Monthly Archives: May 2015

I’d like my crayons back, please.

Love It! It is true to say we are given a pack of crayons when we are very young and then they are taken away to be replaced by the mundane things deemed necessary for our learning and advancement through that which is life!

 However, we all need to be able to soar and fly and reach new heights so yes ” I would like my crayons back,please.”

And learning I am, learning new skills almost every day wether it be how to make ” Sour Dough” or how to ” Track changes on Word” or just “How to.”

Marvelling sometimes at how much this old brain of mine can absorb.

My bestest friend is ” Mr Google ” because if he doesn’t know then it doesn’t exist…well in my world. I’m sure someone, somewhere would disagree with that..but who cares? not me!

And yes that element of being afraid of what people think  seems to have abandoned me and I think  for the best because it brings with it that sense that I can do almost anything if I put my mind to it.

Sky diving NOT being one of my ” I wish I could ” Ha ha….

Today is short story day, very short but a story penned by me as I am finding a penchant for short stories now and again so here goes…… This one is about circumstances and peer pressure.

Kevin.

 

“Why can’t you be like your sister? Look at her school report. Its brilliant. Don’t just stand there like a dummy!  Answer me.”

Kevin had no answer  he  just hung his head wishing the ground would swallow him up.

” Stupid bitch I hate you” he muttered.

“Go to your room and stay there. We are taking Sally shopping.”

Yadda, Yadda, Yadda, Kevin just switched off.  I hate you all he thought. Talk about Miss Goody two shoes what does she ever do wrong? They don’t like my friends, how I dress….nothing!

Kevin’s phone rang.

“Hey Kev,  what’s up?  Wanna come over?”

“Can’t, me old lady she’s grounded me again”

“Oh come on Kev, climb down the drain pipe your old dear will never know.”

Kev thought for a nano second, and then going to the window he shinned down the drain pipe to the ground. Rounding the corner at the end of the street Kevin saw his friends Tom and Stevie coming towards him.

“What’s up Kev?”

“My old man and lady going off on one again. Goody two shoes got another good school report.”

Tom nudged Stevie.

“Come on then Kev lets show them. I know an old dear who doesn’t  lock her door.”

Kevin followed them.

Don’t normally write about peer pressure but been a lot in the news lately.

Love you all.. more recipes in my next blog, the Beef Rendang was amazing and Gin & Tonic Cake  is my next to do  cook, doing boring things at the moment like cooking more beetroot to pickle..they keep eating it.

 

Until next time bye for now xxxx

 

Exciting! My first Guest Blogger!

Introducing the amazing Clara Wiggins.

Clara Wiggins

Clara has agreed to be my first guest blogger and I am sure you will love her book. Born the daughter of British Diplomats, Clara has travelled the world all her life and now she is married with two beautiful little ones and a husband who also has overseas postings her story continues and her book aims to help others who find themselves in foreign climes and maybe unsure of their next steps.

Rather than do the often favoured question and answer I am just going to let Clara tell her story, which I am sure you will enjoy.

Writing the Expat Partner’s Survival Guide: a labour of love laced with sweat and tears

A few years ago, living on a stunning tropical island surrounded by gentle sea, dazzling sands and verdant vegetation, I had an idea for a book. Beautiful though the surroundings were, it wasn’t these things that inspired me. Rather, it was some of the people I met on that beautiful island, people who should have been happy living in such a paradise, but people who weren’t happy. Why weren’t they happy? Of course the reasons will be many and varied – but one of the reasons was because they hadn’t been at all prepared for what their lives would be like.

And so the Expat Partner’s Survival Guide was born.

I can’t claim to be the world’s expert on this subject – after all, I have so far only been on two overseas postings as a partner, and one of those was cut very short (we were forced to leave Islamabad after just three months following the Marriott bombing of 2008). But my expat experience didn’t start with my time as a “trailing spouse” – it goes back years. And, if you believe that we have a “travelling gene”, you could say it goes back a lot longer than that: I am the daughter of British diplomats and my grandfather and great-grandfather were both officers in the Colonial service and served in Asia and Africa. So whilst the emphasis is on moving overseas as the accompanying spouse, I was able to bring years of expertise as an expat to the writing.

However, I can’t take all the credit for the contents of the book as I was helped by more than 75 other expat partners, from all corners of the globe. It took me a while to find them but once I did, I gathered huge amounts of advice, information, tips and anecdotes from a group of spouses who between them must have had hundreds of years of experience of accompanying their partners abroad.

So between myself and my contributors (which includes my own mother), I had plenty of material for the book. I knew what I wanted to say, I understood what was needed from my own experiences. Now I just needed to write it.

