Attempting to make it as a writer

Archive for February, 2012

Tip of the week – Lemons

This is a great tip and just so simple; to keep the lemons really juicy which is particularly important if you are using the juice of a lemon or you want to get the flavour to flow.




As you take your lemon to use just roll it between your hands or better still on a hard surface,  As you roll, you will feel the fruit juicing up.  Cut and enjoy 

Tiggy 
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Battered not Broken

It is so difficult as a mother watching your child hurt themselves.  I now also know that it doesn’t get any easier with time.

I find it so easy to step back and remember the moment when that perfect little bundle was placed in my arms for the first time; all labour pains and that effort just vanished.  They really don’t melt they disappear in such an instant that you don’t even believe they were ever there.

Of course with Middle Son it was never like that; so keen to get here; he arrived a scary shade of blue three weeks early.  I was given a fleeting glance as they rushed him up to the special care baby unit.  Hours later I was permitted to hold him, as Sexy Sporty Dad and I had a photo with him.  I still have the photo somewhere today.  What it doesn’t show in the photo is the oxygen pipe running up my back with Sexy Sporty Dad holding it just over my shoulder, or one side of this tiny bundle carefully tucked close into me with the leads and tubes hidden from view.

That was the day real life took over, splitting away from the safe black and white route of the parental handbook.  I learnt a hard lesson that day; the handbook was fiction.

I am not looking for sympathy; after all Middle Son grew up; albeit with many trials and tribulations along the way, to be a strapping young man.  No less than my first bundle; No 1 Son, who likewise has grown into a sturdy well-built rugby playing young adult. The same bundle that now expects me to stand proudly watching his self destruction and injury induced sport with neutrality and unfeeling.

Having seen No 1 Son through a year of frustration and immense bravery where he had both hips pinned and was away from sport; in particular his beloved rugby for a whole season, each game he plays is special.   Emotions for his parents are heightened to a volcanic pressure of watching, waiting and wishing.    Sexy Sporty Dad who has finally given up coaching the team to concentrate on his triathlon training cannot help but turn his trail past the club timing it to the start of the match.

I have never really been a good spectator of the sport, I watch in order to write a match report on a game where I do not even understand the laws.   Each week I try hard to learn a new expression, this week it was “charge down” and “overlap”.  Regardless of the actual game play these will appear prolifically in the match report.   Having written “Scrum Down” I now have a much better insight into positioning and roles that the team have.  I however am particularly protective of the whole team and get very vocal with annoyance when the other boys all land on top of a green shirt.

I was watching as the tackle happened on Sunday and immediately the hairs prickled in indignation at the audacity to floor my boy.  I held my breath as the maul moved away and he didn’t rise from the pitch.  That was the point the match report was assigned to the never written pile.  As the game moved across to the other side of the pitch I shouted at the coach to notice the man down, unnecessarily

Down but not Out

really as both coaches were thundering on to the pitch together with our fabulous first aider who reached him first.

Have you ever realised that just as you feel the heat of a blush rising through your body, you can actually feel the blood drain from your head down, from your arms back to just keep your heart fluttering.   The pain is physical as if you were the one hit.  The pit of your stomach tenses, releasing sharp daggers of emotion and nausea.    We of course have been here before throughout his rugby career.  He was knocked out during a festival and carted off in an ambulance about 5 years ago, that was the time we concentrated on his head and didn’t realise for weeks he had also broken a finger in the same tackle.  When the crack of ripping back muscles was heard in a training game, they all thought he had broken his neck.  Another four hour stint spent in A&E for his weary parents thankfully turned out to be a treatable tear.

This time he took too long to get up, we could see him moving his hands rubbing his hips.   I could feel the tension radiate from Sexy Sporty Dad as he stood beside me.  My hand crept in through the layers of warm clothing to rest lightly on my mobile.  How many times have I called, guided or liaised with ambulances for other children.

I broke the rules.  The same rules that with any other match I would be expected to enforce, but I went pitch side and waited as they helped No 1 Son to walk off the pitch.   Yes he did walk.  Well it was more a lob sided hobble but the fact he walked meant his hips may not yet be quite as broken as we all feared.  My breathing began to regulate and the blood seeped slowly back to all extremities as I walked beside his shuffling body to the changing rooms.   As I contemplated the quickest route to A&E by road, who should go with him and what to do with the other children, he put on his jumper shuffled back out to watch the match from the subs bench; commenting fiercely and understandably angrily on the outcome.

