlins
  4. Boxtrolls
  5. Rocky Horror picture show
  6. Underworld 1 – 2 & 3
  7. The league of extraordinary gentlemen
  8. Van Helsing
  9. The Lost Boys
  10. Shaun of the dead
  11. Hellboy
  12. Sleepy Hollow
  13. Tremors
  14. Zombieland
  15. Sweeney Todd
  16. The Craft
  17. V for Vendetta
  18. Frankenstein
  19. The Mummy
  20. Little shop of horrors
  21. Hocus Pocus
  22. Beetlejuice
  23. Frankenweenie
  24. Edward Scissorhands
  25. Corpse Bride
  26. Coraline
  27. Nightmare before Christmas
  28. The Addams Family
  29. Ghostbusters
  30. Death becomes her
  31. The Witches

 

Archive, Blogtober 19, Gardening

September Vegetable Patch: Harvest season

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Where do I even start! I totally missed uploading the last garden update post, despite having it sat in my drafts folder as I am ridiculously unorganised and quite frankly shit with deadlines. Oops. So quite a bit of content in this post today (sorry).

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We started September off removing a lot of the vegetables from the vegetable patch such as the potatoes, shallots as well as harvesting ridiculous amounts of courgettes, beans and rhubarb. Once quite a big portion of the vegetable patch was removed my dad dug a huge hole in the middle and we emptied the entire contents of two compost bins into the ground before replacing the top soil. My dad told me that this will feed the garden / soil over the next few months and will help us when it comes to growing more vegetables next year, yey!

Once that was done we transplanted over the unknown vegetables from the tiny little ‘nursery’ I made months ago. I say unknown vegetables as we are unsure if they are cauliflowers, cabbages or maybe sprouts? There was about 17 of them on top of one another in that tiny nursery space so I think some might just be leggy cabbages but we will have to wait and see what grows now they have enough space in the vegetable patch.

We also planted some spring cabbage and some leeks! They are so tiny compared to the other vegetables in the patch, especially the leeks so I am hoping they survive the winter and do well! I am already planning leek and potato soup!

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So, as a run down this is what we currently have left in our vegetable patch:

  • Beans
  • Courgette
  • Beetroot
  • Savoy cabbages
  • Leeks
  • Spring cabbages
  • Unknown vegetables
  • Turnips

 

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I think the courgettes are definitely coming to the end of their season now, you can tell by how slow it is taking the plant to produce fruit and the courgettes are a much darker shade of green now. The beans are also almost at their end, we have enough par-boiled and frozen to last us through winter so we are thinking of just leaving them to go to seed so we can harvest some bean seeds to keep for planting next year.

The savoy cabbages (first image) are also ready to take, their huge! I’ve honestly never seen them so big! I can’t wait to have them with my Sunday dinner on a rainy day smothered in hot beef gravy! It’s making me drool just thinking of it!

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I’m also a little scared to pull the beetroot, as you know I planted them under all of the large leafy greens due to lack of space and I was not 100% sure they would survive, and although they did they still have taken a long time to grow and look a little sad for themselves with some leaves being brown. I think I am going to leave them in for as long as I possibly can before pulling them all to be boiled and picked to go with the Christmas turkey and ham on boxing day!

So that’s that! And although it is now Autumn and you would think garden season has come to and end I still have loads to do in the next two weeks! I’m just hoping it stops raining long enough so I can get it all done!

Jobs to do:

  • Order onions and garlic
  • Plant them when they arrive
  • Plant spring bulbs in borders and in the pots
  • Cut the flowers in the boarders back
  • Look into how to store my olive tree during the colder months
  • Sort the herbs out and see if I can dry any to be used during colder months
  • Cut lavender back
  • Transplant lavender cuttings into the front garden

Let me know how your garden is going now we are transitioning into the colder half of the year, or maybe your entering spring / summer! If so let me know what your planting flower and vegetable wise for the upcoming months.

 

 

 

Archive, Blogtober 19, Lifestyle

October 2019

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September has flown by and we have at last stumbled into spooky season! Yes, October has arrived! Pumpkins are already popping up in shops and should be ready to be picked if you have been lucky enough to grow your own this year. Autumn rains also brings out the autumn mushrooms in abundance and I am hoping I will be able to go out and identify some that grow locally to where I live in the coming weeks.