This was, in many ways, the easy part. I am a trained journalist and have never had a problem with writing things down. Working on daily newspapers, you sometimes had minutes to write a full-page story – so I can hammer out 250 words as quickly as it takes most people to make a cup of tea. But the writing bit was just a small part of the production process: as well as the networking and the research, I also needed to organise it into some sort of coherent order. This took a bit longer and involved a lot of highlighter pens, as well as a few spells at a writer’s retreat where I could lock myself away from the world and concentrate purely on the book. But I got there in the end and the first draft was finished.

As all writers know, this is still a long way from being the end. I read and re-read, fiddled and re-wrote. I added a last-minute chapter on relationships. And then, finally, I decided it was time to send it to my editor.

Earlier in the process of writing the book, I had sent a few submissions off to publishers. I did receive replies and those that said anything about the book at all were all very positive. But the view was that it was too niche. There wasn’t a market for it. Or if there was, it wasn’t a market traditional publishers understood well enough to know how to reach. I decided to go it alone and started reading up on what I would need to do. Two things stood out as absolutely essential if I wanted my book to be taken seriously: get it edited professionally, and get the book cover designed professionally. A marketing-your-self-published-book course also told me that I needed to think about the marketing, very seriously, long before the book was finished.

With all this in mind, I found an editor and sent it off and at the same time started a blog. With a platform, I was now in a better position to start guest-blogging, commenting, contributing to other posts and pages, just to get my name out there. It’s an ongoing campaign and I know there is a long way to go but I have been delighted with the response I have had to my blog posts. I have also thoroughly enjoyed the interaction I get with other bloggers – I just wish I had more time to spend on it!

So the book came back from the editor and for the first time, thanks to his amazingly positive comments, I was confident about putting it “out there”. I made some changes based on his assessment of the book, put it through a professional proof-reader and then did a bit more reading, re-reading, repeat…

Eventually though you do need to stop. It’s not easy as I think I could have kept on adding to the book for years. Since starting the blog, in particular, I have had more and more ideas and suggestions about the expat partner life. But had I not stopped when I did I would have run into time trouble as my focus on the next few months has to be on our impending move to South Africa.

So I sat down to add the finishing touches. This included formatting; however, I quickly realised this was another area I really was going to need some help with and once again called in the professionals. By now I had quite a team – which makes me realise that although it is called “self” publishing, you do need to rely on other people if you want to deliver a quality product.

The book went to and fro with the formatter a few times as I received the proof, sent in some more changes, waited for it to come back again….and then, finally, I decided it was done. I set a date, loaded it up onto Amazon and Smashwords with a publication day for the e-book editions and then waited as it went online as it became available as a paperback.

And so the big day arrived: launch day. I had been sending out teasers to my followers over the few weeks before publication: unveiling the cover design, a picture of the proof copy, updates as to when it would be ready etc. Then on the day itself I simply uploaded a post onto my blog to announce that the book was out, copied it onto Facebook and Twitter and pressed go.

I was overwhelmed with shares and tweets, likes and comments. It was very exciting. The sales started to come through (it takes a while for them to register on Amazon sometimes so it’s hard to know exactly when people have bought one) and I saw that my announcement post, plus the Buy the Book page on my blog, had been shared more than 300 times on Facebook.

Of course this didn’t translate directly into sales – one of the things that I have learned over the last month since I released the book is how hard it is to convert interest in the book into hard sales. It is frustrating when I see that someone has been on the Buy the Book page but not actually bought it. I know there is a lot of interest but it’s a tough market out there.

However, my sales are rising and I now have 11 lovely reviews on Amazon (two on Amazon.com and nine on Amazon.co.uk – every one of my reviews is five star). I see this very much as a word-of-mouth book so I sincerely hope that as people read it, they tell others about it. I really believe that the book can help people, and feedback so far from those who have read it suggests that it will.

It’s early days yet and the book is still establishing itself but I continue to believe in it as a product. Marketing it could be a full-time job but I simply don’t have the time for that, which is one of the more frustrating things about publishing. However, hopefully there will come a time when it is known enough to promote itself. In the meantime, I continue to enjoy writing guest posts like this one, as well as adding more of my thoughts ,views and experiences about expat life to my blog. And every day I continue to log onto my dashboard to see whether anyone has bought my book. I celebrate every sale – but I also hope that every sale means one more expat partner who will have an easier time of it when they do move abroad.