He joined his friends for the post match meal and Sexy Sporty Dad and I were allowed to finally stamp some authority on the day by refusing to allow him to ref the under 15 girls that afternoon.   He could hardly walk so chasing girls up and down a full size pitch was never going to be a realistic option.  His wonderfully supportive best friend stepped in and offered to ref for him.   Their builds may be poles apart but Stuart, wearing No 1 Son’s somewhat larger than required ref kit officiated a fast and furious match. No 1 Son fitting in and wearing Stuart’s slim line warm coat supported from the sidelines.

I was unimpressed at the ref co-ordinator who should know better than to come and start asking a somewhat still distressed No 1 Son why he was skiving from the match.  His passion for the game is such that he must have been in so much pain and inner turmoil to have allowed us to prevent him being ref that afternoon.

I am delighted to report that a combination (well lots) of  my homeopathic remedy Arnica, a hot bath and lots of rest No 1 son is walking well, his bruising is recovering rapidly though he will not be at training this week.  My boys have heard yet again my mantra “what is wrong with synchronised swimming it surely cannot be as dangerous as rugby.”

Writing :  having finally plucked up the courage to let my novel “memories” out to open critisicm I have now received my first review back

Once I had started reading, I read the whole thing in one day….. very compelling and a real page turner – very good!!  I liked the way that, although I figured out what was going on pretty early, you tossed in a few twists and turns to keep the reader hooked!  On the negative side – one or two slight inaccuracies of details (although only if you have direct experience of the matter and did not affect the overall story)….   overall, I thought it was an excellent story – well researched and well written!

Maybe the next step is to brave it out and send it to some editors, Stay posted.

Tiggy

check out family pizza time at ;  http://tiggy-tea.blogspot.com/

I am not known for my trailblazing fashion sense but I would never go out without my nails looking top notch, grateful thanks to Sarah and Lorraine at the Nail Workshop who not only keep them looking good but also put me in the spotlight  http://thenailworkshop.blogspot.com/   I of course went for Electric Metal Lover.

Pizza Time


We like all families love Pizza but it becomes expensive to take a family of five out to a well known chain and have them cater for all our different tastes. 

Occasionally instead of baking bread for lunch on a Saturday I will make pizza dough and then I can fill it with whatever I wish.  This is not a quick grab it and go like a bought one might be, this takes time especially if like me you make your own pizza dough.  I love the fact that I have control over what goes on and vegetables can be disguised easily for younger selective taste buds.

Ingredients
Pizza base bought or ready made

Tomato sauce – I do cheat here and buy the jars of pizza topping (although you can chop garlic and basil leaves, heat gently and add plum tomatoes till it thickens – cool slightly before adding to pizza base)




You can choose to put anything on top of your pizzas

We had: 

Anchovies / capers / mozzarella / green olives (I didn’t have black) on one half and 
Green peppars (roasted in olive oil and brown sugar)  / mozzarella / slithers of ham / jalapeno peppers on the other half

Sweet corn/  tuna /  cheddar

Spanish Tapas – Serrano Ham / chorizo / Salami / Iberico Cheese / green peppers







The putting together is so easy and a great adventure for a cold wintery half-term morning to get the children to help (especially if you use the pre-prepared pizza base and jar of tomato sauce)

Spread the base with tomato sauce, quite thinly really so as not to lose the other flavours.

Then pick and choose which topping you want.  Add them liberally according to taste.

Add to a hot oven 200°c and let them cook for about 25 – 30 minutes checking regularly especially towards the end.  You will know they are nearly ready when the house fills with the glorious warm aroma enticing you back into the kitchen.

Enjoy

Tiggy

Let me know what different toppings you add to yours.

Enjoy my struggles to become a writer by following ;  Tiggy Hayes

Date for Love

I stepped into the supermarket last weekend to pick up a pint of milk, well 6 pints actually as one pint in our house does not go far.  The first thing to hit me was the huge display of flowers particularly red roses; followed by the rows and rows of funny, rude and soppy cards.  Also tucked into the display were bottles of bubbly, boxes of bonbons and bubble bath to remind even the most unromantic soul that Valentine’s day is just around the corner.

