Monday 31 December 2018


Had to go out the house today to get some chores and non food shopping done. Having got my feet wet on numerous occasions walking Ruby, I went to find some boots, eventually settling on these:

Just over £48 in Dobies, fur lined. I don't mind the colour, at least people should be able to see me at a distance as I tend to wear dark coats!

Saturday 29 December 2018

Spooky or what!

Are they weird looking or what? The new header is of the gang of our grand dogs that came to stay with us over Christmas.

Poor Ruby (on the left of the new header). She was flying around as happy as larry yesterday but by 7pm she was throwing up. After 3 vomits (bringing up more than just her tea), several carpet clean ups, she seemed to have finished.

Despite having towels, newspapers, rags and us on hand, she managed each time, to do it all over the carpet. Twice in the lounge and once on the inside of the front door when we couldn't get it open quickly enough. Luckily, unlike human sick, it doesn't have the same smell otherwise I would have been sick as well:(

Today, she is as bright as a button, going to the toilet okay and although she should not be eating for a while, will have a small portion of scrambled egg and boiled rice to see how she is with it. We were worried she might have something stuck in her bowel but it looks more like she might have eaten something that didn't agree with her.

The house is back to normal. Christmas was put away yesterday, the last of the guest and dog washing is underway and we have moved things around in the lounge and dining room to see how it feels.

Thursday 27 December 2018

I get so annoyed....

When I arrive at the shops to find I have forgotten the shopping list!

As it happened, we only forgot two items and they can wait. Luckily DB had glanced at the menu for this week, so at least we had some idea. Squash and sponge puddings were added to our shop as that is what our food bank is requesting. We also bought a Christmas tablecloth and napkins for another year. The shops were empty and we resisted all temptation to stock up on reduced Christmas food, none of which we wanted or needed.

After the departure yesterday of our visitors, Ruby slept almost the rest of the day and evening. Hoovering was done, as was a general tidy up. Today and tomorrow their bedding, plus the dog stuff will be washed. Finally, by the weekend, after dusting and putting everything away, we shall be straight.

We have decided in the new year to move items in a few rooms around to try and get them of more use to us. The flow isn’t quite right.

Wednesday 26 December 2018


All I can say is, thank goodness our grand dogs are so well trained. Ruby has had a whale of a time playing with her sister. Master L., showed a mild interest in Ruby for about 3 days before her sister came on heat Christmas Eve!

Slight chaos is now in progress as her sister has turned into a right hussy.

Everyone departs this morning where I think more ‘fun’ will be had down south, as they all arrive at the home of DDiL, where 3 dogs will be waiting, including a newly neutered dog!!!

Master L had to be in the kitchen last night, kept waking us up. He had to go in their bedroom the night before, never normally allowed in the bedrooms. However, he kept waking them up all night, hence being in the kitchen last night. When the pack is together, they are all usually quiet but he kept chunting quietly quite a bit. DS kept coming out to him:( DB as ever, heard nothing.

Ah well.....

Sunday 23 December 2018

Soggy bottom ...

We went to the beach yesterday to give the dogs a good run around. Ruby was not impressed having to share a crate with Master L. She whinged the whole way there!

The tide was quite far out so we had to traverse a few gullies to get there. A suitable running around time followed.

On the way back, the tide was coming in and the gullies were deeper. We crossed most okay but the last one was too deep for my shoes. DS offered to piggyback me across it. It took me an age to get on his back!

Halfway across he decided to speed up and just as we got across he started to lower me down. Not a good move as I wasn’t ready and clung on more tightly, toppling us both over. In the chaos that followed, I lost my footing and fell into the edge of the gully flat on my back, getting half submerged. He half tumbled in getting his arms soaked.

I was laughing by then and being desperate to go to the loo, wet myself! The brief flash of warmth was most welcome  but after that I got even colder.

A wet walk back to the car, a damp drive home and a very welcome change of clothing, cup of tea and a biscuit helped.

Friday 21 December 2018

A game...

I visited a friend for a Christmas cup of coffee and a couple of mince pies! We had a good catch up natter then she asked if I knew how to play Uno.

