Thursday 31 December 2020

A military operation...

Woke up this morning to poor Ruby whining. That dreadful smell was back:( 

Yep, two piles of slightly formed diarrhea, all over her bed and her - poor thing. It started yesterday after she had sprats. No vomit just very loose, smelly poo out on our walk.

There we were, outside at 07:30 with a temperature of -5C, wanting to hose her down. We had protected the outside tap but forgotten to empty the hose and it was frozen solid. We tipped the ice out of her water bowl and started washing her like that. Not much good. 

Anyhow, we persevered and rubbed her with shampoo. All the time she was looking very upset, probably thinking we were mad with her. In the end we started laughing at the silliness of it all. Still didn't help reassure her though! It reminds us when it happens, of the days of very dirty nappies:)

Eventually, we gave up and got a bucket of warm water and a jug to rinse her. She still smelled slightly but by then we were both freezing. Bedding was dragged outside and left for a while.

Bits and bobs attached to the carpet, door and walls were cleaned up before we ate breakfast - hey ho!

For a change, she wasn't interested in food but we boiled rice for later on if she feels like it. We have decided to stop giving her sprats - forever. She loves pilchards, which just for a change I didn't add to the meals prepared yesterday as we have loads of sprats! She also eats tinned tuna and tinned mackeral in water, so they will be okay as substitutes.

The washing machine will be working full tilt today. Two dog mattresses (can only wash one at a time), two covers, two towels. All will be washed in powdered bleach.

We shall give her another hose down later on as she is still going to the loo, or trying to and still smells slightly. Onwards and upwards.

New Years Eve. We find it difficult to stay up now but have to for Ruby due to midnight fireworks. Seeing as she doesn't feel great, she will probably be fast asleep.

Wednesday 30 December 2020

Apart from the Christmas Tree

All other decorations are down. We tend to do this when on our own for Christmas. If DS and family are here for the New Year, they get left up. The tree is up for a while longer so the twinkly lights can lift the gloomy weather days. 

I notice on blogland the 'no spend' posts are coming round again. This is something we don't participate in. Usually in January, we try to reduce spending, this is particularly revelant for this January.

Our food shopping bills had grown way too high. Some of it was due to price rises, a bit to Christmas food shopping over several weeks. The rest was preparing for Brexit (over the past couple of years).

I am not going to dive into the Brexit boxes until we know what is happening post final Brexit. Plus winter has hardly got going and then there is the coronavirus. 

The freezer is quite full so, in the next few weeks, we will use meat from there. Such things like legs of lamb, will of course, generate further meals to freeze and on it goes. The large shepherds pie we made ready for visitors will get eaten over two days. The baby one we did for DGD will be eaten by me, DB will have a little something else.

Other than buying meat for meals for Ruby, that should be it for January. We have just made her another 14 meals today. Our shopping the other day came to our more usual amount so that is a good start. 

Food prices and all bills will rise this year, as they do every year. When doing our annual budget, we take last years figures, add 10% before dividing by 12 for our monthly bills. We have savings that have matured over the Christmas period or are maturing shortly. Trying to find decent interest rates is impossible. We just have to do the best we can.

Are you getting financially prepared for another year?

Tuesday 29 December 2020

Jigsaws and soup

Did our first post-Christmas food shop today. It was very quiet, hardly anyone in the supermarkets. There were quite a few empty shelves of fresh food, but we got everything we needed. 

This first jigsaw was from E., our walking buddy - 500 pieces:

It was slightly difficult being a painting as there was no proper definition to the image. This next one was from DS to me, a fellow Marmite lover. It is 1000 pieces. Should finish it today:
We made a bottom of the fridge soup for yesterday and today. It comprised mainly carrots, onions, red split lentils, a can of tomatoes, pearly barley,seasoning and some leftover gammon:
It is thick and rich, a real 'stick to your ribs' kind of soup!

Saturday 26 December 2020

After yesterday - today!

 Herewith, a not very good picture, taken in the dark, of Ruby's lovely new hand made leather collar:

We had a very quiet Christmas Day. It was made better by a long video call with DS and DDiL (busy cooking their meal) and of course DGD who waved, smiled, gurned and mimicked me huffing at her. I said Nan nan nan to her and she nan nanned back. She certained seemed to enjoy her first Christmas dinner!

All our presents were welcomed yesterday. Some were off our wish list, others thought about. They got me a venus fly trap to grow from seed, goodness knows if I will succeed but a great idea. I hate flies in the house with a vengance. I shout FLY, and everyone stops what they are doing to get it out. DDiL had no idea what was happening when we first did it! We try to trap them in glasses to throw out but they get swatted if not as a last resort.

We shall have a repeat of yesterdays dinner as two were plated up. Pork pie, sausage rolls and vegetable nibbles for lunch. I saved a bit of the gammon stock to make a small amount of soup for us tomorrow.