Love Token

I am not expecting much in the way of cards or gifts on the day itself as Sexy Sporty Dad is not the most demonstrative romantic.  In fact when I mentioned we might be away staying with family overnight that day and asked if it would upset any surprise plans he might have, he looked most confused.  He has obviously not been to any shops in the past week as he struggled to follow my train of thought.

Valentine’s Day and the association with lovers may date back to the fourteenth Century and possibly to the writings of Chaucer although who St Valentine actually was is hotly disputed.  Some claim he was a priest or a bishop who married persecuted Christians in secret, which links to the notion he married Roman soldiers against the will of the Roman Army.     Stories also tell of him being one of 14 martyrs killed in Roman Africa or some say he was a Spanish hermit.  Whoever Valentine was he or they have left a legacy of love that remains even today.   Naturally this has been revived more by greedy marketing men than through a real sense of meaning, but it gives us a chance to admit to our feelings when sometimes it is too difficult to say.

What I would question is the tapered feel that the day is all about one person and one solitary date in the diary.  Love to me is a wide ongoing generous emotion open to more than just my husband.  I have three children who also command copious care and devotion.  Coming from a large now extended family all demanding affection and attention, and lucky enough to have a huge circle who need my friendship and fondness, I need bounteous supplies of what we call love to go around.  As any mother with many children will tell you; love is the one commodity that the more you spread the more you have to give.

Being romantic may be a must according to the marketing men and rose growers but youth find it difficult to give and receive this very basic need; love. My boys are about to embark on their own love lives with all the turbulent confusion and emotion this will lead them.  No 1 Son had a long term girlfriend whom he worshipped and spent many hours and money on gifts for her.   One time he cut a rose from one of my plants, just a young bud beginning to bloom which he presented her with in front of the whole street.  The poor embarrassed girl unsure of how to react to the sentiment took the rose home and a few days later dumped him.   They did go back out on and off for 18 months but finally what love there was petered out and he has been left with a severely dented ego and heart.

Middle Son also romantically inclined; struggled to persuade a certain young lady to go out with him, although she did mention to his friends that she was keen.  He spent his whole allowance on an expensive necklace last Valentine’s day.  Too shy to give it to her he persuaded her tutor, against the teacher’s and our advice to hand it to the girl.  By the end of the day Middle son’s romantic gesture was the joke of the whole school.  When the girl came round to accepting his offer to go out, he was still hurting too much from the humiliation to agree and they have not spoken since.

Mini Son having seen the extravagantly generous actions of his big brothers presented his little girlfriend with a bunch of flowers that he too had spent his pocket money on.   We knocked on the door and asked for her, as she appeared he thrust them into her hand with not a word.  Taking them from him she burst out laughing before rushing back inside.

It must be so difficult for children growing up to learn how to express themselves if the sentiments are met with derision and scorn.  Maybe Sexy Sporty Dad has lost his romance after a similar rebuff.  Sometimes he does amaze me by some unexpected gesture so I know there is still a thread of romantic blood left flowing deep within his heart.  I hope my boys pick themselves up from these falls and build on what they too must have buried deep within rather than loose it like their father.     I had better take them all to a card shop before Tuesday and try and guess who their affections are directed at this year, or better still send them with their father.

The language of love has changed from how I remember. I used to send messages to special people, and admit I still do signing it lol but meaning lots of love.  The children now all use this same term but they think it stands for laugh out loud.  I have no problem with laughing quietly or out loud but when I wish to offer my love to some lucky recipient, I do not want them chuckling inappropriately.  I will add a joke or funny comment  or even a smiley face if I want them to laugh.

My love and card will obviously go to one person but to all my children, family, friends and readers I also send lots of love.   My words of love to all I know come from the military wives song “wherever you are my love will keep you safe.”

I also wish to say a sad farewell to Whitney Huston who has died.  Her songs and album have special meaning for Sexy Sporty Dad and I.  It was her tape; we had them in those days, he romantically lent me in order to meet up again when I returned it. We did meet up but I am not sure I ever really returned it, if I dig through the BC box; before children, I guess I may find it.

