Tuesday, 21 February 2012


I am going through a rather busy time in my life and every day seems to be filled with new ideas and inspiration for reinventing my living space as well as new opportunities to improve my Arabic culinary skills. I have a great admiration for Arabic cooking as it is really quite easy to do and the results both look and taste impressive. My extended family here and I share a love of getting together to cook and enjoy a meal together regularly. One of my personal favourites is breakfasts at my mum in laws as we always have a full spread. Flat breads which are warmed on the gas stove, lebannah (a thick yogurt eaten with the flat bread and extra virgin olive oil), hummus, chopped tomatoes and cucumber and wonderful steaming black tea served in beautiful glass cups with mint or marjoram (I have posted a fantastic and easy recipe for my family in laws mint/ marjoram tea bellow). Sometimes there are free range eggs from the farm or slow cooked tomatoes with extra virgin olive oil and chili which warms the cockles on a winters day. And our mid-morning Arabic coffee which has the consistency and strength of espresso but the added bonus of an extra aromatic after taste that reminds you of its origins.

Mint / Marjoram Tea recipe

Ingredients
Lipton tea bags (the amount depends on the size of your tea pot- large pots would need 3-4 bags and small 1-2)
a stainless steel teapot
fresh mint leaves or marjoram ( with the marjoram we use dried leaves)
decorative glasses for serving ( its amazing how satisfying it can be to drink tea from a glass)
sugar to taste

Method

  1. First place the tea bags and mint or marjoram leaves in the teapot and fill with boiling water.
  2. Then place on your stove and boil for about 3-4 minutes (which is why you need a stainless steel pot)
  3. Let your pot of tea rest for about 5 minutes before serving.
  4.  If you are making mint tea put a few mint leaves into your glasses along with your preferred amount of sugar.
  5. Pour your tea, stir and enjoy.
  6. A refreshing alternative to the hot mint tea would be to make it as normal and then let it cool and add ice cubes for an iced mint tea during the summer months.

This is my front door

Here in Jordan, as a pose to England the housework is comparatively more physical as there is more dust and sand about it almost feels like I am getting an aerobic work out when I tidy up (especially as I like to get my jobs done quickly. I love the satisfaction I feel when the chores are done for the day and I can relax with a well deserved cuppa. Its really great when, after my work is done and when my son has an afternoon nap I can have a quick crafty session and make something new for my home.
Like these cutlery and utensil pots I made for my kitchen using  empty baby cereal tubs and recycled yarn from some second-hand jumpers which were given to me recently. This small project is good for two reasons -
  1. You are reducing your rubbish by recycling some packaging and yarn.
  2. You are creatively producing something unique to your home which is also useful.
Crochet Cutlery Pots (using UK crochet terms)

You need-
  • empty baby cereal tubs or any tubs which are the same width at the bottom as the top.
  • yarn (the colour  is down to your preference- in my case I was matching it with a peach, brown and beige kitchen)
  • crochet needle size 4mm
  • wool needle scissors
  1. Make s foundation chain to fit the base of your container plus 3 for turning.
  2. Make your first row in triples and join at the end with a slip stitch. Fasten off yarn.
  3. Either follow the wavy stripe pattern or the alternate which is (Tie a new colour ch2 and double crochet around end with a slip stitch and fasten off yarn
  4. For continuous irregular straight stripes rep lines 2 and 3 and rep to desired depth, for  the wavy stripe follow lines 2,5 and 6 to desired depth and finish. Weave ends into the wrong side of the material. stretch over the container add utensils and use!!!
Wavy stripe
5.    Tie in a new colour and slip stitch 2 times then (dc,dc, trc, trc, dc, dc sl, sl) to end making sure you have an even wave. Fasten off your yarn.

