“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ....Oscar Wilde

Sunday 22 December 2013

Happy Christmas Everyone....

I have escaped the dust and renovations and flown to Lapland.
Well not quite Lapland but it's certainly close.
I'm at my sister's for the holiday.
To say that my sister adores Christmas is an understatement. 
In fact, I think she may well be Mrs Claus!
Both she and her husband pull out all of the stops out to ensure that everyone has a special time with all the magic of Christmas.
Here's her tree.

I'd like to just take this moment to thank you all for your friendship over the last year. 
Your visits have meant so much to me and I hope we'll continue to natter in 2014.

Merry Christmas Everyone 

HO HO HO....

Tuesday 10 December 2013

HAPPY 10th BIRTHDAY to me...McMufftypup!

Guest Blog Post...by McMufftypup
Today it's my birthday...can you believe it?
 I'm 10 years old today...oops I wasn't going to divulge my age, but what the heck...it's out there now and hey...I think I look good for 10! 
It's all down to good digs (or should I say place of residence)
It's taken me ten years to work the system to perfection, but I think I've got them all well trained and where I want them now...fresh chicken when I want it, the nearest spot by the wood burner, being carried to bed when the stairs just look too steep, walks at whatever pace I want to set...even slow and sniffy if I so choose, cuddles on demand and tummy rubs whenever I so choose. 
Not bad eh? 
Just call me 'Top Dog' ^..^

I decided to have a slow start today...waiting for my breakfast to be served. 
I mean a birthday girl shouldn't have to wait for her birthday breakfast really, but then at least I had an extra cosy snuggle.

I took up the best advantage spot to survey the postie arriving. Now I don't wish to mislead you...I'm not one of those pooches that pounce on the postie. 
No, I was waiting for the influx of cards and pressies that were sure to arrive. 
It appears they may be in the afternoon post as nothings arrived yet. 

So on to wishful thinking...maybe I'll get a birthday bone?
Or there maybe a surprise birthday outing...
Or will my toy be filled with my favourite gorgeous chicken...
Ohh yes...off we go! 
I may even revisit that interesting patch in the garden...that I was so rudely interrupted from last time I was on the path of discovery! 
I didn't mind that I'd only just been bathed and groomed. 
A dog has to do what a dog has to do! 
There may even be time for a few walks either in the lanes, woods or a garden mooch!
Ahh...it's certainly a dogs life.
I know I'll be in for masses of cuddles, tummy rubs and if I just give them that look...they'll melt and be under my spell.
I'll have a few wee snoozes no doubt during the day...well you have to make sure that you get your beauty sleep if you want to stay looking this good.

I'll also be remembering old friends and knowing that they remember me. 
Zac still stops and waits by my old garden gate just in case I come out to play....
And although I have met new friends I'll never forget my Zac! 

So a big high five to you all and on to the next birthday...bring it on I say?
Enjoy your day everyone, whatever you have planned make sure you have fun!  

Thursday 5 December 2013

Winter arrives with avengance

I woke this morning at 5.23am and although it was still dark outside, I lay and watched the clouds whip past on the howling wind. The noise from the gale was like a freight train passing through. There was a rattle on the roof and I just kept my fingers crossed that it wasn't a roof tile about to take flight! 
We'd had plenty of warnings about the impending gale and snow storm that was heading our way from the media, so at least we were prepared. 
I've stocked up on essentials and there's not an inch of space to spare in either the freezer or fridge.

(the side garden...with the birds having a quick feed before the big freeze

It's a pity I never thought to tie down the bin because when I drove back onto the driveway this morning...it was there waiting to greet me, upended on the border! 
Not exactly the kind of garden feature that I'd like and when I checked around the rest of the garden I found the BBQ and gas bottle on it's side too. 
There was also the garden table top on the floor, which lets face it was an amazing feat. It's incredibly heavy so that gives you some idea of how strong the gusts have been. 
There's not been much snow yet, but I think we're in for some overnight. 
But as I said I'm prepared...

Look at these beauties

They are Sorel Boots and oh boy do I have cosy toes today! 
They were recommended to me by my daughter, so I must be trendy too eh? 
I think they might be my favourite winter purchase so far Emoji
I just need them to make doggy boots now.
Stay cosy and safe everyone.

Monday 2 December 2013

Happy Blue Monday...snow is on the way!

So what time do you call this, do I hear you say....? 
Well, we've been so busy preparing for the arctic blast that is going to have us snow bound from Thursday onwards, according to the weather experts! 
I'm not sure I like to know in advance of what's to come, especially when it shows most of the UK in a blue colour!
Not a beautiful tropical azure blue...more a freezing frosticle blue.
I suppose it's only to be expected as we are now officially in our winter months.
So it's time to get busy and prepared! 

Here's my son helping to get yet more wood stored into the woodshed before the snow arrives. Last time it took US seven hours to move the pile of 'lady logs' into the woodshed. If you'd like to check it out and the fantastic game of Jenga we played...then click here
This time I decided that it would be a good tactic not to order delicate beautifully sized lady logs...more huge dude dobbers! 
That way I wouldn't be able to lift them and therefore not have to stack 
(hehe...or should that be more of a MMMmmmmmhhhhhaaaaaa?)