LOL

Tiggy 

If you want a divine meal to serve him up try the slow roasted lamb from :  http://tiggy-tea.blogspot.com/  not much chance of tete-a-tete as the whole family will want to join in.

 

Slow Roast Lamb



This is great if you are out for the day and want to come back to something tender and succulent.  There is a little bit of effort first thing but then leave to slowly cook and tenderise.   The vegetables also should be cooked and served with as much love.    A great meal to serve if you wish to impress someone.

Ingredients 
Lamb shoulder / leg  Hoggitt or Mutton are better than Spring lamb
Garlic – whole peeled cloves
Rosemary sprigs  lots
Anchovies  – these are the cocktail ones from the jar but plain not with herbs
Red Wine / Flour / oxo cube for the gravy


Don’t worry if you can’t stand anchovies these are in the lamb to add depth of flavour and you will not know or taste they are there.

It was when I was discussing this blog and mentioned in conversation my ingredients that both my mother and husband told me in horror that neither like anchovies.  They do however both adore my slow roast lamb.

Heat up the oven to a high heat while you dress the lamb.

Cut holes in the meat skin, then wrap 1 garlic clove and one small sprig of rosemary in an anchovy, place them in each of the holes.  This could do then with a sprinkling of good rock salt and ground pepper but these are optional.  Any spare rosemary can be lain on top of the joint.

Put into the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes then turn right down to 150° and leave to slow cook for several hours.   Prior to the meal, remove the meat from the oven, transfer to a carving dish and leave to stand.  Save the delicious juices for a gravy. 


If you have a second oven use it now otherwise bump up the heat again to at least  200° to cook the roasties.  Remember par-boiled and shaken in the colander will give them a crispy texture.

Add red wine – a good glug to the juices, mix a little veg water with flour and oxo cube then add to pan juices then reheat.

If like me you are using pampered chef stoneware that cannot go on the hob, stir well and put back in the oven.  Stir often and then serve up with your meat.  It helps clean the dish and leaves the gravy full of flavour.

Serve with all the trimmings including mint sauce, no carving required as the meat falls off the bone and melts in the mouth.


Do give this lamb a try and let me know which vegetables you prefer to serve and how you add taste to these as well.  I use my base flavours of garlic, rosemary and mint to bring the vegetables alive.

Enjoy

Tiggy 


you can also enjoy my writing blog at:  Dawn Chorus



Fighting Felines

My garden is a permanent battle ground for local cats at the moment. I was tolerant but since the demise of Tetley last summer, who had the monopoly on my garden; the neighbourhood moggy population has decided that I am fair game.  Well game on moggies because I am fighting back.

Now don’t get me wrong I am not against pets and realise for many people they can be life enhancing companions.  However they are not for me.  We have two rabbits Magic and her son Smudge whose lives are so boring and non functional that you have to question their raison d’etre.  Once in a while they escape and have a fun packed day in our garden feeding off my herbs and vegetables.   Not unlike Mrs McGregor I threaten to put them in the pot ready stuffed with herbs.

Of course, despite my antipathy towards them I could not serve them up in a stew.  I have eaten and cooked rabbit, as a child helped rear poultry for food and I am happy to coo and admire my sister’s pigs and lambs before buying said meat from her and producing wonderful family meals.  My self sufficiency does not really extend to putting the family pets in the pot whatever havoc they may have wreaked upon my barely budding beans and prolific parsley plants.

We also have Reg; the cockatiel, who is a story in his own right and one day I will embellish liberally on Reg and his exploits.   He thrives on human company having moments of self expression when he sings and talks incessantly.  Thankfully the effort for him is short lived leaving him exhausted and in need of yet another nap.

I have entertained the idea of a puppy in the house on many occasions; it could be a deterrent for the faction of felines defecating in my herb garden.   Three children would be delighted at the arrival of a tiny bundle of mischievous fur with their promises to look after it and walk it, clear up after it etc.    I, generously would give it a week before I was walking it and maybe not that long before I was the one clearing up the little packages left whilst we were asleep or at work.    Not to mention the chewed shoes and ripped clothes left lying around by teenage boys.