6.  Tie new colour ch3 and triple crochet around before sl st to finish and fasten off yarn.


You could cover the whole pot in waves or opt for lots of straight stripes. You could even mix both like I did for an unusual look!!!! So give it a try. As this is my first attempt at writing a pattern would love it if you tried it out and posted me a comment below with a pic of your finished pot . This pattern is so versatile you don't have to use your finished pot just for the kitchen you could use one as a pen pot or a vase for a dried flower display. The ideas are as limitless as your imagination !!!!!!!
:)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

Saturday, 18 February 2012

House cleaning day

Today was my big clean of the week so the whole house got tidied and reorganised. I don't mind cleaning and laundry days as I put on some music, make a list and tick things off as I go along which is quite satisfying. The best part is when I have finished my work in the evening , grab a huge cup of tea and my latest knitting or crochet project and sink comfortably into my sofa for an hour or so before I go to sleep.
Here are a few tricks I use round the house when cleaning to make the environment fresh and clean.


  1. The first thing I do when I start cleaning is open the windows or about half an hour and let the fresh air get into the house.
  2. You can make a home made air freshener using aromatherapy oils diluted in water in a spray container and avoid all the chemical based fragrances.
  3. Burn candles and or incense which not only clears the air it also lifts the mood.
  4. I like to rub small amounts of essential oil into my light bulbs. Mind you this is a small amount I use and using a tissue when the light is off. But afterwards when you switch the light on you will get a lovely burst of fragrance as the oils evaporate.
  5. Using old newspapers to polish glass and mirror surfaces is an amazing recycling use for old papers and surprisingly really gives a good finish.
  6. Adding fresh flowers or green plants to you home environment virtually instantly revitalises the space.
Give it a try and tell me about your own tips for cleaning, refreshing and de-cluttering your nest!!!! and post it to me in the comments below :))))))))))))))

Friday, 17 February 2012

Dreaming in the rain


Am awake late listening to the heavy rain and hail outside. The weather reports suggest we may even get some snow through the night which is going to look strange (I think) here in Jordan. Camels and snow are not two things I ever imagined seeing together before! but it reminds me of how living here things never fail to surprise and fill me with wonder. At this time of the year the temperature is almost the same as the UK  which is a nice relief from the heat of the summer. It also makes me feel as though the world is that little bit smaller -and this makes me smile to feel closer to my UK family (my dear mum and dad).

AAAACHHHHEEWWWW!!!!!!!!!!


BB Zak and me have both been under the weather this week. I have a terrible cold and my poor son is teething and has also gotten saddled with the sniffles. So I am getting plenty of vitamin c into my diet and drinking plenty of water to flush away the cold. Zak is needing a lot of TLC at the moment poor little chappy. I hope all his teeth come fast so he gets it over with soon!!!I am really happy his appetite has not been affected by the cold and teething which is a blessing. Mind you some people say that the illnesses children get (colds, coughs, measles etc) help make their immune systems stronger as adults. So maybe there is a positive side to this!
Reflecting on home remedies I love the idea that you can, in essence do the job of more expensive chemical based remedies using ingredients already in your home. Like for example a steam inhaler using heat lotion a bowl of boiling water and a towel ( something I may well do later using a chemical free version with Aloe vera, apricot kernel oil and eucalyptus oil). Its better than chemicals, in the majority of cases at the very least you feel better and its free. What could be better. So today if you have any tried and tested remedies for colds and flu please leave your suggestions in the comments bellow. I am curious to see what your family remedies are.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Woods

This is one of my favourite places in the world- the woodland which is on my parents doorstep. This is the woodland I grew up with, the place which has always been a safe haven for me in times when I needed space and clarity in my life. These are the woods Alison Utterly ( children's book writer) walked through to get to school so they have a Romanticism for me. Not to mention all the times my parents and I hiked through them. My dad usually gave in half way round and I hitch-hiked a piggyback whilst being entertained by his fantastic renditions of the wind in the willows. Mind you usually my dad was simply a puppet as I always directed the stories and he narrated (I remember they all went to the US in one story lol- so no resemblance to the real story of  the wind in the willows, merely the characters).  The woods are incredibly magical for me as the wildlife that lives there is quite tame and every time I have been there the tranquillity rejuvenates me.
I think its important to have a green space to go to when you need to get some clarity. Indeed the colour green is amazing for its rejuvenating propertys. So today I encourage you to go outside and connect with nature. Go smell a few flowers or (one of my favourites - ) grass after a rain storm. Appreciation for the world around you as well as the people is so important for our hearts (continuing this months valentine/ heart theme)
And if you can't get to aanywhere green visualise it. I do this every day as I am currently living in a desert country. So when I need to go to a calm quiet place I think about my woods back in the UK , during a rain storm and imagine the smell of the wet trees and the drip drip of the water falling from the leaves where its collecting. I imagine going for a walk with my mum and her dog on one afternoon and discussing the things I need clarity with and I always feel better after. So why not give it a try!!!!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