Born overseas to British diplomats, Clara Wiggins has travelled on and off all her life. This has included living in the Philippines, Nigeria and Venezuela as a child, and living and working in New Zealand and Jamaica as an adult. More recently, she and her two daughters Clara and girls have accompanied her husband on postings to Pakistan, St Lucia and will be moving to South Africa this summer. Clara is the author of the Expat Partner’s Survival Guide, a light-hearted but supportive guide which draws on the expert advice of more than 70 expat partners who have been there, done that and survived to tell their tales. You can find out more about Clara and her bookClara's book on her blog site: http://expatpartnersurvival.com/. The book is available to buy in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

Thank You  Clara for being my guest blogger on https://blondieaka.wordpress.com I hope you sell many copies of your book and I will look forward to reading it as an expat myself xx

Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ” I’m possible!………Audrey Hepburn.

That’s true, so chins up and onward we go! And my what I never thought I would do was?????? With the help of a Mojito or 2…… absolutely out of my comfort zone and…….

Amazing ! What Fun! went to Improv last night and it was brilliant..I recommend anyone to try it..amazing time ..still buzzing..and if you don’t know what it is, its short sketches e.g someone picks a page number in a book.You pick the part you are playing. One person says a sentence anything whatever they are thinking and you reply exactly what is written down( but they don’t know what your script is they are just doing their own impromptu of the top of your head ..get it ? such fun…. wow what a night.

Anyways….

I have decided that I am going to do more cooking or more experimenting. In other words gonna try to make at least one new dish untried by us every week.

Also I will have a guest blogger next time Clara Wiggins who has written an amazing book for expats with lots of hints and tips. So watch this space and you will meet Clara next time……

Curry Plant seedlings..yipee.. thanks to a very kind gentleman who just requested a picture of my curry when I make it. There are some nice people left in this world. They are growing well and making new little leaves..exciting cos green fingered I am not really…

Have been busy pickling away and have pickled cucumbers, beetroot and shallots and although the recommended time to allow those flavours to develop is at least 3 weeks not in this house it’s not! I will need to pickle some more shallots very soon.

Anyway back to cooking:

Today it was stuffed Apple and Cranberry Pork and it was amazing..so here we go the recipe for you guys.

The recipe was featured on Ema Jones blog, Food 4 Your Mood and very tasty it was. Thank you Ema for sharing it got the thumbs up in this house. My pics aren’t as good as Ema’s but I try.

SAM_6901

Rub for the Pork Loin.

4 lbs Pork Loin,

Bacon ( enough to cover Pork Loin)

Salt & Pepper to taste,

1 tablespoon Olive Oil,

2 finely chopped Garlic Cloves,

1 tablespoon chopped Thyme,

1 tablespoon chopped Rosemary..

Cut a pocket through one end of the tenderloin. Place the centrist downwards. Don’t slice through the other end. Season in and out properly with salt and pepper.

Mix together above ingredients and rub into pork loin ,cover and put in the fridge for an hour.

SAM_6891

While the Pork is absorbing all those lovely flavours prepare the stuffing mix.

For stuffing Pork Loin.

Half cup Vinegar,

1/4 teaspoon salt,

2 small diced red onions,

Olive oil as required,

1/2 bottle Lager Beer,

3/4 cup Brown sugar,

1 teaspoon Cinnamon,

tbsp chopped ginger,

2/3 cup dried cranberries,

1 teaspoon Mustard Seed,

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves,

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper,

4 peeled and chopped Granny Smith Apples.

Method:

Finely chop Red Onions and cook in Olive oil until soft.

SAM_6892

Add Apples and ginger, stir and cook for 5 mins.

Add remainder of ingredients stir to combine and simmer gently until mixture thickens and reduces.

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Cool slightly before stuffing loin.

Stuffing the Loin was quite messy so I think next time I make this I will use one of the small round plastic refill sauce bottles the ones you buy to take on picnics. The top when unscrewed is quite wide so stuffing mix should go in,  do not replace lid and insert into split and hopefully it should squirt down without too much mess. Well that’s what I am going to try.

Stuff loin and then cover with bacon slices.Put tin foil on top as bacon cooks very quickly and remove foil about ten mins from end cooking to brown bacon. Rest loin or 10 mins before carving.

SAM_6896Rest, carve and serve we made the gravy from the meat juices and pork stock and it was lovely. Served with vegetables and crispy roast potatoes..mmmmm.

So next time it will be Beef Rendang which is an amazing Indonesian dish  and Clara Wiggins as My first guest blogger yehhhh!!!!

Have a lovely day love you all xx

Wow ……What a Week….Part Two!

Awwwwww and who doesn’t love babies?  And isn’t she beautiful?