Like me, she is a visual learner and needs to play games, to understand them. After three rounds she got the basics enough to be able to play it with her grandchildren over Christmas.

I walked home in the rain.

Thursday 20 December 2018


DS and DDiL, plus dogs, arrived yesterday evening. The usual chaos ensued for a short while, whilst the dogs got reacquainted, then peace fell.

Ruby and her sister D, are playing constantly today. L, is sniffing Ruby who has passed her fertile stage but still smells interesting. M and S, are keeping themselves away from it all!

We have done our last food shop for Christmas, very early, even then it was starting to get busy. Once Christmas is over, I shall start topping up my Brexit box which got put on hold.

Wednesday 19 December 2018

Advocaat Muffins with frosting...

Having made an Advocaat cake the other day, see here, and deciding we didn't particularly like the chocolate in it, the recipe was adapted.

Using half the recipe and no chocolate, the mixture had 8 cocktail cherries chopped into it before putting into muffin tins. These were baked for 25 minutes at 190C:
Top view:
Once cold, I made up a small amount of frosting using 25g butter, 150g icing sugar and 38ml of Advocaat. Using a 1" ice cream scoop,  I managed to cover all 8 muffins. The final decoration was 1/2 a cocktail cherry:
They were put into the fridge just long enough to help set the frosting. I am not a fan of butter icing but these were to serve with a Christmas cup of tea with our walking buddies, so I decorated the muffins with them in mind. DB and I shared one with a cup of tea. Very nice!

Tuesday 18 December 2018

It’s madness out there!

I had an early morning dentist checkup. DB came with me, so we could pop to a shop afterwards.
Just as well as traffic was at a standstill for the shops.

Luckily, by the time I had finished, the queue was less and we got some of what we wanted.

All guest presents are now delivered and wrapped. A final one, to ourselves, should arrive today. Our weekly shop later this week should see us through this first festive period. We will be on our own for the New Year, probably eating leftovers, so nothing extra to do for that.

We nipped over to the dog trainer for coffee and mince pie and to pick up 3 weeks worth of raw food for Ruby. We left her at home to be on the safe side.

After 2 1/2 weeks lead walking on pavements, we finally went in the woods. Two women were walking intact males and kept them off lead, much to our annoyance. One sniffed Ruby’s rear end, she growled and kept her tail firmly locked down. Guess she has finished her heat then, which we thought she had.

Monday 17 December 2018

How could one biscuit.....

Make such a mess!

I had been for a much delayed massage this morning. DB had a pot of tea and a biscuit ready for when I got in.

Dunking said biscuit into my tea, one large chunk fell off. Instead of falling into the tea, as per usual, it took a detour.

Hitting the side of my mug, it rolled down my pale cardigan, hitting it in 4 places. It wasn’t finished. It plonked onto my jeans then drizzled down (luckily) onto the cream dog protection covering on the armchair.

Being a caramel and chocolate chip biscuit, it looked like someone had been ill all over me.

All the chair covers and the cardigan are in the washer. My jeans, after a thorough clean, live to fight another day.

Saturday 15 December 2018

If at first you don't succeed....

Try again.

We weren't sure whether Ruby would try and get our Christmas cards which are normally fixed to our internal doors on ribbons. Just to be on the safe side, DB attached some ribbon (ends wrapped in sellotape to stop the drawing pin splitting it) to the hall ceiling with said drawing pins:

For two consecutive mornings, the ribbon had pulled away from the tape and therefore the pins, and all the cards were on the floor.

Eventually, we tied small loops in the ends of some waxed string and tried again, this time successfully:
As we quite like the cards up there, the string will go in our Christmas box for future years.

Friday 14 December 2018

Making a special cake...

It seems I am doing nothing but bake at the moment, it too shall pass...