        
                      Happy Valentines Day

What a great excuse to make someone you love feel appreciated and extra special. Plus I think there is a specific type of happiness to be gained from watching someone you cherish opening a gift you gave them. . Today I am posting a global valentine to all races, all religions, all colours, all countries that I think we should all unit on valentines day, not simply for romantic reasons but to love and respect each other as fellow human beings as on some level we are all like a global family. Wouldn't it be great if the peace so many dream of started with valentines day. And that on this day all over the world people put aside their differences and arguments and respect, understanding and gentleness ruled over judgement and discrimination. Maybe I'm an idealist, maybe a dreamer but I'm not the only one , I hope some day you'll join us, and the world will live as one. OK maybe slightly cheesy but the message rings true to this post. So happy valentines day have a wonderful day - make someone you love feel fantastic TODAY!!!!!!!(don't wait do it today!!!!!)

Monday, 13 February 2012

The clock in my parents in laws home (I love the beautiful calligraphy on it)

I have done some furniture rearranging today as the side of my son's cot is broken. I took the broken side off added a new cussion and covered it in a blanket and voila !!!! a little sofa chair for me (which I tried out yesterday - while watching a movie and crocheting a cutlery pot for the kitchen with a nice cup of tea, ahhh heaven!!!!) I love the idea of constantly reinventing the space you live in as it keeps your environment fresh. And the beauty of it is you don't have to have a huge budget to do it. This year I have pledged to reduce the amount of waste I throw out and reuse as much as I can. And so I am planning to make all my new decor for my home using recycled materials and second hand- handmedown pieces.

My Challenge to YOU for this year is to reuse as much of the things you normally throw away as you can and - save money (during this world recession), be creative ( which has soo many reasons why I could write a book about it ), Get that feel good factor (its something you created rather than taking the easy route and making your room a photo copy of everyone Else's,) and reduce your carbon footprint. Its an amazing thing to do !!!!. Remember If everyone makes a small change together we can have a huge impact as a collective- just as one small bee cannot make a hive of honey but many together in unison can produce a whole pot!!!!!!!

Friday, 10 February 2012

Happy valentines month

Valentine heart tutorial

This tutorial, as with all the tutorials I will post is a basic idea which can be used in so many ways. I apologise for the photos but I have not got a camera at the moment and am taking my pictures with my mobile. This little heart project is good if you want to give an understated present to someone special. You could sew on a key chain and attach it to your car keys, fill them with lavender instead of stuffing, make two small hearts and make funky earrings. The list is endless BUT!!!!! the most important thing is to use your imagination . So lets get started!!!!!

Materials

fabric (anything you like ,I used a piece of scrap fabric this time)
thread
a needle
ribbon, buttons, finishing touches
a fabric pen, pencil 
polyester filling  
  1. cut two squares out of the fabric approx the same size. Turn the material right sides inwards and pin together. Then draw a heart.



2. Sew around the drawn heart leaving a gap (I find that at the top right or left side are good places to leave a gap). Double stitch the final few stitches to strengthen it when you turn it the right way and leave the threaded needle still attached.