Welcome to the world Charlotte Elizabeth Diane Princess of Cambridge. Will she be known as Princess Charlie??? Whatever I’m sure she will have a charmed upbringing and as normal a one as possible I am guessing given the circumstances of her birth but also given her Parentage….May god bless you always. Charlotte

Followed by the General Election in Britain… 2 days to go……well if I was going to vote and I have always voted the same, I think even me..yes folks me…I  would be seriously looking at all the parties this time and what offers they had on the table…..personally I think we should have the best of all party’s and industry to govern, I don’t think any one party totally fits the bill and in all honesty ..today it’s such a major task to take on you need the best in their fields as your army.So good Luck everyone…vote wisely and do vote as it’s very important.

And come back William Hague I have always liked him and think the first time round he wasn’t ready. I have followed him since…no I’m not a stalker..but think the time is right for him. My opinion folks.

Now a plug for my friend and mentors new novel ” Deep Deceit ” please help her get back into the top 50 it is a great holiday read and will take you to Dubai and all the mystery’s and twists that we all love in a novel. And shhhhhhhh but don’t tell anyone but you will be able to get a FREE Download on 9th and 10th May which is Mothers Day weekend  and here is the link   http://amzn.to/1zZrxEU so enjoy and Happy Reading!Deep Deceit

AND my rant is I still haven’t got my curry seedlings ,Post office not open till tomoz and “carded ” be beggared …Gonna be knocking on their door first thing….. anyone wish to be a fly on the proverbial wall????????? This is one seriously fed up ex.pat I just want my POST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rant Over 🙂

Hope you enjoyed part two and my rants and ramblings so lots of little recipes next time as I have been busy pickling Beetroot yesterday and Onions today love you all xxx

Wow what a week!

Well where to start……the nest has eggs in it once again and mummy is busy keeping them warm she only leaves when she is hungry and the other day when the heavens opened bless her she sat, she was soaked but she sat on those little eggs.

You could also hear a pin drop…hark! shhhhhhhhh it’s so quiet.

Everyone is away visiting nannies,brothers and mum’s oh and the dreaded visa run…..

So what have I been doing?????

Oh it’s been a hive of activity, courtesy of my Indonesian friend she gave a cooking lesson on how to make Beef Rendang and it’s quite preparation heavy but so worth it and I left with not only …a sample and the recipe but leaves ( turmeric) for when I attempt mine and hints and tips galore..thank you Mamik.

And of course I will share with you.

I have a lovely Pork Loin brining away and it will be ready by Wednesday for my Majong buddies to sample.

Had a glut of Cucumbers so they are now sliced and packed into jars and nearly ready to eat.

SAM_6880………….I used 4 cucumbers ( they are short ones here) not long like in Uk . Peel and slice ( I sliced quite thickly) 1 Large Onion peeled and sliced, 3 cups vinegar, I cup water, 1/4- 1/2 cup sugar or spendida sweetener( I only used just under quarter cup and salt to season if required. Whisk together in jug.Put alternate slices of cucumber and onion in jar until full , pour in vinegar mix to top of jar making sure to cover completely. Screw on lid and refrigerate . Ready to eat in 2 days if you can resist we often can’t.

My lovely neighbour came bearing gifts of Mangoes so they have been duly pureed and in the freezer..would have been Ice Cream cos I came across a lovely recipe for mango ice cream with sea salt and chilli..yum! I was drooling..short lived.. when I read further down the said recipe I need an Ice Cream Machine and guess who doesn’t have one?

Well trawled the second-hand sites as a lot of people only live here a short while and then sell practically new goods before they move on…..and lo and behold I found one but didn’t want the freezer that went with it…or do I..more storage for my cooking……mmmmmm the jury’s out on that one…..

But I need a new camera more? Do I ? mmmmmm Ice cream plus freezer or Camera?

And of course I have been working on my novel and trying to master that pesky Scrivener..it will not beat me….. I think if I keep telling myself that often enough I will be a master at it before I can say BOO!

Oh and I was also sent a recipe by a dear Swiss friend for ” Suure Mocke ” , or Sauerbraten, marinated Beef a family recipe so I will try it and pass it on to you my friends…sounds good, the Beef is marinated for 5 days in the vino..yes 5 days folks..sound yum or  sound yummy???

So all in all it’s been a week of learning and experimenting for me I love it.

Well I hope you have enjoyed my ramblings I am now off to see if I can locate my Curry Seedlings that some nice man has sent me …when tracking it said ” out for delivery” address not recognised, carded..now does that mean they left a card? if so where?  if address not recognised?…mmmmm no wonder the birds nest in my post box cos the postman sure does not use it grrrrrrrrrrr..as we say TIT ( This is Thailand) Wish me luck!

Enjoy until next time happy reading and have fun x