Today saw us move into the STAY AT HOME tier 4. No more meeting E for walks for goodness knows how long. We had only just started up again but to be honest, it was getting miserable sitting out in the cold to eat food that rapidly turned fridge like.

The daily figures will be all over the place now as Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland aren't posting any/all of theirs until well after 28th December, or longer. Figures posted are only from England and they are high enough.

Although we knew coronavirus had affected a few people we didn't personally know but had heard about on the grapevine, it was brought home at Christmas. Someone we knew well, in our village, died with it, just before Christmas. He did have underlying conditions but was reasonably fit beforehand. Our area's numbers continue to rise, probably due to the new variant. Can't believe it won't be long before all of us are in tier 4 or we go into another lockdown.

On top of that storm Bella is coming tonight. People are already flooded out or close to being so, fields are waterlogged to say the least. We really don't need you Bella, you can pootle off somewhere else but of course, you will come. I think this is what we can expect now that world wide weather systems are changing.

On that 'happy' note ha ha, I shall leave you.

Friday 25 December 2020

Christmas Day so far! UPDATED

Both our presents before opening:

And afterwards (mine only):

Two neck warmers and silk glove liners. An ipad rest, a 12' x 12' paper storage box plus multi-coloured card to go in it. An old style Marmite jigsaw, two mini bars of Ritter chocolate, a box of chocolates, a doodle book, a Baileys glass with a few chocolates and a mini bottle of Baileys. Two books, a polythene recycled shopping bag, a new doggy mug and a grow your own fly catcher planter. How great and thoughtful are all of those?
Particularly loved this label from DS, above.

Ruby received a new leather collar made by a lovely lady who has just started her own business. Like children, she enjoyed ripping apart paper the most!

Lunch pictures:

Mine on the left, his on the right. I didn't need gravy but used some leftover leek and potato soup for DB as we find gammon gravy too salty. We used about 1/3rd of the gammon so plenty left over. We didn't need our pudding so shall have that for tea.


Thursday 24 December 2020

You see Margo

 Christmas came in a box! - (The Good Life - Christmas Day Special).

Using a courier service DS and family received our presents yesterday and we, from them, today:

I thanked the driver for safe delivery and wished him a Merry Christmas. DB went to M & S this morning first thing, to collect our box of food:

It was pre-ordered ages ago, and paid for, so we didn't want to cancel it. Whilst in there, he took the opportunity to buy more underwear. Last time they shut under Covid restrictions, they wouldn't let you into the clothing area and we started to run low as things 'wasted away'. We are both okay for the foreseeable future now.

I have bought some dry cough syrup as I have a mild one. Pretty sure it isn't Covid, just an occasional dry cough, which is irritating. The sort of thing you get at the start of a cold, I also hope it isn't one of those starting. 

Mind you, since early March, every three weeks without fail, I have had a sore throat return for two days, then it disappears. The cough is new but part of, I think, the same thing.

Anyhow, may I take this opportunity to wish you all a safe and healthy Merry Christmas and New Year. No matter what this virus throws at us, we will prevail eventually, most of us anyway. 

I want to thank you all for reading and for the fraction of you that comment, a special thank you. You make my day and hopefully, more will be brave enough to comment next year.

Wednesday 23 December 2020

A double rise

 Currently, Norfolk is in tier 2 restrictions for Covid-19. I was pretty sure we would go up to 3, but have instead shot up to tier 4. That is fine by me but may come as a shock to others. I think my son is currently in tier 2 where he lives, same as his MinL, but are both now moving into tier 3. I am sure he will let me know in due course.

On top of that information to digest, it seems we have another, potentially more transmissible version of the virus, this time from South Africa. It seems to target younger people more readily.

In a perverse way, you have to ‘admire’ its tenacity. It is a living thing and is doing its best to survive. We just have to hope it doesn’t evolve into something more deadly and that in the end, we win, rather than it.

Tuesday 22 December 2020


We were late for our chiropractic appointment, but luckily she was fine, as we were the only two for today. We had been travelling for 10 minutes when we couldn’t remember if we had left a door open for the courier. Turned around and yes we had!

Once finished we went to Dunelm to pick up our new tea towels for the year. It was empty. Then to FarmFoods for things we forgot the other day. It too was empty.

Frankly we were pleased to get home. I feel the need to hunker down for a while.

We’ve just had confirmation of our parcel delivery from DS and family. They also received confirmation of ours to them. Hopefully both will be delivered fine.

Monday 21 December 2020

Media hype...

 Dear media, when something is news, tell it like it is, not hype it up to panic people unnecessarily.

Food is a recent story where mention of shortages are being overstated. This will lead to panic buying. We may or may not have a shortage of fresh food items, due  to either closed borders or Brexit. Such a shortage is not going to kill us, or starve us. It will be inconvenient at the most, not the apocalypse being touted at the moment.

