Too Many Careers? (Diversifying Your Talents and Energy)

I’ve always been creative. I can’t remember a time in my life when I’ve been satisfied just doing a task. I was the kid who liked to mow the lawn in circular patterns (much to the dismay of my parents) and fold and stack the towels in different ways as to make patterns. I have certainly come to love order in my life more and more as I’ve gotten older, but one fact remains, everything I do has a creative edge to it.

Growing up my Mum was incredibly creative. We had little money but she was always fixing, fabricating, painting, and we KNEW that she could do/fix anything. She had many careers over the course of my time at home from circuit board solderer, landscaper, horse trainer, maid, seamstress, vet tech and the list goes on and on. Now she and my father buy houses and redo them. (they’ve also set up an animal shelter/hospital) They can take a house with walls that are bulging out from water damage and transform it into a show-piece in a matter of a month. The living spaces they create are astounding.

I suppose I never thought having just one career was an option. I was interested in so many things and I was poor. Necessity will lead one in all kinds of directions. I needed to be able to do whatever interesting job that came my way and that’s just what I did. I started as a waitress, and then worked in a food packing plant, a old fashioned meat market, a grocery store, a catering business, a hot deli, preparing food for cancer drug studies, line cook, head of a restaurant, private chef, food consultant (all the while gigging weekly with music, writing songs and studying nutrition at university) Then I hit a bit of an impasse. I’d always had trouble with maths in school even though I was in honours English, and I found that as the maths and chem at university got harder, I just couldn’t hack it. By this time I had tired of the long exhausting hours of food service and was working at a jewellery store. My boss talked to me about studying gemmology (the study of diamonds and gemstones) and so I started studying at the Gemological Institute of America. I then also decided that it’d be a good idea to study to become a jeweller, so became an apprentice. It never occurred to me that it was a weird thing to do having just failed to complete my bachelor’s degree in nutrition, I just went with it. I was interested, it was a job, and it was creative.

Now years later, I’m still a professional musician, still a jeweller, and still a chef. I do none of these jobs full-time but I’m able to do one or the other based on where my life is at the moment. For example, for the last three years I’ve been raising a little dude, and as he gets older I’m taking on more and more work. I’m working on a children’s album and an accompanying children’s book, my jewellery designs as well as fine vintage items, various food production/consultant projects and a clean-eating allergy friendly cookbook. I’m so thankful at this point that I do all that I do and none of the time I spent in my lifetime learning these things seems wasted. I may have seemed like a bit of a career philanderer in the past, but now it all makes sense. Now I ask you, how many careers is too many?

The lovely painting at the top of this blog posting is from flickr and created by Paulo Colachino. It is licensed    under creative commons. Please click the painting to see more of Paulo’s work! 

All Guitars Sold! Thanks for Looking!

 

I’ve decided that it’s about time to have a bit of a clear out….like clothing, if I haven’t worn it/played it in two years or more it has to go!  Fact of the matter is, in my case you can have too many guitars, and not enough room for them!  So here’s what I have on offer for now!

Hi everyone! I’m having a bit of a clear out of old music equipment I never use…first on the list are my Epiphone Les Paul Special, this is an older one made before Gibson moved operations to China, made in 2000…vintage sunburst. Great guitar, great sound and in fantastic condition. Pick up a bargain for Christmas! £175

Contact me if you’re interested!

(the lovely Takamine has been sold and is off to his new lovely home soon!)

 

5 Tips For Transitioning Into a Gluten/Wheat-Free Home Environment

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What happens once you are diagnosed with a wheat of gluten allergy or intolerance? Although it gets easier as awareness and need grows for gluten and wheat-free food, there are many concerns that one needs to address whilst adapting to a new lifestyle. Especially if you are living in an environment where other members of the household will continue to eat wheat and gluten containing products. There are a few steps that you can take in order to protect yourself from having a reaction through cross contamination.

1. You’ll need a separate toaster that has not been used with wheat and gluten containing breads. Setting up your own station for preparing gluten free bread products is a must. Clearly label your toaster GLUTEN FREE ONLY so that guests know not to use it for normal bread. Also make sure that normal bread products are being kept away from your food preparation area and that family members/ house mates know to clean up their crumbs!

2. Do no use/share condiments/butter  Unless it’s a squeezable bottle or something that a knife can not be inserted into. Condiments and butter are one of the biggest causes of cross contamination at home and in restaurants as people do not realise that these items are full of gluten and wheat. You’ve done it hundreds of times….you’re making a sandwich and putting mustard on it….you scoop some out on your knife and it’s not quite enough so you dip the knife back in again for a little more. Now the mustard is unusable for someone who is avoiding wheat/gluten.