3. Turn the heart the right way and stuff with polyester filling.Decorate and your finished !!!!!



This one I am going to give to hang on my wardrobe door, see below the finished heart .
Go on let your creative flame burn bright !!!!!!!!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Turtle love


Last weekend my husband bought some lovely fish and two turtles for our home. My son is totally in love with them. I managed to get a reasonable photo of one of the turtles so thought I'd post it. We are having to be careful with the turtles as one got out the fish tank on its first night here and I found it waddling across my red Ikea rug in the livingroom. The little fellow had a lot of determination which I admired. All the same he's safer in his tank than out lol!!!
The spring cleaning is going really well at the moment ; the only downside is that the list of jobs is so large the end still seems a long way away. But ever the optimist I am getting on with it lol. I like to do a big spring clean every year and reorganise my home. Sort my clothes and put those things I no longer use into a pile. Then either use the material for projects, hand over to a sister in law who likes it more than me or  (if its really not usable anymore) remove the fastens, buttons etc and make dish cloths with it. I am going to attempt to make some window cleaner from the natural ingredients I have in my kitchen so wish me luck . Will tell you how I did :)))




Sunday, 5 February 2012

Sunny day


Its been a wonderful day for drying washing outside and a promise of the spring which made me eager to clean out the clutter in my home. Flinging open the windows banishing the cobwebs and giving a warm welcome to a cloud free day. Everywhere was looking especially green as we have had a lot of rain this winter. This week will be full of re-organising draws and cupboards, cleaning rooms and collecting unwanted things to hand on to my family in law or finally recycle into dish cloths. My head is filled with ideas for my home so am going to have to write them down quick as they come or I might miss a really good refashion idea or a green project. And that reminds me must repot my garlic plant as its got soo big. Anyway got to go iron some shirts. Cheerio !!!!!!!!

Saturday, 4 February 2012


Just wanted to officially welcome in February by presenting my lovely husband with this cute and cuddly heart . I am going to hopefully make a batch of hearts for my sisters in law and I will embroider a characteristic I admire on each. I think to have a small reminder that someone recognises your strength is really good especially on those days when the list of undone jobs seems like mount everest.

I am going to start spring cleaning the house this week in an effort to get it completely clean and organised for the new year. Plus going through my old baby clothes etc is good for two reasons - 1. It will give me more space and 2. one of my sister in laws is expecting a baby boy in a couple of months so want to hand down a big case to her. I managed to find the crochet hooks which were as usual right under my nose. Isn't  it funny how when we are young and loose things its because we are carefree and rebellious but the older we get the more we account for miss placing things by saying we are getting on and our memories aren't what they used to be. I personally would like to see people over 30 who loose things about their homes referring to themselves as maturer so wiser but that this wisdom has lead them to a new effortless relaxation about organisation.  After all who wants to get all hot and sweaty searching for that one thing when you could just calmly ask god for a little assistance and make a cup of tea. I think I am an idealist at heart who still hopes to see children say please and thank you and parents playing a teacher learner role. A kind of idealism where you still have men getting up to give their seat to an elderly person on the tube or someone making a random act of kindness just because.
So I would like to challenge everyone who reads this blog to make someone smile today! Doesn't matter who - a neighbour, your granny, a dear friend . Because there is nothing in the world like making someones day a little brighter!!!!!!!

Friday, 3 February 2012


Had a family day today which was lovely. My extended family came to my parents in laws home and we cooked a huge meal of Mansaf- which is mutton slow cooked in yogurt and served on a bed of rice and wafer thin bread.I assure you despite the strange description it is one of the most Moorish dinners ever. Lots of my nieces and nephews running about like headless chicken playing which was great as I love it when the house is full of laughter.
Oh by the way for all people wondering why all the family's at home on a Friday - in Jordan  the weekend starts on Thursday so in essence Thursday is like Friday and Fridays like Saturday. On the positive the weekend starts early but unfortunately the down side is its back to work on Sunday lol. Anyway this afternoon am sorting my wool stash out and wondering where my crochet needles got to (as things tend to loose themselves quite easily while I am busy tidying or trying to find something else- being brutally honest ) . My father in law bought us a beautiful fish tank with some tropical fish in today and some second hand jumpers to take apart and use the wool so a bit like an early birthday. Plus my son really loves the fish!!!!!!

It has been really cold here this week with plenty of rain and am starting to feel like I am back in England . So all the jumpers are coming out not to mention jackets. The idea behind my look being how many layers can I get away with wearing without looking like a bag lady. I think I am going to have a quiet night in with my comfy pjs, a cup of tea, a good TV program and my wool!!!!!!!!!!