We did our shop today, a day early, due to chiropractic appointments tomorrow. There were hardly any things missing, just a few items, due no doubt to a morning lorry being late.

We visited two supermarkets and it was the same in both. Other than that, all shelves were full. It was slightly busier than normal but that is also normal for this close to Christmas. A pet shop was also visited. We started shopping at 08:10 and we’re home by 09:20.

All presents for family, were then packed into a parcel to be picked up by a courier. Hopefully they will be delivered safely, in time. Again, it’s not the end of the world if they are a little late. They are doing the same for us and to DDiL’s family.

I am over being sad about not seeing them. We have not been flooded out of our home, unlike others. We are all well and doing our best to stay that way. Barring unforeseen events, we shall see each other again, unlike others who have lost loved ones.

Until then, we can speak and see each other over video calls. We watched our DGD enjoy her bath yesterday. Before that she was eating her tea and jelly in her high chair. Then she went on the floor to move around and play before her bath. She gave us an instant big smile and waved. How great is that?

Sunday 20 December 2020

There's a dog in there somewhere!

Although the recommended size dog coat for Ruby, in this particular make - Ruff and Tumble was M/L, being such a small sized Springer, it rather dwarfs her! Then again, it will warm her up after a dip in the sea etc:

She wasn't happy having the large collar up over her head as you can tell:

Forgot to take the photo but when we folded the collar off her head, she was far happier. These were selling out so fast, we had to hunt the internet to find a company that still had 'her' size in. People buying them for Christmas possibly?

Saturday 19 December 2020

Damn, damn and double damn!

 Christmas is cancelled regarding visitors. No way they can travel here and back in one day:(

Presents will be sent in the New Year to avoid the chaos that will ensue after this announcement. Supermarket shopping will be hell as people rush to get food in to eat, who had planned to go away. 

Right decision Boris, bad timing. Still, we won’t starve:)

Damn protesters!

 I think protesters, marching and  moaning about Covid restrictions are super spreaders, complete, self serving idiots. They hardly wear masks nor stay 2m apart. It seems to be considered a ‘jolly’. Something they can brag about. They don’t care about catching or spreading this awful disease to their loved ones, or the rest of us. Those of us who have obeyed every rule are more than cheesed off with them. I wish the water cannons were still around to be used, see how they feel then.

I have seen my new darling granddaughter for a total of 5 days this year, let alone her mum and dad. Anyone whose loved ones live in another part of the country will understand. We thought long and hard about meeting for Christmas and potential dangers about doing so. Obviously if any of us start to feel unwell beforehand, we will pull out. I intend to wear a mask to give them a jolly good hug once settled in.

We are all doing our best to stay safe and not mix socially just in case. Hopefully it will happen, if not, I shall be my usual stoic self but very upset.

Friday 18 December 2020

A simple Christmas - plus - some Brexit changes from January that may affect you

 If you like to travel, see here.

More travel and citizenship/living abroad changes, see here.

I have made myself make a few 'nearly vegetarian' sausage rolls, using my made up recipe from last year, see here.

I still need to make a few mince pies. Christmas Eve is going to be our Christmas day this year for family reasons - hopefully! This means that our meat and a few treats, need picking up early morning on Christmas eve. Once back with that, we will open presents. There will be no chance of a main meal in the daytime. Instead, I shall do a simple lunch and our main meal will be in the evening.

Due to my awful lack of enthusiasm, I am doing a simple but almost ready made meal, something I have never done before. Most of it will be picked up in the morning - if this fails, we could be on sandwiches:(  

I shall cook a few vegetables as DB doesn't eat one of the main vegetable components. Pudding is bought in, just custard to make or ice cream to go with it. It should make a pleasant change and a chance for us all to relax in the short time we hope to be together.


Wednesday 16 December 2020

For Su - home cooked diets for dogs

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT an animal nutritionalist. These are web sites I have read well to help me make up my mind on what to feed my dog. My thoughts are included on the advice mentioned below.

There are a few web sites around to help you. This one is quite good but American so some things might not apply here. Don’t be overwhelmed. Read, digest, write down ideas, read again to check. See here.

Reference raw meaty bones - The above site says one third to one half - I use 10 to 15%. I have never been happy with Ruby munching on bones per se. As she is a raw fed dog, the base of her bone requirements (10%), comes from finely ground whole poultry carcasses, ranging from turkey, chicken and duck to pheasant. 

She does have 2 chicken necks twice a week (which takes her to about 15%) and whole frozen then thawed sprats (5) twice a week which helps counts towards her fish. I use frozen, then thawed sprats instead of fish oil as that can go off very quickly. The cans of fish they recommend on here would also work. I add in one large can of pilchards in tomato sauce (you can add or leave out the sauce depending on how you feel). This covers her fish requirements.

If you don't mind your dog chomping on chunky raw meaty bones that is fine. If you do, you would need to source bone some other way such as necks etc.