We decided to try an Advocat cake, courtesy of Elaine over at Mortgage Free in Three, see here.
  • 250 g Margarine or butter
  • 250 g sugar (I reduced this to 225g)
  • 250 g SR Flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 175 ml Advocat
  • 100g plain chocolate

It certainly tasted of Advocat but I am not too keen on the chocolate as it is quite powerful. When we make it again, I shall half the recipe, leave out the chocolate (making it less calorific and less expensive), add a few diced cocktail cherries and make muffins.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday 13 December 2018

Tick and tick

Finally gotten around to making some sausage rolls:
and our last minute Christmas Cake (which I prefer) from Delia Smiths Christmas cook book:
It might get decorated, it might not, depends how I feel.

Welcome to Katie via Bloglovin.

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Chocolate and pistachio (or other nut) freezer fudge

I don't normally like fudge as it is way too sweet for my taste. This recipe we both like although for some reason this year, it turned out very chocolatey! It could be that we accidentally picked up a reduced fat tin of condensed milk or maybe last time I made it, I didn't use just dark chocolate. It has to live in the freezer or fridge otherwise it turns into a gooey mess! Here is the original Nigella link here.

12oz high cocoa dark chocolate (or half this amount and good milk chocolate)
14oz can condensed milk
Pinch salt
1oz butter
5 1/4oz pistachio or other nuts.

Put nuts in a bag and smash into small chunks with a rolling pin.
Put everything else (except the nuts) into a bowl over a pan of hot water. Allow to melt stirring occasionally. Make sure the bowl doesn't touch the water.

Stir in the nuts and combine. Pour into a 9" square silicone tin, this allows it to be turned out once set. Put into fridge and allow to set.
Turn out and cut into 3/4" squares. Her sized squares are too large and sickly. Store in the fridge or freezer.

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Poor old Ruby

She is certainly different whilst on heat, very clingy. If she could get inside your legs she would.

Everytime DB sits at the dining room table, there she is:
Little paw in constant touch - ah!

Same whilst we are sitting down in the lounge, or in the kitchen, as close to the safety gate as possible.

She watched us decorate the tree without a care in the world, just a quick sniff and so far, she has totally ignored it.

Mind you, talking about her heat. We think, that after just 10 days, she may have finished. She is dry, swelling starting to go down, tail flagging has gone away and she no longer thrusts her bottom into us. Now, watch that statement come back to bite us! We shall continue to keep her on a lead for walks and watch her for another two weeks just to be sure.

Monday 10 December 2018

Oh Christmas Tree Oh Christmas Tree

We got our tree up (in both senses of the word) last weekend. We are currently using only the middle and top portions (5') due to Ruby but she hasn't actually been too near it. Maybe next year, we can go back to its full 8' size. It is also sitting on top of a unit just in case!

During the day with lights on:
And in the evening:

Sunday 9 December 2018

Home made postal Christmas gifts reveal...

Some family members have Christmas gifts sent to them. I like to make or re-purpose things. They must be able to fit into a large letter size bag to save postage. No point making something only to spend £3 per gift to send it!

One year I sewed defunct tea towels into vegetable storage bags for the fridge. I have crocheted dishcloths. This year, still adjusting to having Ruby with us, time ran away with me. After a bit of a rummage and a think, I made labels for presents. I picked some bay leaves from the garden to dry. Using a glue gun and adding a slice of dehydrated orange to an address label they turned into these:
Then walking at Wells one day, we came back through the woods and found thin chips of pine bark lying on the floor:
There were just 4 slices left over and as I had made enough labels to give away, added a star anise to each one for little decorations for the dining room:
There is enough room to write on the bottom of each label and the dining room shelf smells wonderful with the star anise and orange slices.

Friday 7 December 2018

We have used up.....

A good portion of our Christmas savings on both food and presents. Little ‘secret santa’ Christmas Eve presents are bought as are most of DS’s and DDiL’s. I have taken cash from the amount to buy those for DB otherwise receipts put on the money programme, would give them away. I still have to complete his shopping. Presents for locals, walking buddies and family members have been put to one side, or already dispatched.

Christmas cards were posted, still local ones to deliver. All in all, we are slowly getting there!

The bacon and pork fillet, plus stuffing are in the freezer ready for the big day. We have ordered a dry cured ham to pick up, then freeze next week.

