makar [ˈmækər]
n (Literature / Poetry) Scot a creative artist, esp a poet
[a Scot variant of maker]

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I have some big things to write about - a miscarriage, a child undergoing surgery for a badly broken arm, moving house - but I don't know what to say about these yet, so I will let them rest and see what happens. I don't feel like doing a lot of things at the moment. I'm not really enjoying cooking and I have lost the compulsion to make art. I'm writing in little scrappy outbursts, but what I write, I like. There's a precision and ferocity to it. I think I am ready to start working on something new.

I don't feel as quick as I normally do. It's as if the world is moving at a pace that I can't match. I worry that I am missing details. I am reading slowly but with pleasure. My favourite time is at the end of the day, when I snuggle into bed with my daughter and read one or two chapters to her. The book we are reading together is far more exciting than the one I am reading on my own! I know this is a tough time and that it will pass. I'm fed up of the rain, of cold fingers, and no energy. I would like some spring sunshine and a new place to explore.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

I have a new obsession - printmaking - and it's been keeping me busy in the evenings (and making me stay up way too late). There's something about making with my hands that just opens up the mind and fuels my creativity and enthusiasm for life. Since I've started making visual art more frequently, my writing has felt so much more joyful. It is still REALLY hard work, but I'm not at war with the second draft of my novel in the same way I was a month ago. I had a realisation the other day, while riding on the bus (this is where I have most of my epiphanies; the other place is in the shower!). Writing a first draft is a bit like falling in love: exhilarating, intense, unpredictable and consuming. Writing the second draft is when the passion cools a little and you have to focus on the details in order to figure out the logistics of your relationship. This is the tough part, when the real work begins...

Monday, April 25, 2016

Oh dear old blog, I've not had much time for you lately. I've been doing a lot of thinking and soul-searching, a little drawing and painting, and not very much writing at all. The school holidays didn't help and neither did the sinus infection, but here I am. Last term, I had some trouble focusing on editing my novel - I kept picturing it as this big mass of slime that I was desperately try to wrestle into some kind of contained and recognizable form. It seemed an impossible task. When a friend asked if I could help in her ceramics studio, I jumped at the chance. Not only did it sound like a great way to spend a few days, but it meant that I could avoid the gargantuan task of editing my novel. I enjoyed those days SO much, and I'm hoping to have more "making days" to break away from the intensity of staring at words on a screen. I am overflowing with ideas and plans - it is a very nice way to be. Long may it last!

Monday, April 4, 2016

I've been meaning to write a post about hummus for a while...Yes, really. I love hummus, in fact, I am a little obsessed with it. I used to buy tubs of it and eat it while sitting on the sofa and drinking cheap white wine. Then I started making my own and now those tubs of gloopy beige stuff seem pretty gross. We eat it all the time and my two big kids can make it by themselves (with a few prompts), while the youngest LOVES blitzing it with the stick blender. Anyway, I have been perfecting the recipe and this is the one we have settled on:

2 cans of chickpeas (or 1 can of chickpeas & 1 can of cannellini beans for a smoother blend)
1 crushed garlic clove
6 tablespoons of olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons of tahini (or peanut butter)
1 teaspoons of salt

Drain and rinse the chickpeas and beans, then combine with the other ingredients, and blitz until smooth. You can add a teaspoon of cumin for extra flavour (my kids aren't keen, but it is delicious) and a couple of tablespoons of plain yogurt for a creamier texture.

In Israel, there's a Church of Chickpea. It sounds wonderful. One day, I hope to visit...

Sunday, March 13, 2016

This is something I wrote recently for a new mother. I thought I'd share it here too:

Notes on Motherhood

1. Embrace imperfection

2. Pace yourself; it is a marathon! 

3. Be wary of blogs written by women who home-school their 5 children, grow their own food, keep goats, sew all their clothes & own a spinning wheel... They will make you feel woefully inadequate. 