Starchy Vegetables - 10%. I never feed her potatoes but she does have most of the rest mentioned - usually minced raw, except the broccoli and sweet potato which are cooked. You would be looking at lightly cooking all her vegetables.

Organs - 10%. I give her 5% liver and 5% kidney but other more unmentionable items if I can get hold of them. If you are cooking them, do so lightly, minced, on their own as they are highly flavoured, then add in when the rest has finished cooking. Could add these to just half of the meals you make so as to give your dog different flavours each day.

Boneless meat - 50%.  Reference heart. Morrison's (processed) and occasionally Tesco (still whole), are the only two supermarkets I have found that sell these. It is rich but cheap and I use 10% to count towards the 50% which cuts costs.

I buy 10% fat mince generally. Beef, occasionally pork, turkey or chicken. Very rarely lamb due to price and fat content. Again, you would be cooking this, without oil but with the addition of water I presume?

Eggs - Ruby loves egg but it makes her stools soft. She get two egg a week, including the shell which is finely ground up. Being raw fed, she needs the shell to counteract the raw egg white. Cooked egg isn't a problem but the shell ground, is a good calcium addition.

Dairy - Ruby loves cottage cheese and yoghurt but doesn't get it often. Add in after cooking and cooled.

Grains - I haven't been a fan of grains but she does get whole oat flakes (porridge oats) to soak up juices and give her some more nutrition.

An additional mention about raw green tripe. This has a 1:1 perfect ratio for calcium and phosphorus. It stinks. You need a good container to store it in the fridge after thawing. DO NOT COOK IT. Again, I use 10% in her diet mixed in on the day. 

Another additional mention regarding Brewer's Yeast. See here.

Another good website is this one by Rhonda, see here.

Another American one is here, in particular, helping to balance fats, see here.

You may well feel overwhelmed, I know I was. However, I read for days on end, taking snippets from here and there until I felt like I had gained enough knowledge for me to proceed. Having reread this last one just now, I realised I have not been using hempseed - I shall correct this.

I have, unfortunately, just removed most of my links. These were the only ones left. There is some fantastic information out there even with regard to  wild edibles! Hope this is useful to you.  

2% - 3% of dogs weight is fed each day, over 1, 2 or 3 meals depending on how often your dog is fed. Ruby weighs 17kg more or less. She has 350g per day plus a mid day snack of dried tripe, or a vegetable chew etc.

Monday 14 December 2020

Final bit of titivation...

 As I said, I just can't get into the mood this year. We have lightly decorated the Welsh dresser:

The books have lights in but the batteries need changing! The mantelpiece was also decorated:

A few other bits and bobs and that is it. Still haven't made any mince pies or sausage rolls or even thought about meals other than the day itself. Weird isn't it?

Sunday 13 December 2020

Tree up!

 3/4 of the tree has gone up. Lifted onto a unit, it is too tall for the space otherwise. Makes it look more decorated anyway:

I just cannot get in the mood this year. DGD and her family will have a few things to look at, around the house, which is giving a feel of Christmas so all is not lost. She is too young this year to notice things too much anyway.

Had to cancel one present for DS and order something else as delivery is delayed by a lot for some odd reason. All of DDiL's presents have arrived and other than the one thing newly ordered, all is finished - yay!

We are having a European/German meal today. Roasted kassler, rosti potato and cabbage stir fried with onion and Maggi sauce. Gravy will be the sauce from Ikea that they serve with their meatballs.

Tea will be avocado on toast, followed by a trial of gooseberry bread and butter pudding, with custard.

Friday 11 December 2020

Food for Ruby

All human food - minced beef, minced turkey, minced heart, packet of offal, minced vegetables, eggs, egg shells, tin pilchards, linseed and chia seed: 

Non human grade food 4 tubes minced carcasses, and I realised after taking this that green tripe was missing. 

Topped off with 1 1/2 cups of whole rolled oats in each bowl. Ready to mix together, a beef bowl and a turkey and pichard bowl:

Measured in 350g containers, one per day:

A bit left over to give her onver 3 small lunches. I didn't price this up but it will be around £1 to £1:20p per bowl (one bowl each day). That is cheaper than generally buying it in and it also has more additions (to the correct amount) than you generally get in bought food.

Vegetables vary between cabbage, brocolli, carrots, pumpkin, peppers plus fruit such as apples, pears or summer fruits when in season. The linseed and chia seed (along with the tripe and eggshells) are to balance out her phosphorus and calcium needs, vitamins, mineral, omega 3 and 6 etc.

Each day she is given brewer's yeast which adds more things as well as working very well as a tick repellent, and a special mix to heal keep her teeth clean.

Thursday 10 December 2020

The other Christmas cards

With the exception of 3 other quick styles, which I forgot to photograph, these are the final two styles that were sent out for this year:

The dwarfs above were also done in red, green and purple. The top one is a stamp, Santa hand coloured (also a red one not shown),and restamped. The bottom one used an embossing folder for the kraft background, dwarfs (and little robin), were stamped, coloured, restamped then die cut and placed on top of it. 