3. Chopping Boards Collanders and pots are items that you should not share with people in the household who are using them for wheat/gluten containing products like bread and pasta. As a whole it’s worth it to invest in a few kitchen items only used for what you prepare for yourself.

4. Learn to cook this may be a fairly obvious one. But I do realise that in some ways, even though there was virtually no awareness about food allergies or easily recognised safe products at the time when I was diagnosed…I was already a cook/chef at the time so learning to modify ingredients in my diet was a challenge I embraced. I did go through some trial and error, but the cooking bit was always easy for me.  If you don’t like to spend loads of time in the kitchen…all you need to do is start out with a few simple recipes that you can do in 5 minutes or less.  Omelettes, quesadillas, GF pasta and simple salads are a good start. There are loads of pre-packaged gluten-free options out there now…but they are pricey and often filled with ingredients that are often less than healthy. Learning to cook will save you loads of money and keep you healthier.

5. Educate others  Don’t expect other people to know how to keep you from having a reaction. You need to educate other family members and friends on how to keep you safe. They love you…they want to help. Not long ago, it seemed that people viewed food allergies and mental illness in the same way. So many times I’ve been told..”It’s all in your head!” Things have changed. Allergy UK states that around 45% of people in the UK suffer from some sort of food allergy/intolerance. Don’t be afraid to ask people for what you need. You will probably encounter some resistance along the way, but being clear about what you can eat and how it’s prepared is a lot easier than spending the night doubled over or a trip to the hospital. Get used to speaking up…you’ll need to do it a lot.

Obviously there is a lot more to say on this subject, especially about the foods you now can/can’t eat…but that is for another time and I find there’s a lot of good info already out there on the web. I will be posting soon on that subject…but if you need help for now here are some great places to start:

http://www.coeliac.org.uk/

http://www.foodallergy.org/

http://www.glutenfree-crawley.org.uk/index.php

all photos used in this blog are sourced from flickr and licensed through Creative Commons. To find out more info about the photographer and enjoy more of their photos, please click on the picture itself and you will be taken to their flickr page! Enjoy!

Apologies and Cooking with Puy Lentils

ImageMy apologies for not writing in this blog for so long. I have such a backlog of items from my tour to America and all the places I visited while I was there. The world is certainly changing. You can almost expect to easily find a restaurant that is versed in the ways of the wheat/free gluten free diner. Whether or not the staff is trained accordingly is certainly another matter. But we’ll get onto that in another posting.  Anyway, I’ve been cooking up tonnes of delicious meals lately and tonight I decided to break out a bag of dried puy lentils…an ingredient that I love but rarely use for some reason. Puy lentils come from south central France and are distinctive for their lovely colour and wonderful almost spicy flavour. The great thing about them is that they don’t fall apart as they cook and hold their shape and therefore their texture very well. Tonight I was in a hurry so threw together this very easy veggie and lentil stew.

Puy Lentil and Vegetable Stew

2 tbsp EVOO
2 stalks of celery diced
1 onion diced
1 small carrot diced
1 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp sea salt
3 bay leaves
a couple turns of the pepper grinder
1 cup dried puy lentils (rinsed and drained)
3 cups water
a few fresh tomatoes chopped

Heat EVOO in a small stockpot until medium hot and add celery, onions, carrots, herbs and salt. After you start to smell the herbs, turn down the heat and sautee until the onions go slightly translucent. Add the lentils and stir to coat with the oil and spices. Add your water and tomatoes and cook for about 45 mins when the lentils are soft in the centre. Salt to taste and garnish with some creme frais or plain yogurt.

most of the photos in this blog are licensed through Creative Commons and found at flickr.com. This lovely photo is courtesy of Wordridden. Click the link to see more!

Free Track and Radio Interview!

Hi there lovelies! Let me start by saying that I am determined to post more on this here lovely little blog…and that to celebrate I think you should have a free track from my new record….






…and I just did a nice interview on KRUU radio with the lovely Lyrical Venus (@LyricalVenus) and you can hear the archived version here! We have a great time talking for 30 mins and then there’s 30 mins of fabulous female artists! Also Greenbelt is getting nearer and I’m very excited to be playing on Sunday afternoon! I hope everyone who is coming can make it over to the performance cafe! x More soon!