I am also hoping to complete Blogtober over the next 31 days (which is were I upload a post here everyday of October) as well as manage to read 5! Yes 5!! spooky / horror themed books during the month which is not an easy task seeing as I usually average 1.5 books per month. Eeek! On top of this little legs has asked me if we can do another movie marathon where we watch a movie every night on the countdown to Halloween!

Garden wise the first frosts are coming, so you need to make sure you tuck up your tender plants or alternatively bring your pots indoors so that they survive the cold season. I personally have to look into how I go about looking after an olive tree and various herbs during the winter months as I would hate for Jack Frost to come and kill them off.

AND THEN we have Halloween and Samhain itself at the end of the month (31st & 1st Nov) where there will be lots of baking and cooking and pumpkin carving and parties and spending time with the people I love most. So, a busy month ahead! Let me know your plans for October especially for Halloween and Samhain if you celebrate!

Archive, Lifestyle, September 2019

9 things that have made me happy in September

How quickly has September flown over please? I honestly had to sit down over the weekend and really think about what I have even done this month never mind what made me feel happy! I hope you have also had a good month! Let me know in the comments what you’ve been up to.

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a drink and a book!
I have been trying to pop into my local coffee shop or pub after work recently, just for half an hour to forty minutes for a quick bevy and to read some of whatever book has taken over my life that week. I have really enjoyed this, and sort of forgot how good it is just to take a small break away from the daily chaos routine of life.

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painting!
So this isn’t something that pops up on here but probably will over the winter months when the garden comes to a stand still, but I often paint warhammer miniatures and I bloody LOVE it. At the beginning of the month LL’s entered me into some painting competition and give me only 6 days notice to get my miniature painted! I have no idea where I placed other than definitely not first (ha) but I am really proud of myself for getting it finished and entering as well as being mega proud of LL’s winning first place in the youngbloods competition!

jumpers!
It’s officially jumper season again up North! I dug all my winter knits out and they are ready and waiting to go, I’ve worn a few already but last week we weirdly seemed to re-enter the summer temperatures again, which along with the damp is probably amazing for the slugs, but not so amazing for our vegetables!

flowers!
I found my first lot of black flowers to slowly introduce to the garden next spring! Black tulips also known as Late Queen of Night, I don’t think my mam and dad know what they’ve let themselves in for #gothgarden.

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vegetable patch!
This one may be a recurring theme throughout these posts as being in the garden just makes me beyond happy especially when things are growing as it feels like I have accomplished something. This month the summer harvest was removed from the vegetable patch, and we have prepped the soil by digging it over and adding the compost bins contents to the soil before leveling it off and planting some autumn winter vegetables. I still need to get some garlic and onions but so far we have spring cabbage, leeks and cauliflower.

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harvest season!
So as mentioned above the summer harvest was removed just before the end of September and it is amazing what we have managed to grow from one small plot of land! Potatoes, courgettes, shallots, broccoli, cabbage, rhubarb and enough beans to sink a battleship with!

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beautiful sunsets!
The run up to Mabon / Autumn equinox blessed us with some beautiful sunsets! Usually we don’t get to see these up North in September as the sky is always dark with rain clouds, but we somehow hit lucky this year with fantastically clear, dry sunny days which meant the sunsets were magical to witness with their hues of purple and pink and the baby blue sky above!

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porridge!
I know a weird one. But it is finally porridge season and don’t lie, there is nothing better when the cold mornings set in then this little warm fuzzy hug in a bowl! Also can we talk about how Olive and Beans take out porridge is the bloody best in Newcastle! They use proper scottish oats, drown it in maple syrup and top it with raspberries and strawberries. I’m drooling at the thought.

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night out with my favourite!
 The thing that made me most happy this month was the first night out in FOREVER with one of my favourite humans in the world! We went out for pizza and to a talk about the psychology of serial killers which sounds grim but it was incredibly interesting and such a good night out!

 

Archive, Books, September 2019, True Crime

Hell’s Princess – Harold Schechter

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Synopsis:

In the pantheon of serial killers, Belle Gunness stands alone. She was the rarest of female psychopaths, a woman who engaged in wholesale slaughter, partly out of greed but mostly for the sheer joy of it. Between 1902 and 1908, she lured a succession of unsuspecting victims to her Indiana “murder farm”. Some were hired hands. Others were well-to-do bachelors. All of them vanished without a trace. When their bodies were dug up, they hadn’t merely been poisoned, like victims of other female killers. They’d been butchered.