All in, the required amount probably took me 3 weeks of contemplative making and I really enjoyed doing them.

I also made DS his birthday card and DGD her 1st birthday card. They along with the one for my sister, cannot be shown until all their January birthdays have happened.

Tuesday 8 December 2020

Had to be done

Whilst we try to avoid town, sometimes we can’t. After food shopping, we came home for a cuppa. An hour later, DB needed to go to town to pick up new glasses. Whilst he was in there, I popped off to do a bit of Christmas shopping for him.

Three shops for three different items. I was planning on doing most of it in Marks & Sparks but only one entrance in and a big queue so gave up.

On the way home, we zoomed into a charity shop, one picture frame, for something he is sewing. After visiting Farmfoods the other day, and deciding not to buy lamb, we changed our minds and went in there as well.

We bought two large 2.9kg legs of lamb for £30, a tin of corned beef and 6 tins of tuna, another £5 for those, then came home.

Hand sanitizer used everywhere whilst in and out the shops, never removed our masks, thoroughly washed hands when back home. Fingers crossed!

Monday 7 December 2020

Chilly ...

 It is nearly one in the afternoon, still below -1 Celsius here. Went for my massage this morning. Although the roads were fine, I had to be careful going up and back down her wooden steps. Despite being salted, they were still very slippery. I certainly needed it and she struggled to release my shoulder blades. The usual popping of lumps just didn't happen. I do feel a bit freer though which is nice.

Had a lovely chat with DGD and her parents yesterday. She has discovered her tongue and is doing all kinds of things with it. Brrr, mmmm and ddddd are all appearing in her speech pattern. Since last week, she has managed to raise herself up on all fours and rock backwards and forwards.  Unfortunately, during one such rock, her arms gave away and she face planted onto the carpet. Crying and cuddles needed:(

Won't be long now until she starts crawling methinks. Such fun they will have with her then.

Still waiting on quite a few presents for Christmas. One or two, which should have been available this week, have now been put back to later in December or even January. Hopefully, that won't happen otherwise we shall have to send them in the post.

All Christmas cards and postable presents have been sent. Just a few hand delivered cards to put through letterboxes.

Menu and shopping list prepared for later in the week. I really must force myself make some sausage rolls and mince pies - come on woman - pull your finger out!

Saturday 5 December 2020

Preparing for granddaughter - updated

Although she isn't quite crawling, she can now flip over from front to back, and back again at high speed. Knees are beginning to get tucked up to lift her bum in the air. She can transition from sitting to laying down to move quite freely and safely, with the odd exception when she catches herself. She can also turn 360 degrees when on her tummy and push herself backwards. She is never in the same place for long!

Due to her speed at all the above, we thought it prudent to safeguard the hearth and woodburner area, ready for when/if they manage to get down here for a couple of days just before Christmas:

The hearth has very sharp edges so we have also bought some corner protectors just in case. The rug will be slightly tucked up as well, again for added protection. We have had to configure it slightly differently to recommended and have yet to attach its fixing points. They are huge so we will sort something different out. DB has just attached two curtain hooks and cut down an old leather belt to attach the guard to the wall:

The burner has been lit to make sure the guard doesn't take on too much heat, being slightly closer than recommended. It was fine.

She now freely waves and claps. Feeds herself by hand and can get a spoon of food in her mouth by herself as well. She drinks from a safe baby mug with ease. Babbling, chatting, smiling, laughing and making all manner of odd noises.  We really miss holding and cuddling her, but she has now started to give us a big grin when we video time her. Such fun!

We had a little bit of snow yesterday but the most compelling of that day, was just how cold it was:


Friday 4 December 2020

Cards finished

All Christmas cards and birthday cards are finished - hooray. The dining room table is just about clear!

Today I can show you two Christmas cards that have not gone to anyone who reads this blog:

 Using my new colourfast crayons, I first tried these on white cardstock, particularly the snowman. However, it really doesn't show up well. I prefer the kraft cardstock, so although it meant really wearing down my whites, they do look better. I love both of these. The snowman is huge, about 13cm tall.

Depending on what colour his scarf was, dictated which colour the greeting was, as well as the intermediate cardstock. The robin was a mixture of blue hat and scarves but red greeting and cardstock (mainly as I was still experimenting at this stage).

Both when finished, were either overstamped to get the black outline to stand clear, or the line was overdrawn by hand with a super fine black nib.

Tuesday 1 December 2020


I normally go to my hygienist twice a year but unfortunately, due to the first lockdown, had my appointment cancelled. I was a couple of months late for this one due to a backlog of clients. Finally, after just over a year, I went this morning.

Normally I don't mind going at all but this time was very different. They always phone up the day before to remind you. I was asked lots of health questions and advised to wear a coat as windows and doors were open and it would be cold. Also they reminded me not to forget my mask.