I forgot about my massage, as we were late up, then had to clean and sort out Ruby, then go shopping. I phoned to apologise and offer the cash but she said no and has booked me in for next week, thank goodness.

Ruby is on day 7 of her first heat cycle. I think we may have missed a day or two of her first stage, proestrus as she has been on standing heat, second stage Estrus, since Monday. Hopefully she might start to subside by the end of next week, if we are lucky. Good job her tail position let’s us know what stage she is at!

Hope to begin putting up the decorations this weekend. Have a good weekend folks.

Wednesday 5 December 2018

Preventing winter ailments in our childhood

I remember having to take a large spoonful of cod liver oil, on its own, nothing added or anything given afterwards to take away the dreadful taste. I would fight against it but never won!

Another once or twice a winter ingredient, we had for years, was a very large spoonful of "Brimstone and Treacle' (or in our case, golden syrup instead of the treacle). It had a strong paste like consistency and taste, was quite yellow and the syrup was needed not only to bind it but help it go down. An interesting article on sulphur can be found here.

On very cold days, before heading off to school, we were given a Victory V lozenga, something I still love to this day but do wish it was in a better shape to help with the sucking. I don't think it did anything to help but was enjoyable nonetheless.

On occasions, we were given an iodine tablet to suck, it was horrible and stained your tongue for hours.

I am sure there must have been more things but can't remember. Do you remember being given anything to ward off winter ills?

Tuesday 4 December 2018

Things I made earlier and forgot about...

Our small amount of jam was not going to last for all of winter so I made another batch:
Thawed blackberries were sieved to remove their pips, they were added to a 1lb portion of thawed pureed apple. The appropriate amount of sugar and water, gave us another 3 jars of delicious jam.

The chocolate sloe vodka has been sieved and returned to its jar. It will shortly be decanted into small bottles as gifts:
Now the more serious Christmas baking and meal making will get underway shortly!

Monday 3 December 2018

Trialling a new to me roast...

I have noticed on blogland a few people trying the Hairy Bikers Stuffed Pork Fillet (tenderloin) and thought we would give it a go. Recipe here.

We used just one fillet to try it (and half the stuffing). I think the stuffing took the longest bit to prepare:
It was made on Saturday, wrapped in pancetta slices as that was all I had and stored in the fridge to settle into shape:
Roasted at 200C for just 50 minutes, rested for 15 whilst I finished off everything else:
Verdict: very nice and it will be our roast for Christmas Day. We got 12 slices from it and served up 4 meals:
Changes we will make for the day - reduce the preserved ginger a little and use only half the lemon as we found it a little too lemony for our tastes. I didn't have an apple so substituted a pear, which worked fine but we will use an apple on the day.

We didn't serve it with the sauce, instead using the juices to make normal pork gravy. It was slightly lacking until I add a tablespoon of ginger syrup and then it was on another level altogether!

Sunday 2 December 2018


All our Christmas cards yesterday. My final present for posting went on Friday. I have just realised that I only have about three weeks left to get on with food preparation so had better step on it.

At the start of each month, we move our four armchairs around in the lounge. This ensures equal wear and tear on the two we use. It is also a good excuse to move the crate Ruby sleeps in. Boy, some loose hair gets around it, despite her being groomed everyday.

Didn’t get around to it yesterday due to her first day of being on heat, completely threw us! She is ├╝ber clingy at the moment but the sanitary pad holder, made from a long sock, works very well as a standin for her proper pad holder. I am in awe of the person who thought of it:

Her new sized pants arrived today so we will see how they perform.

Saturday 1 December 2018

In some ways....

It is a good job it’s happened now, Ruby is on heat for the first time. Can’t say I am looking forward to the mess but special pants were bought. Unfortunately they are now too small so the next size up has been ordered. Meanwhile, she is wearing a nappy (diaper) made from a sock - don’t ask! See here:)

Our grand dogs will be here for Christmas and one is an intact male. Also Miss D, Ruby’s sibling will be with us and if they had both been on heat at the same time, the poor lad would be beside himself!!