I cannot even begin to imagine the attraction of getting up in the rain and snow and embarking on a trek across the fields with nappy sack in hand.   On a particularly cold morning I guess the warmth of the filled nappy sack could potentially have benefits but one I struggle to accept.  When I have my mansion with suitable area of garden for dogs to run and do their business, I may reconsider my feelings towards muts in general.  For now my home and already cluttered life remains resiliently puppy free.

The same cannot be said for cats.   They come in to my garden uninvited and use it as a public meeting place watching the rabbits for signs of escape so they can enjoy a well fed tasty takeaway.   They sit at the conservatory window , their eyes transfixed on Reg, waiting for the door to be left ajar so they can sneak up against his cage salivating.   They use my ornate bath herb garden for their toileting habits and are not in the least bit penitent.

It is time to fight back.  I have finally been driven to the point of insanity and invested in a cat repellent device which I have gleefully

Claiming back the herbs

installed in the bath.   The adverse, although some might see it as positive, effect of this little tool is the deterrent effect it has on teenagers.   The gadget emits a high pitch sonic drone which really seems to bother the ears of my two teenage boys.   Mini Son can hear it but is not agitated by it.  I can hear nothing.

I woke this morning to an ultra low eerie wave of sound, a little like the sweep of the old air raid klaxon but far more futuristic, similar to the continual wave of a Jedi lightsaber.  Realising the device was turned on and in some spooky retribution I was being subjected to punishment I leapt from the covers and ran into the garden to turn it off before the whole family was wakened.

Standing in a cold damp garden in just my nighty and bare feet I found the machine already off and the noise dissipating into the foggy distance.  Was it an alien alerting his amigos, a walker whistling for his disappearing dog or a complex and confusing additional dimension to the dream I was dragged from?  Or maybe the moggies are fighting back. I may never know but I do understand the low sonic wave the boys find annoying and will remember to turn it off when they are around.

Needless to say I have not seen any cats all weekend and even the dogs, whose owners are not so diligent, have failed to leave their little gifts where the children all play.  Even more remarkably there has been a lack of teenagers hanging round the house; so there may be some benefit after all.

It has been a busy week for writing,   I have sent off 6 stories to the Reader’s Digest 100 word story for this year’s competition, hoping to match Middle Son’s success last year at the very least.   100 words is not a lot and the whole story has to pivot round one sharp scene with a twist in the final sentence.   In contrast I am writing a short story on conflict for which I am researching Hindu religious culture and producing some interesting first person prose.  It may end up too long to be a short story but I can’t tell yet if there is enough backfill to make a novel.

I was approached at work a couple of weeks ago to pen a press release.   Delighted with the challenge and recognition I sent off the piece to the local paper and was over the moon when it was published the following week.  I claimed ownership from them to add to my portfolio; you know the ever increasing published and unpaid writing portfolio, people I have worked with for years suddenly found me interesting albeit transitory.

Finally I have launched a new blog.  This has been a long time in the making not because it is difficult but time and events always seem to have delayed its creation. It is a very different type of blog with a few words introducing recipes and comments after to tell how they went down.   I hope people will interact and give advice and comments back so the original recipes become catalysts developing online threads  and experimental menus.  Please take a look and try out the recipes, let me know what you think.  http://tiggy-tea.blogspot.com/

Happy eating I am off to clear out the herb garden and plant fresh for this year so we can actually use the cat free herbs.

Tiggy

 

 

Meatballs





This came about because I wanted to make something the children would enjoy as we were going out for dinner.   It became an instant hit and is now requested whenever  I say we are going out.   It is so quick and easy  that it really is a cheat’s meal that goes down so well.  
    
 Ingredients

A pack of meatballs
Tin of tomato soup
Squeeze of tomato sauce



Tip the meatballs into an oven proof dish, cover with the soup and add a squeeze of tomato sauce.  Stir and add to a pre-heated oven for 25 mins.   

Check a couple of times and just turn the meatballs over.

Serve with pasta and bright vibrant peas or sweetcorn; you have an instant hit.  If using spaghetti run it through the meatballs or tip them into the pan and coat generously with the sauce.

Try it out on your little ones and let me know what they think.

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