I duly turned up. Was waved in from the car park. After answering the same questions again and having my temperature taken and hands sanitised, I was let in and could take my mask off. Both the hygienist and her assistant were fully gowned up with masks and visors.

I was informed this would be a dry manual procedure as they were not allowed to use water or the sonic cleaner. 

It was most odd and just a smidge uncomfortable. I tried not to jump as the vacuum used to remove the loose plaque she had scraped off, caused my mouth to become extremely cold and very dry. This resulted in me asking them to stop 4 times so I was able to moisten my mouth and lips. Also the vacuum kept making rude noises when it hit my tongue and I was trying really hard not to begin giggling!

Eventually she finished and I could rinse my mouth out, not spit into the usual recepticle but instead, into another beaker.

The next appointment was made, I paid via machine (no cash allowed) and left.

Monday 30 November 2020

Trying the German food

 For lunch yesterday we had this:

Some mini nurnberger bratwurst, Kartoffeln mit speck (potatoe slices with bacon), British baked beans and their Gewurz Curry Ketchup (curry sauce). Brunch maybe?

Anyway, it was jolly nice and a good flavour from our years in Germany. As Sunday afternoon is generally spent chatting to family, we had stewed apples and custard for tea. We were both full after that and didn't need any mini snacks.

Saturday 28 November 2020

Getting sorted, slowly.

 I generally love Christmas but I just can’t get into the mood this year. Depending on everyone’s health, whether dogs will be on heat or not (intact male in pack), will depend on whether we see family or not.

The thought of months more of this doesn’t depress me that much, it has become the norm, I just feel sad about it. Months more of not seeing DGD and her family. My nearest sister is in tier 3 rather than the tier 1 we were all previously in. Us, like a lot of the country are tier 2 so no meeting indoors:( That means not visiting her, indoors or outdoors.

Walking will resume next week but we have to travel separately, eat and drink separately, all outdoors. Summer was great, winter not so but we do get some nice winter days which may help.

We have filled our advent calendar this morning, with 3 lots different lots of sweets, 1 per day, alternative boxes each. 

Most presents are ordered and in the process of being delivered. I have almost finished making Christmas cards. Still have one to do for DGD, DS and DDiL, and DB. I have finished a Birthday card for DGD but still have one to make for DS and a sister.

Friday 27 November 2020

German Treats...

We lived in Germany for a few years, twice. German food is quite different to ours but we both enjoyed eating quite a lot (but not all) of it. Our all time favourite was Kassler, smoked pork. It could be bought as a joint for cooking and eating hot - gorgeous - or as cold slices. Imagine our delight when I came across a new to us internet site The Sausage Man, that sells such goodies:

We got a 10 pack of mini special bratwurst (pork spicy sausages), a pack of two frikadellen (sort of a pork burger). Both are already cooked ready to reheat. Two packs of German bacon, a small joint of Kassler,  two packs of sliced potatoes, bacon and onions, cooked ready to reheat. Finally, two bottles of sauce, curry and schaschlik (pikant sauce) and a bottle of Senf, a medium heat mustard.

We ordered Thursday afternoon, they came late morning today. Fully insulated and with ice packs on board. Some have gone into the fridge, others the freezers.

We know of another company which if we order items from, will be mentioned on here. Sometimes, you just have to treat yourself, especially this year!

Monday 23 November 2020

Pudding as a meal?

Sunday afternoons are usually spent chatting to family, usually DGD and her family. She is getting very mobile now, chatting, clapping and laughing. She gave us a lovely smile as well. We are keeping our fingers crossed for a visit at Christmas but if it is only to be a total of 5 days, will have to share that time with DDiL's family as well. 

The usual timing is such that I don't have time to cook tea when we finish. Being cooler whether we have taken to having a decent sized pudding for the meal:

These are gooseberry and blueberry crumbles. We had half of one each, with custard for our tea - delicious. Normally we would have a meat based meal for lunch but this time I had a smoothie (to counter the pudding), and DB a sandwich. The other one will go in the freezer.

It is also our excuse for wading through the stack of frozen fruit in the freezer, going back a couple of years!

Sunday 22 November 2020

Whole Orange Almond Cake

 This beautiful recipe come from Kate here.

Having not had any cake for months, decided to do this recipe. I made half the quantity to try it out, using 1 1/2 clementines instead of an orange. This meant I didn't have to boil the orange beforehand. Instead they were chopped and chavelled up in my food processor before being finished off in my Nutribullet to make a puree. Yep, more washing up but no boiling! 

Doing these alterations meant the mix was more liquid than originally intended, but it didn't matter in the end. I also changed them into muffin cases and baked them for 22 minutes at 190C:

No raspberry coulis but moist and gorgeous as they are!

Saturday 21 November 2020

Sesame Orange Beef

 This is a new recipe we tried from here.