I'd like to just let you know that he wasn't wearing his hoodie until I produced the camera. He knows I don't like him wearing it, so it could have been a little silent protest or more just to wind me up! 
He also had his music blasting out...(possibly scaring all living things within a 50 mile radius) Well like me he can't do much without music but it wasn't of my choice. 
Thankfully he'd make a quick dash to the ipod to change the track when an inappropriate track or lyrics resonated out of the woodshed! 

My son's had a busy day today really, because he's now having to write a report and earlier he took McMuffy for her walk. He'll sleep well tonight! 
(not that he doesn't usually
As you can see McMuffy is wearing her blue tartan coat.

I've got so much to catch up on your blogs and I apologies profusely if I haven't left a comment. I sometimes nip in to take a peek...because basically I'm nosy and I don't want to miss anything. I'll try to let you know that I've been next time, but please forgive me just for these few crazy weeks! 

Why not nip over to Sally over at Smiling Sally's blog to see more Happy Blue Monday entrants...you'll have a great time hoping all over the globe and you never know what will appear! 

Have a wonderful week everyone...and I'll hopefully see you soon 
https://secure.quebles.com/content/hotmail/emoticons/1511763.gif xoxo

Friday 29 November 2013

Introducing my new best friend...The Aga

I've been asked by many people recently "what is it like to be an Aga owner"? 
Well, until I owned one I never quite understood what all the fuss and stigma was about and why generally Aga owners always seem to be so ecstatic about a cooker! 
Now I totally understand and am devoted to my new best friend. 
I had a terrible week when she had to be switched off to wait for a new burner. 
But then she is over twenty years old after all. 
I think in Aga terms that's positively a baby, but still her burner needed updating. 
I know the feeling...???
(not sure why she's a she but she is...okay I know that's a little sad but at least I haven't named her yet...I say YET!)

There's nothing better than feeling the warmth radiating from the solid chuck of metal at any time of the day or night.
 It's like the heartbeat of the home...always giving out its warmth to anyone who needs it. It's always comforting whenever you pass by, or if you stand leaning against it as I often do...gather my thoughts whilst sipping my cuppa. 
It's perfect for all sorts of things like airing cloths on the top of the simmering oven cover, or drying out newly washed trainers...or drying soggy wet dogs after their walk for that matter. (see photo below)
And that's before we even get to the cooking part! 

If you live in the UK, then you'll know all about the Mary Berry storm that's taking over the UK baking fraternity. 
For those of you that don't know Mary (which is unthinkable but possible I suppose) she is the Queen of Cakes and currently at the tender young age of 78 years old, co-hosting with Paul Hollywood, the incredibly popular TV programme 'The Great British Bake Off
If you like to bake...you'll love this programme, although sadly it's just finished for this season.

Sorry I'm getting a little side-tracked here Emoji

But there is a tenuous link between Mary Berry and my Aga because I found amongst my gigantic, huge, large recipe book collection an old Aga recipe book written by Mary herself, back in 80's (there's no date written in the book, so I can't be sure but I know I've had it since then) You can imagine my delight when I found it. 
It explains how to maximize the benefits of having an Aga and has wonderful recipes plus beautiful watercolour illustrations by David Westwood. 

I thought you might like to see a page out of the book that explains this unique cooker.  
Here's an illustration with a few details. 

She seems to have limitless depths to her ovens and fantastic space of her big Boiling and Simmering Plates, after the confines of an ordinary cooker. 

And here's the real thing...Da dah! 
Isn't she a thing of beauty?

But as I mentioned she did need a little tweak when we returned to the house from our travels. I think she may have gone into shock when we turned up her dial. 
The holiday was over....it was time to get busy. 
She knew I was serious and was going to put her to work! 
So we had to switch her off and let the Engineer do his stuff...unfortunately we had to wait for a whole week for the new part and oh boy did we miss her.
It didn't help that that week we experienced an arctic blast! 

I'm not sure whether she would like to show everyone this intimate photo of her innards! 

It was a tense time and as often the case...hot sweet tea was on hand! 
But she was okay and we fired her up once again.
So on with the cooking...soups, casseroles and baking up a storm. 

(stock on the boil)
I'll hopefully be getting back to posting recipes at some stage...remember the good old days when I used to have time? 
Just to keep you going...here's the first Sunday roast that I produced from the Aga.

Mmmm....that makes me realise it's getting near to dinner time and I'm hungry.

I know that I've posted this photo of McMufftypup warming herself before,o but it just seemed right that she should be included in this post...showing you yet another benefit of having an Aga. 

So as the saying goes..."Does it make toast?" 
The answer is basically "Yes it makes great toast, literally!" 
Amongst a gazillion other things too!
If you'd like to know a little more about the Aga and it's history then click here

Let me know if you think of a good name for her? 
I'd love to hear your suggestions and ideas. 

Have a great weekend everyone. 
Keep cosy and if you're lucky enough, stay near to the Aga!

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