4. Read Rachel Powers' Motherhood & Creativity. It saved my sanity - I have read it many times!

5. The longer you spend cooking something, the more likely they are to hate it. Fact.

6. Sleeping "through the night" starts happening between age 2 to 3 - be sceptical of anyone who claims otherwise. 

7. Breastfeeding takes a bit of practice, but it is a beautiful thing and it gets easier. 

8. You will feel like someone transformed after you have a baby, but every now & again, you'll catch a glimpse of the person you used to be.  This change is a good thing! Accept & nourish it.

9. Be kind to yourself & enjoy the ride. The days are long, but the years are short. 

10. Everyone will give you advice, especially total strangers. Take what is helpful & constructive; discard the rest.
Motherhood is the hardest, but the best thing, I have ever, ever done...

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Do you ever stare at an image or read about someone and feel that ache - like a watered-down lust - to be that person? It used to happen to me more often, this yearning, but now, not so much. Perhaps this is because I'm happier in myself, or more resigned to my life, or possibly just that I don't pore over magazines and newspapers in the way that I once did (although my Instagram habit provides ample opportunity for envying people's photogenic lives!). That said, twice in the last few months, I've felt that pang take hold of me; the sense that this other person has the life that I always wanted, and would maybe still like.

It begins with an image and some scant facts, and is padded out with fantasy:

She is standing in a doorway, smiling, with the sun shining on her wild hair. Her feet are bare and she is wearing blue denim overalls, rolled up over brown ankles. These are her work clothes. She is an artist - a potter - in her studio, a beautiful space full of inspiration and creations. Her tastes are simple and she is satisfied by simple things. She is also a mother, one who is fun and lighthearted and delights in nature. She loves her garden and makes wholesome food. She is always waiting to greet her kids, with something delicious to eat, when they come home from school. They like to join her in the studio and make alongside her. She is calm and happy and healthy and fulfilled.

She has the bright, intense eyes of someone who thinks deeply and seeks always to understand. Her hair is dark and tied back from her pale, milky skin. She wears red lipstick and an elegant black slip dress. Her pose suggests a serious person, someone who only speaks once she has carefully considered what she will say. She has a PhD from a famous university and several novels published; she writes book reviews and lectures at a university. Poetry is one of her great passions. Her house is uncluttered and stylish - "a grown-up house" -  with a selection of art that they have acquired over the years, adorning the white walls. She is a mother - gentle, quiet and fair. She excels at reading bedtime stories and making sure everyone is where they need to be, when they need to be. Sophisticated and accomplished, she is the kind of mother to inspire a girl to believe she can achieve anything she wants to.

I think that these two women have been in my mind, in different guises, for a very long time. The problem is that I can't decide which woman I should be...

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Aside from getting my kids to school on time, the thing that stresses me out most about the school routine is packed lunches. Pretty sure I'm not alone there! I have one child who loves carbs, another who would happily gorge himself on processed meat and cheese, and a third, who will eat almost anything, except beans. I'm not much of a morning person (I literally can't talk until I've had a coffee) and so packing a healthy, delicious lunch, which someone might actually eat, is an ongoing challenge. That said, I think I'm getting better at it....Of course, I still screw up and make cookies that no one likes, or run out of supplies, or choose drinking tea, slumped in front of Netflix, over making bread. There are still days when we pick up sushi on the way to school, but I've definitely nailed a few surefire hits. Here's one of them:


2 cups of flour (I sometimes use a mix of spelt & baker's, or wholemeal & baker's)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup of sugar (rapadura is my favourite)
1 egg
1 cup of milk (sometimes I add some yoghurt to the milk or use buttermilk)
1/4 cup of melted butter or coconut oil.
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup of chopped up or grated fruit, plus a handful of chocolate chips or currants or nuts (if you're allowed) and seeds. Our favourites include berries, grated apple, stone fruit, & mashed banana.

Oven: 200 degrees C

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well.

Beat egg, add milk, vanilla, and butter or oil.

Pour into well and mix lightly with dry ingredients.

Stir through fruit and extras.

Spoon into paper cases.

Optional: Sprinkle a little sugar on top

Bake for 25 minutes until golden.

Apricot muffins

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