For me there was a taste I wasn't sure of, then realised it was dried ginger as I didn't have fresh. I think using fresh ginger next time would make it really nice. Other than that, we both enjoyed it. We served ours with mixed grains:

Might have to find another vegetable though, as I really don't like using green beans in winter, which come all the way from Africa. 

Thursday 19 November 2020

A bit red

I finally managed to obtain my flu jab yesterday, some 2 months after DB! Normally I don't feel much going in, this time a slight prickle. Then a few hours later, I normally feel a slight soreness which goes away after a few hours.

This time the sore feeling progressed all through the night. I couldn't lay on my arm comfortably so gave up. This morning, it is quite red, the kind of soreness and redness you get if you have a tetanus vaccination:

Other than that, I feel fine and it certainly wouldn't stop me having one in future even if as we age, these vaccinations are not quite so effective according to the news.

Tuesday 17 November 2020


Anyone who knows me well, knows I really am not keen on Christmas pudding. I generally prefer a nice flavoured sponge. We bought one of these packets from Lidl the other week:

and tried them last night, just in case DB wasn't too  keen. I had one as well and guess what, they were blooming lovely. They were a bit sweet but well flavoured. You could detect good sized chunks of fruit and nuts. They also have a decent amount of sloe gin, brandy and rum in them. Better still, they took just 40 seconds each in the microwave.

I bought 3 more this week to squirrel away as their expiry date is 2022!

Sunday 15 November 2020

A while back...

We invested in an electric pressure/slow/rice cooker. So far, I have only used the pressure cooker side of it. It is so quiet, not a single hiss until you vent the steam at the end.

DS told us yesterday they had bought a rice cooker, so thought it time to try out that side of it. It doesn't come with a recipe book but there are loads of recipes online for it. The rice cooker button cooks for 12 minutes but from what I read online, that seems too long.

Yesterday, we took the plunge and tried out one recommended recipe. It required 1 cup of thoroughly rinsed white long grain rice, 1 1/4 cups of boiling water, 1/2 tsp of salt (I forgot this). Put it all in, set the rice function, reduce cooking time to 3 minutes and leave it alone. Once it beeps to say it has finished, give it 10 minutes then release any remaining steam and fluff up the rice.

The water had all gone and the rice on first inspection looked solid but using a wooden spatula, it fluffed up fine:

It was a smidge hard but continued to cook for a little longer so maybe either a couple of tablespoons more water and 4 minutes cooking time or try a different rice?

Another recipe says 1 cup of rice, 2 cups of boiling water and cook for 5 minutes, we shall try that one another time.

Anyhow, the whole process took far less time and energy than the conventional way so we shall do it this way in future. We gave it 9/10.

Saturday 14 November 2020


 We have been eating more healthy meals, with less calories, for a few months now. DB is ready for more, me not so. 

The other evening, we had sausage, mash and vegetables with gravy, normally a meal we enjoy very much, but not this time. We both decided halfway through we weren’t enjoying it. Yesterday we had roast chicken, the same thing.

Today I have spent time online looking for some new healthy meals to expand our range and have found a few more to trial. Most but not all, are stir fry based or quick cook meals.

We shall see how they go. It can be expensive to begin with as new ingredients will need to be bought. They will however, last a long while so that will help.

Wednesday 11 November 2020

Failed attempts!

 So far, three styles of card are in the bin. I am trying different shapes, mixing card stock colours as well as trying various stamps and dies.

I think I have now settled on my next style so shall produce a few of those to add to my stash. I am getting to grips with my Derwent coloursoft pencils. They don’t have a huge range of the right greens but will do for now. They certainly need sharpening quite often. 

I prefer the muted colour they produce on kraft card rather than white card so that will be the mainstay of this years cards.

Over-stamping once coloured produces a crisp finish which I like.

Monday 9 November 2020

Spreading out!

Even though I have a nice new table in my craft room, it is too narrow (designed to fit the space) for all my card making needs.

This is where I have to take over the dining room table, especially when putting cards together:

Off to the left is another paper cutting machine as well:) 11 cards almost finished so far. I won't show you those as a few family members and friends read this. However, I think I can get away with showing you the original version before it was heavily adapted - another day.

Now I need to sit down and work out a different style to these.

Friday 6 November 2020

Quite a bit done today so far

Welcome to a new follower. We have both been quite busy. 

Washed our hair.

DB has weeded the fruit cage and I planted 6 home grown foxgloves into my neighbours garden, as requested earlier in the summer.

He's about to start the ironing. Has also fixed a slightly wobbling kitchen cupboard door and the brackets for one kitchen blind which was loose. He has also been busy going through finances.

I made soup, enough for two days. He'll be cooking the tea.

Vegetables for the picalilli are prepared and salting.

Done two Christmas card fronts, rest of each card still to be done. That will be three made. I am trying a new technique, having the occasional blip but that's to be expected.

