30 Things I Do Instead of Writing

1. Wash the breakfast dishes and realise the kitchen windows are dirty
2. Clean kitchen windows
3. Check Twitter. Tweet about plans to spend all day writing furiously
4. Take photograph of desk which looks lovely and writerly
5. Write blog post about said desk for author blog because author blog is very important
6. Check Facebook
7. Read other writers’ blogs about not writing
8. Open Scrivener and reward self with check of Twitter
9. Notice plants are dying. Water plants
10. Realise it’s lunchtime. Make lunch and declare it’s lunchtime and feel justified in doing nothing
11. Just quickly listen to the Archers, because it’s only fifteen minutes long
12. Pick up long-abandoned crochet blanket project and realise NOW is the time
13. Start clearing out email inbox of doom which has been ignored for months
14. Just make another cup of coffee first
15. Check Twitter. Discuss not writing with other writers
16. Read newspaper online (that’s research, you know)
17. Check Amazon chart placing of current book
18. Check Amazon stats to see how many copies have been sold
19. Download The Best Ever Secret Guide To Being a Really Productive Writer
20. Realise you don’t have the software to read it
21. Sign up and install new software
22. Make more coffee
23. Quickly check Facebook, just because it’s important to have your author platform vibrant and active
24. And er Twitter, just in case something has happened. It’s RESEARCH
25. Turn off notifications on laptop to avoid being distracted by Facebook and Twitter
26. Go onto Facebook to announce I’ve discovered how to do the above
27. Talk several other procrastinating writer friends through same
28. Realise it’s 45 minutes until school run time
29. Start writing, get hit with GIANT FLASH OF INSPIRATION
30. Leave, muttering darkly about not having time to write, for school run

how to make sloe gin

It’s autumn, and I’m thinking about sloe gin and sparkly lights and candles and crochet blankets. For those of you wanting to know how to make sloe gin, here’s a recipe.

Having left it until later this year, the sloes are softer, darker, and they’ve lost their bloom. I’ve always picked them in September, and plonked them in the freezer overnight, because the traditional sloe gin recipe states that you shouldn’t pick them until after the first frost. However, I think the first frost must’ve been earlier than it is nowadays, because the sloes have undergone a transformation and their bitter, dusty taste has been replaced with that of a very tart plum. It’ll be interesting to see how that affects the sloe gin.

The first thing you need to make sloe gin is – you guessed it – sloes. They grow on the blackthorn bush, and look like tiny little plums, blue-black with a slight whitish bloom. The blackthorn has quite sharp thorns, so be prepared when you’re picking to come home a bit sore. You might also come across a bush with bigger, slightly less tart fruit – these are bullaces. These won’t give quite the same almondy taste to the gin, but they’ll work as a substitute.

Back in August I was featured in Woman & Home magazine talking about picking sloes, and how the annual ritual of making sloe gin marked the beginning of autumn, my favourite season. Yesterday afternoon we got soaking wet, had a lovely time, came home and curled
up in the sitting room with hot chocolate and watched a film.

Sloe Gin Recipe:

Go and have a look in the hedgerows and you’re sure to find some sloes. Don’t forget a bag. If you’re like me, you’ll forget, and have to take them home in a dog poo bag.
This will earn you strange looks from passing walkers.

how to make sloe gin

All you need for home made sloe gin is a jar, a bottle of gin, a pound (450g) of sloes and 100g of sugar.
Sterilise the jar by washing it in hot soapy water and then rinsing with lots of boiling water.
Plonk the washed sloes in the jar, and add the sugar and gin.
Put it in a dark place, and give it a swirl once a week from now ’til Christmas
Strain it into a bottle, and drink.
It’s that simple.
This year I’ve experimented by using vanilla sugar (caster sugar I keep in a jar with vanilla pods) and I’ve added a vanilla pod to the sloe gin mixture, too.
This may be delicious.
It may be disgusting.
Reports to follow in December.

how to make sloe gin

This is my entry to lovely English Mum’s Great Big Autumn Bakeoff.
It’s not baking, but I’m hoping that a recipe for sloe gin means she’ll let me off!

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The final result: this is the 2010 vintage, sloe gin made with vanilla. Two years on its absolutely delicious: warm and mellow and just what you need on a winter evening. Happy sloe-picking!

Author Interview: Julia Williams

Julia Williams is one of eight children and a mother of four. She also ran the London Marathon a few years ago, so we have quite a bit in common. However, Julia is a published author of several books, which is where we part company (sadly!).

Her latest novel The Bridesmaid Pact came out this month and I caught up with her to find out how she manages to fit in writing, motherhood, blogging and falling in love with her romantic heroes.

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