Hell’s princess is a riveting account of one of the most sensational killing sprees in the annals of American crime: the shocking series of murders committed by the woman who came to be known as Lady Bluebeard. The only definitive book on this notorious case and the first to reveal previously unknown information about its subject, Harold Schechter’s gripping, suspenseful narrative has all the elements of a classic mystery – and all the gruesome twists of a nightmare.


 

That’s it. No need for a review. The Synopsis says it all really.

This spine chilling book leaves you shocked, bewildered and quite honestly wanting more, in fact I could go as far as saying I am obsessed with the tale of Belle Gunness.

I originally heard about this book via The Last Podcast on the Lefts mini series about Belle, where they used Schechter’s book as their reference material. I was shocked by the outcome of this tale which you won’t truly understand until you read the book for yourself or listen to the podcast and utter ‘what the very fuck’ (no spoilers here). The boy’s mentioned that they had only covered the details of Belle’s crimes but the book Hell’s Princess also included details about the court case, so being curious and looking for more answers I decided to purchase the book for myself to see if it would answer any of the many questions I had about this case.

In fact this book included more details then just that, it included how the public reacted once the news of the “murder farm” came to light, how the papers at the time reported the investigation and trial, how evidence was gathered, handled and presented in court and the effects this grizzly tale had on the town of La Porte.

I honestly can’t review Schechter’s work in too much detail here without giving away too much about the case, all I can do is urge you to pick up or find your own copy of Hell’s Princess and give it a read, if you love a good murder mystery or are a fan of true crime then this book is for you!

 

Archive, Gardening, September 2019

Belated Garden Update: August – September

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I’m a little late posting this weeks garden update as back to school chaos and a not so wonderful 24 hour bug hit our home this week, but please know I love writing these posts and documenting what is happening in the garden and how the plants and wildlife are behaving so I will try to keep on top of posting on time.

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Since my last update two weeks ago we have been over took by beans! So all I seem to be doing is picking the runner beans, par-boiling them and then freezing them for the upcoming winter sunday dinners. They are beautiful tasting though, wonderfully sweet and Blue (our dog) absolutely loves munching any leftovers.

I also finally found out what has been chomping away on the vegetables in our makeshift nursery patch. Caterpillars in their dozens of various sizes (including newly hatched) seemed to be enjoying the all you can eat buffet in our little nursery garden. Because my dad doesn’t believe in chemicals (and rightly so) we just sprayed the leaves with warm soapy water to deter the caterpillars and I also moved as many as I could to the top of our compost heap (lid off) so they could munch on something useful instead.

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My parents took me for a trip to the local independent garden centres on bank holiday Monday just gone as well and I bought some new plants! I managed to pick up some leeks and spring cabbages for our winter vegetable patch, an oregano herb to add into my little herb garden which will come in very useful, a beautiful tall white flower which I have planted in the front garden in with our cottage flower patch we have going on and I even found some black tulips to keep my inner goth happy come spring, though I’m not sure how my parents feel about the addition of black flowers to their garden.

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Other then all of this I have mainly spent the past two weeks tidying the flower borders, deadheading and cutting back plants that have come to an end and let me tell you that that is not an easy task! I spent most of one day doing the front garden and back boarders and I felt like I had done a 6 hour session in the gym the next day!

I honestly can’t believe how quickly the weeks are flying over, I’m hoping that all my work deadheading will mean we enjoy the late flowering season a little longer and I can’t wait to get my winter veg transplanted into the vegetable patch.

Gardening, Lifestyle, September 2019

Homemade Rhubarb gin!!

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This year our rhubarb went WILD in the vegetable patch and took over a ridiculous amount of space, to the point that there was no way anyone could eat that much stewed rhubarb or rhubarb crumble so I was at a loss about what to do with all those beautiful red stalks.

After a little googling I learnt you can quite easily make your own rhubarb flavoured vodka or gin which fascinated me. Coming from a house of gin drinkers I went with the latter and I am currently waiting for one litre to infuse in a dark cupboard before testing it out with a good tonic at some point in October.

I followed the BBC Good Food website recipe which I will link here and I used Gordon’s Dry London gin seeing as this is my first time at making this because quite frankly I didn’t want to experiment with a expensive gin on my first try incase it all goes wrong.

I’m not expecting my gin to go the beautiful pink colour like it is photographed on the website as the majority of my rhubarb stalks were green but I will keep you updated as to how the gin turns out in a months time.

Let me know if you have ever attempted to infuse your own spirits and don’t forget to link the recipes you used so I can give them ago myself.