I have made two large bottles of washing machine liquid. Topped up the vinegar conditioner bottles and filled the soap dispensers.

Once he finishes the ironing, it will be time for a cup of tea and a biscuit!


Wednesday 4 November 2020

Not too busy

We did our food shopping today plus a few other things. Lidl and Morrisons were not too busy. Town was less busy than last Friday and the Pet Shop even less busy - all of which were a bonus.

We bought ourselves a cheese scone each for lunch, from our favourite cafe cum takeaway. I do hope he manages to hold on.

US Election fever has gripped again so I am trying to avoid the news on tv for as long as possible. I would like to think that people would have had enough of the self centered, aren't I great Trump, but obviously not. Biden seems okay if a bit old but he doesn't want to trade with us because we had the audacity to leave the EU.

All in all then, not much to chose between them, as far as I can see. Biden seems to be the more presidential of the two, which would be more useful to the rest of the world but who the heck knows. Should Trump lose, I wonder how much chaos would ensue and how much damage he could chose to do in his last few weeks.

Watch, wait and hold onto your hats!

Monday 2 November 2020

Craft room development

Another bug bear has been my craft room, or the area of the spare bedroom where I craft. I just have not got any storage. Everything is in boxes on the floor and I just get so annoyed with it all. Also, this room, being a spare bedroom, is used when we have DS and family to stay.

Up until now, I have been reluctant to take it over but no more. I think the lockdown has encouraged me to get going. When we visit them, we sleep in rooms that also house other things so from now on, they will need to do the same. Mind you, that thinking didn't allow for a travel cot and granddaughter. 

So, spending head on, I have also bought a tall storage unit and a desk with two draws from Ikea, which were delivered on Sunday and put up Monday. I also have 4 Ikea peg boards on the wall directly in front of me. On these, hang numerous boxes and shelves.

Before the changes, loads of things scattered on the floor and table top:

Afterwards - so much better. The desk is 150cm long by 50cm deep:
I am still sorting out what to put in the tiny cupboard (30cm x 30cm x 180cm tall). I think it will work well. Things have already changed from this photo regarding the peg boards. 
My dies and stamps are in CD floppy plastic sleeves, in a box, too big to fit the tall cupboard. We have just sent off for solid clear plastic CD cases that don't have the middle bit in. They fit perfectly in those, without being squashed. Once all have been transferred, they could go on a CD shelf to the right or above the peg boards.

Onwards and upwards!

Sunday 1 November 2020

I had a feeling

 We would go into another lockdown soon. So last Friday we braved the shops with our list of sewing and crafting materials, clothes and a couple of other things. We got 3/4’s of the list. We returned home with cheese scones for lunch. We were shattered both mentally and physically.

The next day, Boris made his announcement. I had a hairdressing appointment on the Thursday, so would miss that.

However, early this morning my hairdresser rang up to say she would come and cut it this morning if I was willing. Yes I was! It is now considerably shorter than normal just in case.

Today, we also had a lovely video chat with DS and family. DGD rolled forwards and backwards several times. She can transition from sitting to a belly flop at will although occasionally she hits her face:( Once on her belly she is getting adept at pushing herself backwards. She was also babbling at us so coming along nicely.

Tuesday 27 October 2020

Saved up for and done!

Kitchen, small bedroom and bathroom windows changed. Before:

And afterwards:

Not cleaned at this stage as it was pouring down but they did remove greasy marks after these pictures were taken. 

They were also kind enough to leave us a couple of very long strips for us to fix at a later date, above our electric sun blind, where the rain drips down onto the windowsill and keeps us awake.

Sunday 25 October 2020

Colouring on Kraft card

 Having seen a few examples online (and it being my favourite card stock), I thought I would use my pencils on some to see how it went.

I was watching someone colour online and noticed after colouring, that they re-stamped their image - what a difference. Luckily, I have a good stamping platform (like a folded book), rather than one on four bouncy legs. By cleaning the stamps insitu, they can be left in place. This allows you to see exactly where you were and can easily overstamp - providing nothing moves.

Herewith a kraft sample card, coloured in - this is how most people colour their cards:

After restamping:
Apart from a flower stem moving and the flash going off, which has overlit the bunnies bottom right, it makes such a difference don't you think?

Saturday 24 October 2020

Colour and swing

I have been attempting some general colouring on some old gnome stamps whose dies don't quite fit properly. I have sent for some new ones and hope they are better.

Shading is mimimal as I don't yet understand the concept or how to do it properly but hopefully, I will improve. Although the colouring is basic, I also hope to learn how to blend the colour by melting it slightly with oil brush cleaner - apparently, the technique makes the colour more intense - watch this space!

Never to just do one new thing at a time, I also came across a tutorial on how to make an element on a card swing (rather than slide which needs a die), so have also done that with the gnome on an old bit of card to create a sample:

Onwards and upwards...